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Young Investigator 2021 Awards

ISSNAF - Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation - confers the Young Investigator Awards every year to outstanding, early-career, Italian researchers working in North America, in recognition of their significant and innovative contributions to their field of study.

Three Finalists for each of the five Awards have been selected from a large pool of outstanding applications. They will present their work at the Award Symposia during which the distinguished Award Juries will select the winners of the competition.

The Winners were announced at the ISSNAF Annual Event 2021 on December 9 in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in the USA.


EMBASSY OF ITALY AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN SUSTAINABILITY  

Established in 2020, this year’s edition recognizes young Italian investigators in the USA in the fields of materials, energy, human health, and production processes - both agricultural and industrial - whose work has shown potential for improving global sustainability. 

Winner

Finalists


Award Jury

  • Prof. Daniela Barile, University of California Davis, Award Co-chair

  • Prof. Alberto Salleo, Stanford, Award Co-chair

  • Prof. Natalie Stinglen, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Prof. Thomas Tomich, Univ. of California Davis
     

Symposium

 

PAOLA CAMPESE AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN HEMATOLOGIC MALIGNANCIES 

Established by Stefania and Vito Campese in 2011 in memory of their young, talented and generous daughter Paola. 

Winner

Finalists

Award Jury

  • Prof. Riccardo Dalla-Favera, Columbia University, Award Chair

  • Prof. Federico Caligaris-Cappio, AIRC

  • Prof. Alessandra Ferrajoli, MD Anderson Cancer Center
     

Symposium


MARIO GERLA AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN COMPUTER SCIENCE  

Established by the Gerla family in 2019 in memory of Dr. Mario Gerla, professor of Computer Science at UCLA and ISSNAF founding member. 

Winner

Finalists

Award Chair

  • Prof. Elisa Bertino, Purdue University

Award Jury

  • Prof. Leila De Floriani, University of Maryland

  • Prof. Anna Cinzia Squicciarini, PennState

Symposium

FRANCO STRAZZABOSCO AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN ENGINEERING

Established in 2013 by the Strazzabosco family in memory of Dott. Ing. Franco Strazzabosco, this award is a tribute to the entrepreneurial courage of Italian engineers who strive to apply scientific discoveries to the public advantage. Note that this year’s edition excludes the fields of engineering specifically covered by the Embassy of Italy Award.

Winner

Finalists

Award Jury

  • Prof. Marcello Romano, Naval Postgraduate School, Award Chair

  • Dr. Elena Orlando, Stanford University and Università di Trieste

  • Prof. Guglielmo Scovazzi, Duke University
     

Symposium

RnB4CULTURE AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN THE STUDY OF ITALIAN CULTURE

Established this year by RnB4Culture, this award recognizes the vibrancy of research in Italian culture and its evolving nature expressed in a variety of ways such as innovative uses of technology, or originality of approach, or contribution to wider questions and trends in the Humanities at large.

Winner

Finalists

Award Jury

  • Prof. Claudio Fogu, University of California Santa Barbara, Award Chair

  • Prof. Graziella Parati, Dartmouth College

  • Prof. Stefania Tutino, UCLA
     

Symposium

WINNERS & FINALISTS

EMBASSY OF ITALY AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN SUSTAINABILITY

WINNER

Matteo

Muratori

Biography

Matteo Muratori was born and raised in Italy, where he attended Politecnico di Milano and earned a bachelor's and master’s degree cum laude in energy engineering. He continued his education in the United States and earned a second master’s and a Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University. He is now the Chief Analyst for sustainable transportation at the U.S. Department of Energy and a Team Lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL is the United States’ premier laboratory for the research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency and is widely regarded as the world’s leading research institute in this field. Matteo is an active member of the scientific community, serving as an editorial board member for top-tier journals, IPCC and NCA author, and contributing to multiple international efforts.

