What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
My name is Paolo Musolino, I am a mathematician and I have been at Ca' Foscari since 2019. Mathematics is a common language for all scientific disciplines and as such it is a basic teaching needed for all degree programmes in our department. At Ca' Foscari I teach basic mathematics and analysis for the degree programmes in Sustainable Chemistry and Technology, Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage and Engineering Physics. My research focuses on differential equations, which represent the translation into mathematical terms of laws governing physical systems, and ranges from theoretical aspects to applications to material science and mechanics. I study how small perforations or deformations change the properties of solutions of differential equations.
Tell us about your academic path.
I graduated in Mathematics from the University of Padua in 2008. I obtained my PhD in Mathematics at the same university in 2012. Later, I advanced with post-docs and fellowships at Université de Rennes 1 (France), Brunel University London (UK), University of Padua, École normale supérieure (France), Fraunhofer-Institut fur Techno- und Wirtschaftsmathematik ITWM (Germany), Aberystwyth University (UK). In 2018, I took up my position as a type a) Fixed-Term Researcher at the University of Padua and since 2019 I have been a type b) Fixed-Term Researcher at Ca' Foscari University.
What are you most passionate about in your research?
One of the most exciting moments in mathematical research is when you begin to understand how to solve a problem, and what was an unclear image becomes clearer and clearer, followed by satisfaction when you succeed in rigorously proving your intuition. Another thing that fascinates me about my research is when you manage to prove a very general theorem that you can also apply to practical situations (such as mechanics or material science).
What do teaching and researching mean to you?
Researching is first and foremost a passion for me, and that's how it started. As time goes by, you also realise your impact on society, because some of the problems we tackle in mathematics can have real technological implications. The social impact that a mathematician working at university has is also reflected in his or her teaching. Teaching mathematics is not only about explaining theorems and formulas, but also about reasoning and using logic, about understanding that sometimes the most immediate answers are not the correct ones and that you have to think before drawing conclusions.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
To young people who are approaching research, I say: go down this road if you are passionate and motivated, and do so with curiosity, an open mind and, if possible, a bit of light-heartedness. Do not get frustrated at the most difficult times and share your doubts with friends and colleagues. Be willing to travel and have experiences that will enhance not only your scientific profile but also your human profile. And lastly, be prepared to make sacrifices, but also take care of yourself and do not neglect your hobbies and social relationships.