PubhD #47: Chemistry, Biology and Social Psychology – My research on C-H activations

PubhD is an OutReach and public engagement event where local PhD students go to a pub and talk about their research to the general public. PhD runs in the main cities in Europe, Lisbon, Dublin, London etc. etc.

Wed the 21st of Feb, I gave my talk and told about my research on catalysis and C-H activations. I will give a brief summary here.

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The periodic table

While I was wondering in Nottingham, I came across this book and I bought it straight away. This is where my passion from chemistry started from: by studying the periodic table, the “rational” collection of all the elements on earth. If you want to buy the same book please click here.

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PhD to success – Paolo Barucca – physicist and science communicator

After my previous articles on the importance of science communication and how to distinguish a reliable and unreliable scientific news, I decided to go back to my interviews and talk about my friend Paolo Barucca. Paolo is a researcher in physics and a science communicator. He created a website, La Scienza Coatta, The Coarse Science, where he tells stories about scientists in the language people to speak in Rome. To make it clear, it’s like telling stories about great scientists and their discoveries in Welsh, Scottish or Gaelic. His Facebook page just reached 100000 followers. The Coarse Science is also on Instagram.

    Continue reading “PhD to success – Paolo Barucca – physicist and science communicator”

Happy International Day of Women in Science.

11th of February is The International Day of Women and Girls in Science!!! It is a very special day of the year celebrating Women who dedicated their lives, time, passions or hobbies into Science! Historically, without many many many intelligent Women our mankind wouldn’t be the same as it is now! Today, Ladies with beautiful […]

via Top 9 Women-Led SciComm Blogs! — Be a Scientist – by Agata


When is a scientific news real or fake?

Is the “clean diet” appropriate to lose weight safely?

Should I take vaccines or shouldn’t I?

Should we care about climate change, or do human activities contribute to climate change?

Will I improve my health by taking vitamin supplements?

How many times have you heard these or similar questions? We are constantly bombarded by this type of news. We read on social media, newspapers, hear from politicians, friends who heard from other friends, etc., etc. How can we distinguish between real and fake news? I don’t have a general answer, but I know to some extent, that it is possible to recognise if news makes or doesn’t make sense scientifically!
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Is it duty for scientists to communicate science to the public???

An Italian version of this article was published by the Italian Researchers Association.

I attended a public engage event last night, called PubhD. PubhD is a monthly OutReach event running in all the biggest cities in Europe where PhD students go to a pub and talk about their research to the general public. Stay tuned as I will be presenting my research on C-H activations next month in Nottingham.
The event I went to yesterday was very interesting. A researcher at the University of Nottingham found out that it was important for deaf people to start learning sign language at a very early stage in their life. In fact, this time in life is the best for our brain to develop skills essential to communication.
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Phd to success 3.0 – Colm Ryan

How to make a success out of your PhD? This is a big question and probably no one knows the answer. Success is a personal achievement based on what are your expectations and goals: getting a lectureship, working for a big corporate or setting up their own business.

There is definitely someone who made a huge success out of his PhD and postdoc and, in my opinion, this person is Colm Ryan. Colm along with Séan Mac Fhearraigh, Ph.D.  is CEO and founder of the Reagent Genie company. This is a premium life science reagents company with offices in London and Dublin. It was founded to meet the global demands for life science reagents. Through its 3 major brands, Assay Genie, ELISA Genie and Antibody Genie, offers over 55,000 products to customers across the globe. It’s a privately held company with manufacturing operations in the USA, Asia and Europe.
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Phd to success 2.0 – Jennifer Matsui

This is the second of my interview articles to people inside and outside academia who made their own way to success. My interview today is to Jennifer Matsui. She is a student of the Molander group and currently doing her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. I very much admire Jennifer. She is a brilliant and strong woman with excellent PhD records. She has published seven papers in some of the best scientific journals so far as well as being selected for a graduate fellowship award by the big pharma company Bristol-Meyers-Squibb last year. To follow Jennifer, have a look at the LinkedIn profile, Jennifer Matsui, or via Twitter at @molandergroup.
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Phd to success 1.0 – Vincenzo and Cosimo


This is the first of my interview article to people inside and outside academia who made their own way to success. I decided to start talking about the experience of Cosimo and Vincenzo. They both come from Southern Italy like me and are currently working at the Institute of Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham. They are both PhD students at the University and won the prestigious Marie Curie PhD scholarship.

