Since April 2015: Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSC) Fellow, GFZ-German Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
2014-2015: Post-Doctoral Researcher, GFZ-German Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
2010-2013: Research Fellow, European Space Agency (ESA/ESTEC), Noordwijk, The Netherlands
2006-2010: Ph.D. in Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulster, Coleraine, United Kingdom
2005-2006: Research Scientist in Microbiology, CESTA-Centre for Environmental Biotechnologies, Genova, Italy
2004: FEMS (Federation of European Microbiological Societies) Research Fellow, University of Ulster, Coleraine, United Kingdom
1996-2003: Laurea (B.Sc. + M.Sc.) Summa cum Laude in Molecular Biology, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
BioFrost (2015-2017): Funded by the European Commission, BioFrost studies how microbial life carries on in permanently frozen deep permafrost. Supported by a highly sensitive experimental approach based on the use of stable isotope probing combined with Next Generation Sequencing, Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry and nanoSIMS, this research aims at tracing active microorganisms in deep permafrost together with revealing the biologically-induced chemical processes that modify the surrounding environment and make it habitable.
Biotech of cold-active microorganisms (2015-ongoing): Our in-house culture collection comprises a couple of hundreds of cold-active microorganisms isolated from the Arctic and Antarctica. We are currently studying our psychrophilic bacteria for the synthesis of cold-active extracellular enzymes (mainly proteases and lipases) and surface active biosurfactants. To do so, molecular biology and heterologous protein expression are combined with analytical chemistry.
SubZero (2010-2014):Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), this project aimed at investigating the limits of microbial life at subzero temperatures and anoxic conditions (with relevance to upcoming life detection missions on Mars). This study - carried out using mainly stable isotope probing and a combination of bulk cell population and single cell analysis - showed that life is possible under frozen conditions and that cell individuality and heterogeneity are main mechanisms for adaptation.
SusClean (Sustainable and Clean) (2006-2010): Funded by UK DTI (Dept. Trade & Industry) and Unilever R&D, this project was a collaboration between Universities (University of Ulster, University of Oxford and University of Newcastle) and Industry (Unilever) aimed at developing new biomolecules from microorganisms for commercial applications, with main focus on surface active biosurfactants. Because of the large spectrum of activities they display, performance under extreme conditions, low toxicity and synthesis from renewable material, biosurfactants are studied as green alternatives to chemical surfactants.