As an environmental engineer with a PhD in information technology, I am deeply interested in the analysis of ecological and environmental processes by means of quantitative tools. My research activity is mainly devoted to the study of spatiotemporal dynamics in ecology and epidemiology by means of simple (whenever possible) yet rigorous mechanistic models.
Examples of problems I have recently analyzed – or I am still struggling with – are:
the modeling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
the metapopulation dynamics of foundation species in the Mediterranean Sea;
the spatiotemporal patterns of marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea;
the short-term instability properties of ecological and epidemiological systems;
the dynamics of water-borne and water-related diseases (cholera and schistosomiasis in particular) and the role of human mobility in promoting their spatial diffusion; and
the transmission of fish diseases along river networks.
In addition to scientific relevance, some of these topics have clear social and/or economic implications. This is the case, for instance, of building models for
marine plastic pollution,
the dynamics of foundation species that provide key ecosystem services (like the seagrass Posidonica oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea),
cholera epidemics (like the one that stroke Haiti in 2010),
parasitic infections (like schistosomiasis, which affects hundreds of millions of people in developing countries), and
the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mathematical models are key tools to understand drivers and controls of infectious disease dynamics and spatiotemporal dynamics in ecology.
Current research and perspectives
I am currently working on coupled physical-biological models to study the dispersal patterns of pelagic species in the Mediterranean Sea. Aim of the research is to understand the large-scale implications of connectivity for population ecology, conservation and management. I also continue working on waterborne disease dynamics. In particular, I am interested in the definition of formal conditions for pathogen epidemicity and endemicity, explicitly accounting for realistic environmental settings and for the interplay between epidemiological and ecological dynamics. The modeling tools developed for these two research lines (namely, computationally intensive individual-based simulations and stability analysis of large-scale spatially explicit systems) can be applied to a variety of problems that are crucial to conservation ecology like, for instance, the definition of persistence criteria for populations living in fragmented landscapes, dendritic networks or webs of marine protected areas, or the derivation of invasion/persistence conditions for alien species or agricultural pests.
For more details on my research activities you can have a look at this list of publications.