Director of Research
I have a background in Natural Sciences and Environmental Engineering and, as such, my general research interest is closely related to applied microbial ecology and ecobiotechnology, following a biorefinery approach. More in particular, I am very interested in finding new/effective ways to convert waste streams into higher-value products, using fermentation technologies and statistical optimization of process parameters. My research focus is mainly dedicated to the development of second generation biofuels and green chemicals (such as bioplastics), with a special attention to the valorization biodiesel-derived crude glycerol (for which I developed a patent). I have several hobbies, such as traveling, hiking, birdwatching, eno-gastronomy, music, languages, etc., and I have a big passion for the Sea.
Aims and aspirations for role within NESSE
I am fond of working in an international environment and creating networks that can increase circulation of ideas, project proposals, problems and solutions, thus reaching the necessary critical mass that can speed up the development of a research, the scientific community and, in the end, society. In this sense I believe that the NESSE Network can give a contribution to the growth and spread of a more Sustainable research community and society. In my 11 years research experience, I have faced several times the need for a more suitable and thoughtful use of lab techniques (sometimes, measurement of some ecological state parameters of an ecosystem required the use of chemicals that were more harmful than the actual impact I was evaluating!). Moreover, I am perfectly aware of the necessity of supporting early-career scientists, in order to guarantee a reasonable stability to both, researcher and research, which can lead to good-quality results. Clearly, the creation of a strong Network of motivated like-minded people can facilitate this phase. I personally met with some of the people from NESSE, who organized a Workshop on BioEconomy at the University of York, and I was highly impressed by the positive energy, the proactive attitude and the very international atmosphere. It was clear to me that the members of NESSE have passion and stand for what they do, and it would inspiring for me to be part of this and give my contribution.
As the Director of Research I bring relevant international experience in the field of research and sustainability, having worked both, in academic and non-academic institutions, such as the Department of Environmental Biotechnologies and the Department of Renewable Energy Sources of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development (ENEA), the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, the InBio Consortium for Innovation and Bioeconomy (Rome) and the Lab for of Technology and Applied Chemistry for Environment protection (Sapienza University of Rome), as well as the Section for Sustainable Biotechnology (Aalborg University, Denmark) and the Center for Bioprocess Engineering (Danish Technical University, Denmark).
These experiences also helped me developing a personal network of researchers and professionals (including a strong collaboration with China and Chile) that might be linked to many activities promoted by NESSE. So my plan will be to make good use of this network to develop new collaborations among NESSE groups and involve more people in actions like dissemination (to increase public awareness regarding ongoing projects), use of an open platform (i.e. ASANA) to share information about conferences, collaboration requests, funding opportunities, Summer Schools, etc. Moreover, DTU is also quite active with Sustainability issues, and I would also like to propose a local Nesse group, together with DTU, which could support me in additional outreach activities, such as “science cafes”, workshops and seminars for university students, e-newsletters and additional informative materials (i.e. reports, news about projects, events, meetings, slides for public presentations, flyers and brochures, etc.).
I have several years’ experience in networking organizations and international projects. I also have experience in helping organizing international workshops and participated to match making events of the European Enterprise Network. My first international project was a research collaboration with China (based on a personal research project, financed by the EU FP7 EuropAid funding scheme), called Science and Technology Fellowship China (STF) 2009-2011. The overall goal was to provide the participants with an intensive language and inter-cultural training at the Beijing Foreign Study University (followed by 18 months research in a Chinese institution), in order to create long-term collaboration between EU and China. Following this experience I started a new collaboration with China and now I am the Scientific Coordinator of the China-Italy bilateral agreement 2013-2015, and Lecturer at the Sino-Italian Sustainable Development Community for the advanced training programme on Sustainable Development of the Italian Ministry.
Since almost 2 years I am also Member of the Advisory Board of Ce.R.T.A, the Italian Regional Centres for Agri-Technology (www.certa.it), for the promotion of new business activities of high scientific and technological content in South Italy. Moreover, I am the promotor and co-coordinator for the proposal of a 4-year FP7 Cooperation KBBE (Knowledge Based BioEconomy) project with 15 partners, called GRAIL. I started the proposal based on my personal network (research institutions and industries) and my previous results (STF China and my patent), thus coordinating half of the partnership during the application. The GRAIL project was funded in 2013 and I am member of the Advisory Board and now also of the Quality Assurance Committee.