Tell us about yourself: what is your educational and academic background?
I have a master’s degree in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technologies and a Ph.D in Pharmaceutical Science. Since my thesis period, I have been working on the design and multi-step synthesis of potential anticancer and antiviral drugs in the organic chemistry laboratory of the University of Catania. Also fascinated by the biological world, I spent two years as postdoc fellow in the laboratory of cellular biology of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA) trying to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the development and progression of cancer. However, my strong passion for organic chemistry and for the Italian food made me move back to Catania where I continued my research in the organic synthesis field. After I joined the Institute of Polymer and Biocomposite Compounds of CNR, I started my research on the preparation of new polymeric materials to be used as antimicrobial or for environments purpose such as water purification and CO2 absorption. Currently, I am a researcher at the University of Catania where I continue to work in the synthetic field by studying new catalysts capable of absorbing CO2 and converting it into organic compounds.
Can you briefly introduce your research?
My research activities are:
- Design, docking, repurposing and synthesis of biologically active compounds (e.g. antiviral, anticancer and antibacterial drugs).
- Synthesis of sponge-like polymeric materials for drug delivery.
- Synthesis of hydro and cryogel as polymeric materials for water purification.
- Synthesis of polymeric materials capable of absorbing CO2, for environmental purpose.
- Synthesis of catalyst for CO2 conversion to organic compounds.
What are the most challenging features of your work?
Research in all areas is always a challenge since it is based on the idea of finding something that has never been invented before. In the biological field, the most difficult is to find a compound that, besides having an activity, must be safe for human use. When it comes to chemistry, my goal is to do something positive for the earth to prevent and stop global change. Absorbing CO2 or converting it into other useful chemicals should be done in a green manner and this is really challenging.
What are the most 'intriguous' and fulfilling aspects of your research?
The great thing about this job is that every day is different and there is always a surprise. It is never easy to predict the outcome of a reaction and when something goes wrong…this is the best part of the research: trying to figure out what happened.
Every day you learn something new, especially when you space form chemistry to biology. Finally, when you get what you expected is a huge satisfaction.
THAT'S ME in few words! What are your outside hobbies?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends outside, going to parks, hiking, staying on the beach during the summer and swimming in the pool during the week.