I am an environmental biologist with a background in environmental toxicology and pesticides regulation, gained during my higher education and work experience.
I undertook my studies in Italy, obtaining my BSc in Biology from the University of Catania in 2013 and my MSc in Environmental Biology from the University of Trieste in 2015.
I have always been interested in zoology, ecology and environmental topics, with a focus on pollution and health which led me to pursue a path in the field of ecotoxicology.
Ecotoxicology is an inter-disciplinary field which incorporates toxicology and ecology. It studies the effects of chemicals from various sources (anthropogenic or natural) on biological organisms in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
I first became involved in this fascinating discipline during my master’s internship at the Laboratory of Ecotoxicology at the University of Liège (Belgium). During that time, I was involved in investigating the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on the freshwater rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus. This experience was inspiring and greatly influenced my decision to continue my education in this field.
Since graduation, I have worked in a number of different roles in different Universities and Research Centres, investigating the susceptibility of several invertebrate organisms to pesticides.
At the end of 2016, I was offered the exciting opportunity to work as Pesticide Scientist Trainee at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). My work involved the peer review of the ecotoxicology section of Assessment Reports for the approval/renewal of active substances used in plant protection products in the EU regulatory framework of pesticides (Regulation (EC) 1107/2009).
The aforementioned experiences provided me with a broad view on the field of ecotoxicology and an enduring desire to advance my professional career with a PhD.
After completion of my EFSA traineeship, I worked as a Pesticide Risk Assessment Consultant on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Health, until I enrolled on the MIBTP PhD programme.
As part of the first-year MIBTP programme, I attended courses in Statistics, R programming and Data Analysis and carried out the following three-month mini-projects:
Mini-project 1 (January - March 2019): "Differential gene expression analysis in the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris following exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid". Supervisor: Prof. Eamonn Mallon - Social Epigenetics Group, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester
Mini-project 2 (April - June 2019): "Mechanisms and processes of adaptation in the water flea Daphnia magna to eutrophication in natural environments". Supervisor: Prof. Luisa Orsini - Environmental Genomics Group, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham.
My current research project is supervised by Professor Scott Hayward (School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham) and is entitled “Climate change and pesticides: molecular and physiological processes underpinning pollinator responses to stress”.
The aim of the project is to investigate how pollinators respond to pesticide exposure and temperature stress, both at organismal and molecular level, with focus on transcriptomic responses.
The ultimate goal of my research is to contribute to gaining a better understanding of the molecular processes involved in pollinator responses to multiple stressors and to provide further evidence for the development of a holistic risk assessment approach for bees and pollinators, in order to protect bees and prevent further bee decline.