I became involved in geodynamics research as part of my degree in physics at the University of Bologna, working with Roberto Sabadini and Giorgio Spada on the influence of mantle mass anomalies on the observed geoid and Earth rotation. In 1997, I began my PhD with Kevin Furlong at Penn State on lithospheric geodynamics, with emphasis on numerical modeling of complex plate boundaries. A part for my advisors, I was strongly influenced in developing my numerical models skills by Rob Govers. As part of my post-doctoral work, I developed and adapted numerical models of lithospheric deformation to improve our modeling of geodetic data. During this period I also started to get strongly involved in collecting and processing GPS data under the guidance of Tim Dixon.

I currently merge the geodetic and the geodynamic aspect being involved in GPS data collection, geodetic data processing and analysis, as well as in geodynamics modeling. The primary aspect of my research is to understand how crustal and lithospheric processes reflect in the observed surface deformations. A primary aspect of this research is the study of processes that can lead to strain partitioning and localization on a lithospheric scale. In particular, I am interested in analyzing the dynamics of plate boundaries to understand how the observed surface characteristics and deformation reflects the lithospheric scale plate interaction. I focus on a variety of plate boundaries in different regimes at different scales in order to separate the key processes. This includes the effects of rigid-plate motions as well as the effects of earthquake cycle. With my coming to USF and the interaction with the volcano group I also started to be involved in the observation and modeling of volcanoes deformation. Some of the projects are described in the research link.

In the study of geodynamic processes, numerical modeling is an important tool that allows us to test a wide range of assumptions and processes including the effects of rheology, earthquake cycle and/or fault geometry and interaction with the surrounding lithosphere. In my current research, I am focusing on how processes affect and constrain tectonic interpretations from geodetic observations. I am using finite-element modeling approach to analyze geodetic data, including the transient effects of earthquakes. In this way, it is possible to impose robust constraints on the parameters and processes that influence plate boundary kinematics and improve our abilities to image plate boundary deformation. The increase availability of geodetic data allows to constrains and validate numerical models better and better. It is thus important to understand the signal included in the observed displacement of geodetic marker and the reliability of these measurements for transient and long-term motions. For this reason, in the last period of my work at LMU I started collaboration with TUM on the analysis of GPS time series.

I think that in geodynamic modeling it is important to utilize observations both to constrain the models and to validate the results. Thus, I value collaboration among different disciplines and with different scientists. I also think we benefit from international collaborations. During my scientific life I have been fortunate to work with people from different institutions and backgrounds (a list of past and current collaborators can be found in the "Collaborations" link).

Although research has been so far my main focus, I am an advocate of the benefits of combining educational and research activity in advancing science. Already during my graduate studies, although I could always be supported by research assistantships, I asked to be involved as a teaching assistant in classes related to geodynamics. I had the pleasure to work with two professors actively involved in education (K.P. Furlong and C.J. Marone) who considered the teaching assistantship position not merely as a helper but also as a development opportunity for the TA. I have also been involved in different outreach program of Penn State and I have been involved in the advising of students. In Munich I have been teaching different kind of classes related to tectonics, geodynamics, and earth system to student both at LMU and TUM. I love to teach interactive classes where the students, in addition to normal lecture, need also to actively work with observations and data. Currently I am teaching different classes for both major and non-major students on the field of geodynamics, geodesy, and natural hazards. I am also involved in different activities of the tectonics/volcanic group here at department of geology at USF. A list of classes can be found in the side link.