Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
Mine is a somewhat unusual profile for the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics. I am a mechanical engineer with a PhD in Technical Physics (physics and energy of buildings) from UniPD. During the period of my PhD abroad at UC Berkeley I was able to approach the topic of user perception of indoor environmental quality. Over time, I have shifted my research focus from the more technical side of building systems to the ultimate cause of a building's existence and energy consumption: users. I explored these topics during three years of research at the University of California at Berkeley and three years at EURAC. I am now working on innovative air conditioning systems that improve indoor environmental quality while reducing energy consumption.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
Frankly, no. I was supposed to carry on my father's business (blacksmith). But I liked the idea of being able to design and conceive, so I enrolled in mechanical engineering, but still with the intention of going to work for some company. Then my dissertation topic (CFD analysis of building components) interested me so much that I decided to try for a PhD in technical physics, but I never imagined an academic career. The turning point came with my year abroad in California. That year completely changed my outlook on research and brought me to where I am today.
What do teaching and researching mean to you?
Teaching and researching mean building our future. Each student is like a seed we sow today to rejuvenate tomorrow's forest. Research is the water that nourishes and makes that seed sprout. We need to watch young people, give them the scientific basis and bring them up to date with the latest research in order to give them a solid boost for the future.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
To have ideas. Only among a thousand stupid ideas can you find a revolutionary idea. So think for yourself and feel free to imagine new things.
What do you think about the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics?
I think it is one of the most interesting departments in Italy today. Its true innovative drive lies in what may seem to be its greatest contradiction, bringing together environmental sciences, informatics and statistics. At the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics there is the right mix of knowledge to conduct research that can truly look into the future and that makes interdisciplinarity its strength.
Wherever you work today, it is impossible not to deal with and benefit from the new IT frontiers; environmental issues have never been more central than in this new millennium; and finally, statistics. Research, to be defined as such, needs a solid statistical basis, otherwise it is just an opinion.