Alessandra Ricca

Alessandra Ricca
Computational Chemist
Curriculum Vitae: 

Alessandra Ricca is a computational chemist who is interested in the formation of complex organic molecules, such as nitrogenated aromatic heterocycles, in various environments, ranging from outflows of carbon-rich stars to Titan’s haze and the early Earth. Heterocycles containing nitrogen atoms, such as pyrroles and pyrimidines, are among the building blocks of life. Understanding how they are formed is of fundamental importance to astrobiology.

Alessandra is also involved in the computation of the spectral properties of carbonaceous molecular species to help interpret data obtained by various NASA missions, such as the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

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The Formation and Detection of Biogenic Aromatics in Dense Molecular Clouds around Embedded Protostars

A comprehensive theoretical and experimental study of the reactions and spectroscopy of PAHs in H2O ices with the goal of understanding the stepwise formation of complex, prebiotic, substituted PAHs in dense cloud material in the environment associated with embedded low-mass young stellar objects.

PAH database website

The NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database: PAH Spectroscopy at Your Fingertips

The goal of this project is to expand the content and capabilities of the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database ( that we have previously developed with NASA grant support.

From Large PAHs to Very Small Grains: The Mid-IR Spectrum of the Interstellar Medium

A comprehensive study of the spectral characteristics of carbonaceous species with the goal of understanding the effects of size, molecular structure, clustering, and charge on the spectra, and allowing us to more accurately interpret the emission characteristics of the interstellar medium.