What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I am a recent member of the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems' teaching staff, and this year I started teaching Inorganic Chemistry and Laboratory Chemistry to second-year students in the Bachelor degree of Science in Sustainable Chemistry and Technologies.
My research focuses on the general field of renewable resources and the development of materials for sustainable applications. Specifically, my interests range from biodegradable and biocompatible polymers for environmental applications (such as primary packaging or farming) or biomedical applications (such as tissue engineering), to ion exchange membranes for energy applications, to natural polymer-based nanostructured materials for controlled release of actives.
Tell us about your academic path.
After graduating in Chemical and Process Engineering in 2009 at the University of Bologna, I completed my PhD in 2013 at the Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering at the same University. In the same year I moved to Germany, where I worked as a postdoc at the University of Freiburg, within BASF's Joint Research Network on Advanced Materials and Systems programme. From March 2016 and for the following three years I worked as a researcher at the Department of Chemical Sciences and Technologies of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. In the end, since September 2019 I have been working in this University as a fixed-term researcher.
What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
I believe that having the luck to get up every day with the joy of having the job you enjoy is in itself a great satisfaction. However, if I want to pinpoint some of the achievements that have been important to me during my short career, I can mention three specific events: being awarded the Future Leaders in Chemistry Prize by CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society; seeing my research patented, acquired and industrially scaled up by a large company such as BASF; and having the chance to work as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
I would say so, yes. Although I did classical studies in high school, the subject I have always been most passionate about is chemistry and its technological applications. I didn't have many doubts, therefore, in choosing a university programme that would help me pursue these passions. During my studies, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of researching, which for me means pushing knowledge ‘a bit further’, taking unbeaten roads, finding solutions. Over the years, I have also developed a desire to pass on my enthusiasm to others, whether they are younger researchers or students taking their first steps in this discipline. As a consequence, the academic career seemed to me the most natural and right choice.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
I can't say much, I still have a lot to learn from those who are ahead of me. What I can recommend, though, is to never settle, to have that pinch of healthy ambition combined with a good dose of humility to find the courage to keep going and keep feeding your thirst for knowledge. Invest in your brain, it is the only thing that no one will ever be able to take away from you. Of course, there will be challenges as well as failures, but what I can tell you is that the greater the effort, the greater the joy of a positive result.