“Energy is foundational to our lifestyle, providing comfort and services in buildings, efficient industry and manufacturing, communications, mobility, and more. However, today’s energy system is heavily reliant on fossil fuels with major social and environmental implications: air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, concentrated in disadvantaged communities; water and land are suffering large-scale contamination; and climate change is often referred to as our generation’s biggest challenge. My research focuses on envisioning and developing a sustainable energy system. Over the last decade, I have explored system-level solutions focusing on technology options and policies to support the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles and related infrastructure; large-scale electrification and effective integration of electric vehicles and hydrogen with the electricity grid; and global integrated assessment to develop clean energy transformation strategies. My career has taken me to the U.S., but climate change is a global issue: my work has global impacts and is done in collaboration with international experts. I am also supporting my home country directly by contributing to the Study Commission on "Climate Change, Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility" for the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Sustainable Mobility.

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FINALISTS

Francesca

Garretti

Biography

Dr. Francesca Garretti is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Alison Goate in the Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Her research focuses on investigating the effects of genetic risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease on induced pluripotent stem cell derived microglia function. She completed her PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine at Columbia University where she was co-mentored by Dr. David Sulzer and Dr. Dritan Agalliu. During her PhD, she uncovered alpha-synuclein autoimmunity driven by T cells and specific immune alleles in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. In addition, she modeled alpha-synuclein autoimmunity in mice to show that it is a driver for enteric inflammation and neurodegeneration and prodromal symptoms of PD. She received her BSc with honours in Biochemistry from the University of St. Andrews, UK and MSc in Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Francesca has co-authored 8 peer-reviewed publications that have been cited over 800 times and has given numerous invited talks and seminars. She currently holds an F32 Kirschstein-NRSA fellowship from the National Institute of Aging. 

Marco Giovanni

Giometto

Biography

Dr. Marco Giometto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering  Mechanics at Columbia University and a Senior Research Scientist at Amazon. He completed a  joint Ph.D. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Braunschweig TU University and the  University of Florence (2014), and in 2016 he earned a second PhD in Mechanical Engineering from  École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, where he won the EDME Award for the best thesis in  Mechanical Engineering. Before joining Columbia University, Marco held postdoctoral positions at the  University of British Columbia and at the Center for Turbulence Research, which is jointly operated by  Stanford University and NASA Ames. He is the director of the Environmental Flow Physics Laboratory at  Columbia University (https://efpl.engineering.columbia.edu), whose overarching mission is to advance  the fundamental understanding of exchange processes between the earth's surface and the atmosphere.  These processes are key drivers of weather and climate, with critical implications on global sustainability  issues including climate change, urban sprawl, public health, and energy. He pioneered the use of highfidelity fluid dynamic simulations for the study of urban climates and since 2018 has actively contributed  to the Amazon Prime Air program, which will soon impact hundreds of millions of people worldwide.  Marco is also the recipient of the Provost Diversity Award at Columbia University.

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PAOLA CAMPESE AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN HEMATOLOGIC MALIGNANCIES

WINNER

Daniele

Simoneschi

Biography

Daniele was born in Rome, Italy, where he graduated from high school (Liceo Scientifico) and studied music at the Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory. In 2009, Daniele decided to move to the United States where he received a Chairman Award Scholarship from Manhattanville College, graduating first in his class (valedictorian) with a major in biochemistry and two minors: music and mathematics. Upon the completion of his undergraduate studies, Daniele joined the laboratory of Dr. Michele Pagano at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2020. As a graduate student, Daniele focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) regulate the execution of the cell-division cycle. Specifically, Daniele established that the tumor suppressor AMBRA1 acts as a CRL4 substrate receptor that dictates the specificity towards phosphorylated D-type cyclins during cell-cycle progression, and demonstrated that the deregulation of this pathway contributes to the pathogenesis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States and worldwide. To explore novel oncogenic pathways regulated by CRLs, Daniele first served as a Senior Research Coordinator in the laboratory of Dr. Michele Pagano, and was subsequently appointed to the position of faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, where he currently serves as a Research Assistant Professor

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FINALISTS

Eugenio

Morelli

Biography

Eugenio Morelli, MD, is a hematologist-oncologist fully committed to basic and translational cancer research. He currently works as Lead Scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and is a Research Associate at Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA). 


Morelli received his medical degree at Magna Græcia University, Catanzaro, Italy in 2011. He completed his specialty in Medical Oncology at Magna Græcia University, Catanzaro, Italy in 2017. Afterward, he joined Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a research fellow and then instructor and lead scientist.