Cosimo and Vincenzo graduated from the University of Bologna in Electrical and I met them last year during one of the networking events between the Centres of Doctorial Training and the Institute of Aerospace in Nottingham.
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What does it take to get success in life – Successful people – Part 2

A long while ago, I have written an article about habits of successful people. If interested, please read my previous article. Today, I want to move forward and share the secret of their success. What made successful in the first place? For example, what does it take for an athlete to win the gold medal at the Olympic games? What does it take for an actor or actress to be a celebrity in Hollywood? What does it take for a big professor to publish papers in Science and Nature?

Continue reading “What does it take to get success in life – Successful people – Part 2”


How to get out there – maximise the benefit of your Linkedin profile.

Did you know that your LinkedIn profile is the first thing that pops up on Google if someone is looking you up? Did you also know that 94% of users only click on items found on the first page of their Google search? In other words, if you want to make a transition from academia to industry and don’t have a LinkedIn profile and  you don’t exist in the professional world. It’s that simple.

Continue reading “How to get out there – maximise the benefit of your Linkedin profile.”


Do you Believe in Life After Graduation? for Graduate Students

I have been recently following the PhDStudent forum on Twitter @PhDStudents and they provide loads of useful information for PhD students. I decided to publish one of their article about life after graduation. Is carrying on going with your field the best decision for you or do you want to explore other options after graduation? Read the following article to find your answer.

This article is aimed at graduate students who are in the process of earning your Master’s degrees or Doctorate degrees. Read the following tips to learn what you should be doing now and over the next few semesters leading up to graduation.
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Phd Life – How to keep up with the literature

  1. How often have you kept up with literature after writing your literature review?
  2. Are you that kind of person who read paper during your spare time in the lab?

If the answer to the point 1. is not very often and you would rather have a cup of tea or browsing the internet in your spare time, then you are someone like me which means we struggle to keep up with the literature. This came across during my first-year assessment and one of the feedback I got was lack of reading.
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How to market yourself – Professional business networking and use of social media.

Since my last post about life beyond PhD, Nature has published another article on their blog “Do you believe in life after lab? I believe the magazine has been making an amazing job motivating students in seeking other options outside life in academia and life even beyond your discipline during and after PhD. Their advice is to keep your mind open to whichever chance might come across along the way.

As I said in previous posts, only 3% of all the PhD students in all disciplines end up getting a lectureship/professorship. All the rest must find alternative options. However, the transition to industry isn’t always an easy process and I have heard of people looking for jobs for more than one year before getting a decent one. To avoid this, read my post and learn what you can do to stand out and get more employable even before the end of your PhD.
Continue reading “How to market yourself – Professional business networking and use of social media.”


The side effect of PhD life: anxiety, depression and mental health issues.

This article has also been published by the university of Warkick on their blog.

This article was also published by Jennifer Polk in the From PhD to Life Facebook page.

Getting through PhD life is an amazing experience: PhD students live in this kind of limbo in between being still a student and preparing themselves for the real working life. They are usually independent, they manage their own work, and they are constantly exposed to a young, dynamic, and developing environment. If people look at this world from the outside, they might think of it as a paradise. Unfortunately, the struggle to produce innovation and progress comes with a price. A recent paper on the journal Research Policy showed how the risk of suffering from mental health issues is higher for doctors than the rest of the population.
Continue reading “The side effect of PhD life: anxiety, depression and mental health issues.”



Earning a PhD degree is a tough process, a 3 or 4-year period where students have to cope constantly with failures and, let’s face it, academia isn’t a very nice environment. How many times have you hung out or socialised with fellow students and the main topic of their conversations was bitching about nasty academics, supervisors or labmates? After the writing up period, it is very common for students to be so stressed and frustrated that they accept any job, even a shitty one to escape academia. Industry people are very aware of this situation and take advantage of it by paying students less than they deserve.


Life BEYOND PhD – what makes you UNIQUE?

I have two clear memories of my first few days in Nottingham.

  1. The first one was my induction event where people from industries came along to see and talk to us. They made their point clear. PhD students are highly qualified in terms of understanding of science and lab skills. However, very often, THEY CANNOT THINK BEYOND THEIR FUMEHOOD. All they can see is the little chemistry they do in the lab and frequently think that the whole world is the 1×1 metre square of their desk.
  2. I attended a training course delivered by the Graduate School (one of those which most of the people think as a joke and totally useless) called “Position yourself in the career you want”. They also made their point clear. ONLY 3% OF PhD STUDENTS in all disciplines make their way to an ACADEMIC CAREER. All the rest of the people need to find alternative solutions.

