I am a marine biologist and phycologist interested in all things diatom. I completed my doctoral dissertation at the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” (Italy), where I studied Antarctic surface-associated diatoms. My postdoctoral studies at The “Magna Graecia” University of Catanzaro (Italy), North-West University (South Africa), South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (South Africa) and The University of Texas at Austin (USA) integrated basic and applied multidisciplinary research focused on marine diatom ecology and taxonomy, diatom-based indices of environmental health and disturbance, and bioprospecting for diatom products.
I am particularly fascinated by animal-associated diatoms and have spent several years trying to unveil some of their secrets. I collaborate with many zoologists, museums, and zoos, and I travel the world collecting biofilm samples from aquatic creatures great and small.
I am currently a member of Nord University’s Algae and Microbial Biotechnology Division, where I am tasked with documenting sexual reproduction, mating patterns and hybridisation in diatoms. Together with Joost Raeymaekers, we will soon be launching the “OCEANHITCH” project that will search for links between the epizoic diatom composition and the host animal’s health.