His long-term research interest is to decode the key oncogenic features of noncoding RNAs to unlock their therapeutic potential, with a focus on blood cancers, particularly multiple myeloma. As such, he has deeply investigated the roles of noncoding RNAs in promoting multiple myeloma and pioneered innovative strategies for their targeting, with translation to clinical trials.


Morelli is well-published in the field and received national and international grants from different agencies, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Society of Hematology, the International Myeloma Foundation, and the European Hematology Association. In 2019 and 2021, he received the Young Investigator Award from the International Myeloma Society for his contribution to translational research in myeloma.

Guido

Ghilardi

Biography

Guido Ghilardi is an Italian physician-scientist who graduated from the Univerista’ del Piemonte Orientale (Novara, Italy) and trained as a hematologist at the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, a world-renowned center for the treatment of lymphomas, interested in adoptive immunotherapy, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CART) immunotherapy. To study the mechanisms underlying resistance and toxicities of CART immunotherapy, Guido joined the Ruella’s laboratory at the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020, where he works as a 4th year post-doctoral researcher. 

The focus of Guido’s research is to improve CART immunotherapy in non-Hodgkin lymphomas by studying the causes of resistance and the mechanisms underlying CART toxicities to design innovative and safer therapeutic approaches. Guido’s main focus is studying how different lymphodepletion regimens are able to generate different cytokine and metabolite environments by the time of CART infusion, and how these modifications contribute to the emergence of toxicities and ultimately propose safer lymphodepletion regimens. Moreover, Guido is evaluating new approaches to overcome resistance to CART immunotherapy by designing a new optimized dual CART product able to prevent the emergence of antigen-negative escape. 

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MARIO GERLA AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN COMPUTER SCIENCE

WINNER

Ferdinando

Fioretto

Biography

Dr. Ferdinando Fioretto is an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University. He works on artificial intelligence, differential privacy, and machine learning. Ferdinando's recent work focuses on how to make AI algorithms better aligned with societal values, especially privacy and fairness, and how to use integrate machine learning with optimization to solve for solving complex optimization problems. In particular, Dr. Fioretto has developed algorithms to learn to approximate large-scale discrete or non-linear continuous problems while taking account of the problem's constraints. He is the recipient of the ACP early CAREER research award (2021), a Best AI dissertation award (AI*IA 2017), and several best paper awards.

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FINALISTS

Giulia

Guidi

Biography

Giulia Guidi is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University in the Bowsers College of Computing and Information Sciences (CIS) and is a member of the Graduate Field of Computational Biology and Applied Mathematics in addition to Computer Science. Professor Guidi’s work focuses on high-performance computing for large-scale computational sciences. Guidi received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California Berkeley in 2022. Professor Guidi is part of the Performance and Algorithms Research Group in the Applied Math and Computational Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where she is currently Affiliate Faculty.

Alessandro

Achille

Biography

I am an Applied Scientist working in computer vision and deep learning at Amazon AI (Pasadena) and Caltech (visiting scholar). I graduated in 2019 from the Computer Science Department of UCLA, working with Prof. Stefano Soatto in the Vision Lab. During my PhD I have also been a research scientist intern at Deep Mind and Amazon AI. My research interests include representation learning, information theory, multi-task learning and variational inference.

Before coming to UCLA, I obtained a Master in Pure Math at the Scuola Normale Superiore and the University of Pisa, where I studied model theory, algebraic topology, and their intersection with Prof. Alessandro Berarducci, with particular focus on definable groups in o-minimal theories. During that period, I have also been a visiting student at the University of Leeds Math department.

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FRANCO STRAZZABOSCO AWARD FOR RESEARCH IN ENGINEERING

WINNER

Francesco

Monticone

Biography

Francesco Monticone is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. (summa cum laude) degrees from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2009 and 2011, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016, where he was advised by Prof. Andrea Alù. Francesco joined the faculty of Cornell University in 2017 and is also currently serving as Chief Scientific Officer of Heat Inverse, a startup company based in Ithaca, NY. Francesco has authored and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific contributions and has given over 50 invited talks and seminars. His current research interests are in the areas of applied electromagnetics, metamaterials and metasurfaces, and theoretical/computational nanophotonics. His work is motivated both by fundamental scientific questions about wave-matter interaction and novel applications in a range of areas including information processing, communication, sensing and imaging, defense, and energy. Francesco has received several research and teaching awards, including the Michael Tien ’72 Sustained Excellence and Innovation in Engineering Education Award from Cornell University (2020), the Leopold B. Felsen Award for Excellence in Electrodynamics (2019), the AFOSR Young Investigator Program Award (YIP) from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (2018), and the Inaugural Margarida Jacome Dissertation Award from The University of Texas at Austin (2017).