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How to become successful people – Come diventare persone di successo


I have been reading a lot recently about successful people. Above all, I was interested in their habits, how they managed to get their success and how they keep up with their busy life.

They all share the same habits, have loads in common and I want to share with everyone what, in my opinion, are the most important things.
Continue reading “How to become successful people – Come diventare persone di successo”


Edible insects: food of the future? – Insetti commestibili: il cibo del future?


The Italian version of this article has been published on the 4ento.com website


The global population is growing massively and there won’t be enough food to feed everyone in the next few decades. The way we grow meat and harvest fruits and vegs are no longer sustainable and it has been thought that insects could be a good alternative. Depending on the species, insects are rich in proteins, fats or carbs and they could be a good substitution for most of the things we currently eat. Additionally, farming insects have a far lower impact on the planet than farming animals as they use less water, land and greenhouses emissions are almost zero.
Continue reading “Edible insects: food of the future? – Insetti commestibili: il cibo del future?”


How to communicate science to the public – OutReach

This article is also available on the Society of Chemical Industry blog.

One of the many commitments I have as part of my PhD training is the public engagement. This means that I have to attend some events and talk about my research or any science to everyone: babies, kids, teenagers, parents, grandparents, mums, dads, literally everyone. I have been always terrified about this as, I am not sure why I have always thought that people wouldn’t understand or care. So, any time friends or relatives were asking what I was doing in the lab, I was never able to give a proper and comprehensive answer. Moving to England made everything even worse as I had to talk about my research in another language.
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The place where I was born: Calabria in Southern Italy


I am originally from Southern Italy and I was born in a region called Calabria. This isn’t a very popular place and when people ask me which part of Italy I come from, I always answer from the big toe. Back in the days, Italia was only the region Calabria and this name was given to the region by the ancient Greek when they came in the V century b.C. Most of the typical traditions, like the production of olive oil or the way we make bread, are ancient Greek traditions. In some villages, people still talk ancient Greek as dialect and Pitagora made his theorem in Crotone, the city where I was born. A few of these ancient Greek archeological sites are still preserved. One of these is the Archeological Park in Sibari (nothern Calabria).
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Sitting is the new smoking – Stare seduti è come fumare


As part of my virtual campaign in motivating people to get healthier habits, I want to talk about another important issue today. We spend too much time sitting or being inactive. It has been calculated that we spend around 9 hours per day being sit. And if we add that we sleep, 7/8 hours sleeping, we basically end up being inactive most of the day every day.

Researchers agree that this sedentary lifestyle is fastly becoming a ticking health time bomb. Negative effects produced by staying sit for too long are similar to those produced by smoking regularly.
Continue reading “Sitting is the new smoking – Stare seduti è come fumare”


Sugar kills you slowly – Lo zucchero ti uccide lentamente


Today I want to share a “sweet” story about my diet. This story is about sugar. During my diet I was very strict with myself and I hadn’t eaten sugary things for 6 months. No teaspoons of sugar in my coffee, no cake, no cheesecake, no Victoria sponge, nothing of nothing. Then, I moved house last September and my housemate made a briosche. It was lovely, smelled amazing and when she offered a piece, I couldn’t say no. But I wish I had because I became addictive to sugar. I had to eat something sweet every day and sometimes I skipped dinner because I wanted to eat something sweet or a piece of chocolate. It was a struggle as I didn’t know how to stop my addiction.
Continue reading “Sugar kills you slowly – Lo zucchero ti uccide lentamente”


A-level Masterclasses in Sustainable Chemistry


The masterclasses are part of a program for Year 12 students, that was set up by the University’s Widening Participation (WP) Team.  This programme aims at encouraging students who are starting college to take the step into higher education. To apply, the participants must have achieved 7 A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Maths. Additionally, they must be first generation in their family to attend university as well as living in a household with an income under £42,000. The Centre for Doctorial Training in Sustainable Chemistry decided to join the programme in 2016 and deliver The A-Level Masterclass in Sustainable Chemistry for students in the East Midlands. This is, overall, a one week event delivered by the PhD candidates of the Centre in two different periods of the year, 1st and 8th of March and from the 16th to 21st of July.
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Read Anna’s story who lost 8.2 kg in one and a half month


Hello everyone! I am Teresa’s Zia. Right now, Teresa is my hero! She has inspired me with her life changing habits. I grew up in a large Italian family and we always did everything with food. Every Sunday my mother would make a big dinner and all the relatives would come over and eat. We would have pasta, lasagna or ravioli, roast, potatoes, bread, salad, vegetables and of course a whole table of dessert.  I remember eating so much at anniversairies and weddings that I would throw up.

