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 physical 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 as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in the department of Prof. Russell Gray. My focuses are the study of pre-Colonial history of the Andes and neighboring regions in western South America, with Dr. Paul Heggarty, 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 side projects on human diversity. I am a tutor for the Spring School of Quantitative Methods hosted by the MPI for the Science of Human History, Jena, where I teach an introduction to genetics and phylogenetic methods.
- 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.