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FINALISTS

Luigi

Osmieri

Biography

Luigi Osmieri received the B.Sc. (Laurea), M.Sc. (Laurea Specialistica) and Ph.D. (Dottorato di Ricerca) in chemical engineering from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. The topic of his Ph.D. research was the development and testing of precious metal-free electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction with application to low temperature fuel cells. After graduating, he worked as a research assistant at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and at the Politecnico di Torino. In 2017 he moved to the U.S.A. to join the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher. In October 2020 he was awarded the “Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s Postdoctoral Recognition Award” (runner-up). In November 2020 he joined Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he was awarded the prestigious Director’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in June 2021, and then promoted to Staff Scientist in January 2023. Dr. Osmieri’s main research interests are precious metal-free electrocatalysts, electrode engineering, and electrochemical diagnostics with application to low-temperature electrochemical energy conversion devices such as polymer electrolyte fuel cells and electrolyzers. He is the author of 38 publications, with more than 1750 citations and an H-index of 24.

Matteo

Bertagni

Biography

Matteo Bertagni is an environmental engineer who is passionate about science and nature. He did his bachelor's at the Universita' di Trieste (Italy) and then a master's and Ph.D. at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy). He joined Princeton University as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carbon Mitigation Initiative in 2020. His current research focuses on the potential and limitations of low-carbon energy solutions and climate change mitigation strategies. He hopes the world can limit climate change without developing new environmental problems. 

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stellato

RnB4CULTURE AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN THE STUDY OF ITALIAN CULTURE

WINNER

Giulia

Riccò

Biography

Giulia Riccò is Assistant Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. In 2019, she received her PhD from Duke University, where she was trained in both Italian and Brazilian Studies. Her book manuscript, tentatively titled "New World Italians," traces the discursive production of a modern, racialized Italian identity in São Paulo, Brazil. Her articles, book chapters, and essays have appeared in Cultural Dynamics, Forum Italicum, Radical History Review, Literature and (Im)migration in Brazil, and Public Books. She is the co-founder of the Transnational Italian Studies Working Group and the co-editor of H-Net ItalianDiaspora.

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FINALISTS

Filippo

Gianferrari

Biography

Filippo Gianferrari is Assistant Professor of Literature at The University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a trained medievalist with a particular interest on the history of education and literacy in the pre-modern West and its impact on the political and social lives of Italian city-states. Gianferrari is originally from Modena, Italy, graduated from the University of Bologna and received a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Before working at UCSC, he taught at Vassar College and Smith College. 

Angelica

Pesarini

Biography

Angelica Pesarini is an Assistant Professor in Race and Cultural Studies/Race and Diaspora and Italian Studies at the University of Toronto. After obtaining a PhD in Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Leeds, she worked at Lancaster University and at NYU Florence, where she designed and taught the course "Black Italia". Her work focuses on dynamics of race, gender, identity, and citizenship in colonial and (post)colonial Italy. On this topic, she is currently writing a monograph on the lived experience of Black "mixed race” Italian women born during Italian colonialism in East Africa, and the use of oral sources as forms of counter-narratives. She is interested in the racialization of the political discourse on immigration in Europe, and with The Black Mediterranean Collective, of which she is a founding member, she co-edited "The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders, and Citizenship" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Angelica is the author of a short semi-fictional story published in "Future. Il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi" (Future. Tomorrow narrated by today’s voices, 2019), the first anthology written by eleven Italian women of African descent. She also co-translated into Italian "Undercommons. Fugitive Planning and Black Study" (Moten and Harney), and "Blues Legacies and Black feminism" by Angela Y. Davis. As a scholar activist, she is engaged in the Italian anti-racist movement and collaborates with grass-roots organizations focusing on social justice and human rights.

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