I grew up in a small town in Italy, right in the middle of the Po valley, unfortunately one of the most polluted areas of Europe. Apart from giving birth to people like Verdi, Fellini or the parmesan cheese, this great part of the European continent is famous for its fog. Thick, grey fog that covers everything from November until January. And I guess it’s through fog that I became fascinated with atmospheric phenomena.
I have always been a curious child, interested in understanding how things work and eager to learn as much as possible about the world, so it didn’t come as a surprise to my parents when I decided to study Physics in college. I did my undergraduate studies in Milan, at the University of Milan – Bicocca, under the guidance of a brilliant physicist called Alberto Zaffaroni. With him, I studied Particle Physics and I was introduced to an abstract, but beautiful, branch of Mathematics called Algebraic Geometry.
After obtaining my Master’s degree, I moved to London to work with Amihay Hanany at Imperial College for my doctoral studies. In Professor Hanany’s group, I continued to work on topics related to High Energy Physics and Algebraic Geometry. After a couple of years, however, I realized that, as much as I liked learning abstract mathematical entities, I didn’t want to spend my entire career as a physicist working with them. Realizing how much time I had to spend periodically to remind myself how my research connected to the physical world made me feel rather frustrated and so I decided I wanted to focus on something more practical. During that time, I came across a wonderful book on Cloud Dynamics, a subject that had always captivated my interest as a kid. The more pages I read from the book, the more I wanted to read: it was love at first cumulus.
While I wondered how I could effectively switch research fields after my PhD, I was incredibly lucky to meet David Romps, a young professor at UC Berkeley who had succeeded in the transition I wanted to make. Apart from giving me precious advice on how to proceed, he was kind enough to invite me to Berkeley for a couple of months to work on a small project, just so that I could have a better idea of what research on clouds was like. The experience was wonderful and it motivated me to continue my exploration of this new field. In the following months, I was awarded the Environmental Fellowship from the Harvard University Center for the Environment and I began my post-doctoral work with Professor Zhiming Kuang.
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