Close-ups

Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
I was born in Padua, where I also graduated, so my roots are very close to Venice, but after graduating I spent 13 years abroad, first in Belgium and then in the UK. My field of research is statistics, especially statistics applied to environmental problems, such as estimating the frequency of extreme events, such as river floods, and how this changes with climate change. I also believe that it is important for research to be open and replicable, so I am also interested in making implementations of various statistical methods available in open source languages, mainly R, the most widely used language for statistical analysis.

What was your academic career?
I took a PhD in Statistics in Leuven, Belgium, where I worked on non-parametric regression methods with Irene Gijbels and Gerda Claeskens. After my PhD I worked as a clinical statistician in a pharmaceutical company. After a couple of years I had the chance to move to the UK to work at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, a multidisciplinary research centre where they needed a statistician to work with the team working on river flood risk estimation. After almost three years at the Centre I finally took the opportunity to become a Lecturer at the University of Bath: while I was there I won a call for applications for the Rita Levi Montalcini programme which gives scholars living abroad the chance to come to Italy and I chose to come to Ca' Foscari.

What were your greatest professional satisfactions?
The first time someone cited one of my papers and used the software I had developed was very exciting: knowing that my work is useful for someone else who wants to understand something better is a great source of motivation. Still now, managing to publish a paper I am proud of and seeing scientists I admire citing it makes me proud.

What is the aspect of your research you are most passionate about?
There is a saying among statisticians: statisticians can play in the garden of all other sciences. And this is one of the most fascinating things about statistics: you can work on projects in the most diverse fields and the ability to analyse data can be useful in many different applications. And then, of course, in order to make analyses that are as informative as possible, you have to know the subject you are studying and the data you are analysing inside and out, but the fact that there are so many possible applications is one of the most beautiful things about statistics.

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
Absolutely not! Research for me was not a vocation, but something that I learned to do and that I became passionate about over time. I also realised over time that the freedom of research in universities is a privilege that few other jobs allow.

Last update: 09/04/2024