When I was a child, nobody told me to stop eating and most of my life I have struggled with my weight to the point when I weighed 300 lb. I am only 5 ft tall so that was quite a bit for my body. Of course, I have been gaining and losing weight over my whole adulthood like many women have.
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How to make real bread – Come fare il pane


Making bread at home is the easiest thing ever and it’s a good activity to do on a Sunday morning. It doesn’t take too long and it tastes much better than the one we buy at the grocery store. Baking bread is a tradition in my family as my grandmother, Gina, used to run a bakery and she was always told she baked the best bread in the local area. My father runs a bakery too.  Making dough takes 5 to 10 mins and this dough can be used to make bread or base for pizza dependig on the way we want to shape it./ Fare il pane a casa è semplicissimo. Non richiede molto tempo e il gusto è di gran lunga migliore del pane che si compra al supermercato. Fare il pane è anche una tradizione nella mia famiglia. Infatti, nonna Gina aveva il forno e tanti diceva che faceva il pane migliore della zona e papà vende il pane.
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Next step: training to run the marathon – Il passo successive: allenamento per correre la maratona.


After running my first half marathon, I decided to write this article to motivate people to do the same. It wasn’t a big deal but it was a big piece of commitment indeed. I am writing this article to tell the story of why I decided to start running and managed to do 21 km.

I made this decision on San Valentine’s day. It was another San Valentine spent alone. I have to confess that I was a bit sad. Everyone was putting pictures on Facebook about their amazing dates and I was home alone. I was thinking of an activity to keep myself busy and happy when the Robin Hood Marathon crossed my mind. Marathon means running (of course).
Continue reading “Next step: training to run the marathon – Il passo successive: allenamento per correre la maratona.”


Happy ending: a few tips on how to mantein weight – Lieto fine: alcuni consigli su come mantere il peso – Chapter 8


The story of my weight loss is a successful one and after 5 months I managed to lose around 14 kilos. I started in March 2016 when I was 74 kg. I finished my diet last August when I was 61.2 kg. Then, everything was ready for me to get back to Italy and enjoy summer and sunbathing. Summer had never been a good season for me. I could never wear a skirt, a nice top, short trousers or a nice short dress. I was always sweating wrapped in t-shirts and jeans. On the beach, it was a tragedy. I was very uncomfortable staying in a bikini and I was always covering my body. Last year no one of this happened, I was finally happy to show off my nice and curvy body and enjoy warm summer in Italy as I never did before. My family was happy to see the transformation, my friends were happy and, above all, I was happy.
Continue reading “Happy ending: a few tips on how to mantein weight – Lieto fine: alcuni consigli su come mantere il peso – Chapter 8”


What is love? Cosa è l’amore? – Story of my weight loss – Part 7


As I said in my previous chapter, I never had my own relationship. I used to hang out with a few guys when I was at school, but nothing serious, and I got bored very soon as, after a few months, we both realised that we weren’t good for each other or we wanted different things (like marriage: crazy!!!).

Now, I live in a different country where people get engaged at 22 years and if they aren’t, they make plans to live together or buy houses. I live in a place where people think that you are no one if you don’t have a relationship and the only questions they ask are about relationships and previous relationships. I am most of the time surrounded by people who need a relationship not because of love. They need topics to engage with conversations otherwise they won’t be able to talk about anything else.
Continue reading “What is love? Cosa è l’amore? – Story of my weight loss – Part 7”


My family – La famiglia – Story of my weight loss – Chapter 6


I have already said how some people were nice and supportive along the way, personal trainers, friends, and so on. What about people who have been there forever? What about people we didn’t choose? People who were there before us? People who placed us in this world? What about family? This chapter is for them and I am sure that all the words of the world won’t be enough to tell my gratitude for them.
Continue reading “My family – La famiglia – Story of my weight loss – Chapter 6”