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Francesco Valentino
Environmental Engineering

Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
My academic training was at La Sapienza University of Rome, where I completed my PhD in Chemical Engineering in topics related to the use of waste as renewable resources. Currently, at Ca’ Foscari University, I teach two courses a year on chemical and biochemical processes applied to solid, liquid and gaseous matrices to be treated and possibly reused.
I have had the chance to work with various international partners on these issues in basic and applied research, especially on wastewater treatment processes, water and waste cycles in urban areas.

What were your greatest professional satisfactions?
Working in a university environment has always given me extremely stimulating professional growth in many ways. First and foremost, working with other universities and research centres (both national and international) is extremely motivating because it actually increases my own knowledge and lets me compare methods and ideas that are complementary to my own. I believe that this, which is greatly facilitated by participation in joint projects and, to a lesser extent, in specific workshops, is what I like best about research and, in the same way, it can provide continuous updating in courses of study; something that I consider extremely necessary for those who, like me, also have teaching duties.

Which is the area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
I have always been involved in biotechnologies applied to different waste matrices, for their exploitation and consequent production of new materials with high added value. In line with the European regulatory framework and circular economy funding, I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous projects addressing waste produced in urban areas or in general human activities on land. I would like to further expand my knowledge on marine environments, in biotechnology and blue biorefineries. Basically, the application of methods and processes for environmental recovery, as well as exploitation of available resources in the marine/coastal environment to support sustainable local economic growth.

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
I actually decided to do a PhD to give a different and more complete profile to my purely academic background. I obtained my PhD in Industrial Chemical Processes in 2012. However, I was not planning to embark on an academic career immediately afterwards. However, having had the chance to participate in numerous European-funded projects, and realising how fascinating the academic world was for me, I realised along the way that this was the right choice for me. I realised this precisely because my personal motivation grew stronger over time, and the numerous partnerships I have had (and continue to have) have been and will be permanent in my professional life.

Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
The question is complex yet interesting. I can give my small contribution and, although small as I am a researcher like many others, I can say that the world of research requires a certain amount of adaptability and a lot of flexibility from those who want to pursue it. However, precisely because it lets those who are interested get involved continuously, to deal with extremely varied situations and/or environments, I believe that it is a world that leaves little room for boredom and in which each of us can make ourselves heard by pursuing their ideas in a non-standardised workplace. For a mind that is not rigid, but rather open to new ideas, I believe that the researcher's job is ideal... if not the best.

Last update: 14/02/2024