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Alumni spotlight: Dr. Melissa Spagnolo Sherman ’93

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: Dr. Melissa Spagnolo Sherman was a recipient of the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association’s Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in May 2023

Dr. Melissa Spagnolo Sherman’s career has focused on harnessing science to build businesses that solve customer problems profitably. She has worked in multiple diverse industries, including fashion apparel, consumer products, surgical products, health care and analytical instrumentation.

Today, as CEO of MOBILion Systems Inc., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she has raised $115 million in venture capital to build the life science tools and diagnostic company that harnesses a disruptive technology to better predict, diagnose and treat disease. Sherman says she and her 80-member team “punch above our weight” in a challenging industry dominated by multibillion-dollar publicly traded companies.

“What we do is really hard — the science is difficult, the macroeconomic environment is difficult,” says Sherman, who received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UW-Eau Claire in 1993. “However, getting our instruments into our customers’ hands will enable safer, more effective drugs that get to market faster, and it will allow diseases to be diagnosed earlier and with greater accuracy.”

Sherman was named a 2022 regional award winner for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; received the 2002 Dealmaker of the Year Award from Smart Business Dealmakers; was a 2021 winner of the Women in Leadership Gold Leaf Award from the Society of Professional Women; and was a 2021 CEO of the Year finalist from the Philadelphia Alliance of Capital and Technology.

Sherman says her experiences at UW-Eau Claire were “second to none” with challenging courses, small class sizes and access to research projects early in her collegiate career. She realizes today that she was one of only a few female students in the chemistry program, but she didn’t notice at the time.

“The professors treated me with infinite respect, I was given ample opportunities and I was told, ‘Hey, you are really good at this’ by my physics, chemistry and biology professors,” Sherman says. “I was truly supported and encouraged.”

Her advice to new graduates?

“Don’t be in a rush, realize you will never know it all and consider every person you interact with as an opportunity to learn and grow,” Sherman says. “Have face-to-face interactions with people and really listen and learn. Problem-solving and networking will be your superpowers.” 

Sherman was a recipient of the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association’s Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in May 2023 that recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the award recipient and the university.