I was born in Reggio Calabria the 25/06/1990 and I lived there until when I moved to Pisa for the the university, obtaining my high school diploma at the Liceo Scientifico “Leonardo da Vinci” with 100/100 cum laude.
I studied Chemistry at the University of Pisa, where I succesfully obtained my bachelor degree and later my master degree. Nowadays I am PhD student in the group of Prof. Luisa De Cola at the Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires of Strasbourg. If you are interested in my professional curriculum, please click here.
How I started?
My love with science started when I was just a child, but I started to focus on chemistry just when I was eleven years old, thanks to a chemistry set I received as a gift. I continued the study of chemistry as a self-educated and I had the opportunity also to set up a small laboratory in the garden, in which in the spare time I enjoyed organic and inorganic synthesis, crystallizations and lot of other experiments. I managed also to build an in-house spectrophotometer! All this work allowed me to obtain two second positions in the regional chemistry games (2006 and 2007) and the first position both in the regional and in the national phase of the chemistry games in 2008.
During High School I also enjoyed the study of subjects that very often are not always well-seen by scientists, such as literature, philosophy and languages – I obtained the Cambridge FIRST certificate and I followed C1 lectures in English, I studied French for three years during the middle schools and and I followed a one year course of Japanese. I also expressed my energy in different extracurricular activities – such as the school journal, student activism and Amnesty International – but also in sport (I played football as goalkeeper in a team from when I was six to when I was sixteen years old) and in music (I studied rhytmic and electric guitar for five years and I played in a local music group).
My scientific career
After high school I moved to Pisa, where I obtained my bachelor degree (110/110) and my master degree (110/110 cum laude).
Pisa is an extremely lively city, rich in opportunities and with an excellent university, that helped me a lot to grow not only from the professional point of view, but also from a personal and intellectual one. I had the opportunity to meet talented professors that passed on me their love and admiration for science. In primis Prof. Facchinetti, that was my tutor during the bachelor internship. I have to say thank you to him, to his collaborator – Dr. Debora Preti – and to the indefatigable Cecco, the lab technician, for teaching me not only how to work in a research laboratory, but also to be always critical and skeptical and to challenge also what is written in the literature.
I continued my study in Pisa with the master degree in Chemistry, choosing the inorganic curriculum and focusing mainly on photophysics and bioinorganic chemistry. In 2014 I started my master thesis in laboratory of organometallic chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Piero Leoni, but I also spent five months in Strasbourg in the group of Prof. Frédéric Bolze thanks to a Consortia Placement Scholarship and a Human Frontier Science Program scholarship. The help of Prof. Leoni and Prof. Bolze was fundamental for me, not only for the amazing things they teached me, but for the trust I received, the indipendence, the pleasant and rewarding working environment and their endless support. My master thesis was an exciting experience, that has put the basis for my following scientific career and has allowed me to broaden my horizons. It was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to confront myself with people with a very different cultural and scientific background, but also to work at the interface between chemistry, physics and biology, allowing me to perform delicate organic and inorganic synthesis in controlled atmosphere, to learn photophysics and to do in-vitro tests on cells.
Today I am a PhD student at the Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires, Université de Strasbourg, in the group of Prof. Luisa De Cola. Here I am also working in a very interdisciplinary way. In particular, I am focusing together with surgeons and medical doctors on the development of new injectable biomaterials for minimally-invasive gastrointestinal surgery. I am involved not only in the chemical part, but also in evaluating the cytotoxicity of the materials through in-vitro cell coltures, looking at how different kinds of cells grow and colonize the materials. Working in this group is a unique opportunity: more than 20 people of different countries, continent, cultures and religions, with different scientific backgrounds, working together to solve some of the most important problems of chemistry: what I can desire more than this?
