What are your professional references?
My PhD supervisor, Prof. Sciortino. A person who only cares about the substance, works consistently and satisfactorily, cooperates with everyone, and knows how to guide young people. If I did half of what he did in his career, I would be satisfied. It's not easy to be so good and stay humble.
What's an area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
Definitely renewable energy and circular economy. If I were to start my career from scratch, I would definitely work in that area. From a scientific point of view, finding a balance with the ecosystem, at all levels, is the most important challenge of the next two or three decades.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
No, I did my PhD almost by chance, and then I was 'recruited' at a conference for a postdoc. It happened almost automatically, it was a good position in a good research centre and I accepted.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
Study basic sciences, and understand mathematics in depth. There is no shortage of information these days; on the contrary, there is a surplus. And this is true in all areas, from science to gardening. Learning to learn is the real challenge, and basic sciences (mathematics, physics) are in my opinion exceptional training to learn how to learn.
The issue of gender inequality in STEM disciplines in Italy is still very topical. What would you tell girls who want to approach these disciplines?
To follow their interests and instincts. It is objectively still a bit harder for girls, but I suggest taking it as a motivation to change things. In my opinion, in order to achieve gender equality, the committees that decide need to be equal themselves. Slowly and painstakingly, this is happening.