University of L’Aquila, Italy


Recipient of Zbigniew Kabata Student Award 2022

My interest in the Crustacea Copepoda dates back to my bachelor studies when for the first time I was introduced by the outgoing WAC president, Professor Diana Maria Paola Galassi, to the fascinating world of copepods. In 2017 I defended my bachelor's thesis at the University of L’Aquila, dealing with the biological risk assessment in groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) with special regard to the invertebrate fauna living in these environments; first of all, the Copepoda Cyclopoida and Harpacticoida.


During my Master’s thesis in 2019 I did an experimental study of the behavioural alterations triggered by the propranolol on the stygobitic cyclopoid species Diacyclops belgicus. My thesis results have been published on the journal Environmental Pollution in 2019. The same year, I have gained a Ph.D. position at the University of L’Aquila (Italy). My ongoing Ph.D. research activity is related to: (i) analyse the distribution of groundwater-obligate copepod species at large continental scale, in synergy with the working group of the Stygobiology laboratory; (ii) disentangle the role of hydrogeology in explaining the spatial patterns of groundwater copepods in groundwater and dependent ecosystems; (iii) assess potential eco - physiological alteration and changes in the swimming behaviour of inbenthic/interstitial harpacticoids to understand and mathematically describe the potential behavioural alterations of freshwater crustaceans (copepods included) triggered by climate change and sublethal concentrations of emerging organic compounds. The results obtained during my Ph.D. fellowship were published in 15 papers in several scientific journals (e.g. Environmental Pollution, Ecography, Global Ecology and Conservation, Scientific Reports, Science Of The Total Environment, Water, Ecological Indicators). In the first on-line International Conference on Copepoda organized by the World Association of Copepodologists, I presented a part of my Ph.D. research by giving a presentation entitled “Unravelling the sub-lethal effects of diclofenac on the swimming behaviour of the freshwater interstitial crustacean Bryocamptus pygmaeus (Crustacea, Copepoda, Harpacticoida)”. The communication has been awarded with the Zbigniew Kabata Award, a great and unexpected honour for which I have my profound gratitude to the WAC members. All of this gave me a greater impetus to proceed with research in the field of ecology and biogeography of the Crustacea Copepoda. I am still working on evaluating the effect of the recording time on the results obtainable with behavioural tracking tests in collaboration with Dr. Marco Uttieri (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn) and the Stygobiology Laboratory at the University of L’Aquila.