Chemistry education and science communication
During my stay in Pisa I started to be seriously involved in chemistry education and science communication, even if I was interested in science popularization from before. My interest derived from some observations I did while I was tutoring universitary students as a private tutor and, later from 2013 to 2015, as a part-time teacher for a private school in Italy (Associazione di Promozione Sociale “Ripetizioni Pisa”). In this period I tutored hundreds of students that needed help for chemistry exams and I kept some lectures for high school students planning to do the national test for for the admittance to restricted-access degree course, notably the one in Medicine. I started to experiment some new teaching strategies that at the end were very useful for students, expecially in order to overcome some prejudices that very often are due to bad chemistry teaching during the official lectures.
As a result of the very good feedback from my students, I decided to make my lessons available for everyone. I believe that human contact and a relationship with the public direct and informal is fundamental to transmit passion and knowledge, for these reasons in 2013 I decided to open the YouTube channel “La Chimica per Tutti” and later the namesake Facebook page. Since then, the community has grown rapidly and has evolved together with me. Today more than 10.000 people are following me on YouTube, my videos have been seen more than 800.000 times, and my work covers not only chemistry lessons, but also literature, ethic and science philosophy. “La Chimica per Tutti” is a reference for students, passionates and curious people, that everyday contact me asking questions always more interesting (and more difficult to answer). A huge satisfaction!
From 2014 I am also collaborating with Chimicare, a non-profit association for the diffusion of chemistry, and from 2016 I am also in the board of advisors. The collaboration with Chimicare allowed me to write scientific articles for the general public in a rigorous and complete style, giving to the people the opportunity to understand some of the most advanced topic in chemistry, very often completely not covered by other similar science organizations. For Chimicare I am also responsible for the website Divulgazione Chimica and I was invited speaker in two conferences in 2015, in Pisa a Florence, in which I spoke about food chemistry and all the fake news that surround food science. With Dr. Franco Rosso, president of Chimicare, I presented a poster on “Chemistry in the new media” at the Chemistry Education Meeting organized by the Italian Society of Chemistry in 2016 in Pisa.
From September 2017 I am collaborating with “Il Chimico Italiano”, the official journal of the Italian Counsil of Chemists.
To say that chemistry is my passion is quite trivial. To be honest my interests span in a lot of different directions!
I have always been interested in sport, I played football as a goalkeeper in a local team from when I was 6 to when I was 16 years old, and also today I continue to play with friends whenever is possible. In Pisa I started topractise historical fencing with “Sala d’Arme Achille Marozzo”. I spent four wonderful years with them, I had to stop only when I moved to Strasbourg. I was attracted by this discipline because of the strict relation between the martial aspect and the study and interpretation of the original treatises from the ‘400 and ‘500, like the ones by Achille Marozzo, Antonio Manciolino. Anonimo Bolognese and Giacomo Di Grassi. To find something similar outside Italy is very difficult, so now I practise modern fencing (epée in particular).
However, my true love is flying (chemistry should be jealous)! I have been passionate of aircrafts from when I was 18, but obviously I could not do anything else than to dream or enjoy PC simulation. After my bachelor degree, I decided that it was the moment to start flying for real, so I enrolled in Pisa Aeroclub and I obtained my ultralight certificate (attestato VDS) at Valdera Airfield. I spent unforgettable hours flying all over Tuscany and Umbria, starting with the instructor and later alone, after obtaining my flying certificate. When I was in Strasbourg for my master thesis I flew over Alsace as much as I could afford, and when I returned to Italy I had enough expertise to get the qualification for flying with a passenger, being able to bring my friends and my girlfriend with me. Now that I am in Strasbourg for the PhD I got also the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), that allows me to fly with more powerful aircrafts and removes all the limitations of the ULM certificate.
I am also passionate about languages, and I studied not only French and English, but also Japanese. I started studying Japanese during the high school, when I followed a course for one year, but I started over again here in Strasbourg. It is a truly beautiful language, but non only because of anime and manga (that I almost don’t follow), but for the grammatical structure and elegance, for the sound and for all the traditions and cultural backgrounds that are linked.