El Brujo archaeological complex, Peru
I am a researcher in the broad field of Molecular Anthropology, a discipline with a few decades of history which brings together biological anthropology and genetics. I started in 2002 studying biology and natural sciences at the University of Bologna, where I became interested in all the branches of physical anthropology and human evolution, and also in language evolution. I eventually specialized in genetics and worked in the laboratory of Prof. Donata Luiselli and Prof. Davide Pettener, where I did my master thesis on the genetic history of the populations who live at the shore of Lake Titicaca, Peru.
Near Lake Titicaca. 2007
In 2008 I did an internship at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, doing labwork for the Genographic Project – Europe. I then moved to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where I was a PhD student in the Comparative Population Linguistics group of Dr. Brigitte Pakendorf, studying the history of “Khoisan” populations, hunter-gatherer San and pastoralist Khoe. This was the most extensive genetic, cultural and linguistic survey carried on these previously understudied populations, integrated in a team of specialists from various disciplines, and revealed an unexpected amount of diversity, testifying a rich and complex prehistory. I also carried various projects about genetic and linguistic variation in sub-Saharan Africa with Dr. Pakendorf and Prof. Mark Stoneking: I studied the genetic variation in populations from Burkina Faso, Zambia, Angola and Namibia.
Near Naro, Botswana. 2009
I collected many years of experience working in a molecular lab, improving protocols for the “next generation sequencing” technologies. During the years in Leipzig, I had the opportunity to work together with many specialists of disciplines related to anthropology, in particular with linguists, and I enthusiastically embraced the fruitful combination of genetics and linguistics to study the human past and present diversity. I defended my PhD in 2013, and then I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at University of Bologna for the ERC project “LanGeLin: Meeting Darwin’s last challenge: toward a global tree of human languages and genes”.
Since 2015 I am coordinating different projects at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in the department of Prof. Russell Gray, and at the University of Zurich, in the lab of Prof. Kentaro Shimizu. My focuses are the study of pre-Colonial history of the Andes and neighboring regions in western South America, and the congruence between gene and language transmission dynamics in human populations. I collaborate with Universities and research institutions from Europe, USA and South America with numerous projects on human history and diversity. At the University of Zurich, I teach modules of “next generation sequencing”, human genetics and basic concepts of population genetics, and I am the main lecturer for the master course “introduction to human genetics and bioanthropology for linguists”.
- Opening new perspectives into our past history and our present dynamics from the study of our genetic background.
- Studying the demographic changes behind language diversification and formation of group identities with the help of genetic data.
- Upgrading ethical and social standards for operating in the field of human genetics.
- Analyzing the impact of human genetic studies on both the subject of the studies and society.
The fortress of Kuelap, Peru. 2015
In .pdf format.