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Curriculum Vitae

Present Position

since 03/2014Scientific Assistant at the Institute of Biology, Behavioural Ecology Group, University of Leipzig; in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (MPI EVA)


03/2009PhD in Behavioural Cognition,
at the Liverpool John Moores University, UK, and in collaboration with the EVA-Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.
Dissertation thesis: “Inhibitory control and other cognitive abilities critical to fission-fusion dynamics in primates”.
09/2008Habilitation as a Lawyer,
at the Lawyer Order “Ordine degli Avvocati di Roma”, Rome, Italy.
09/2005Master degree in Law, 102/110 (first equivalent),
at the University “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy.
Dissertation thesis: “Labor rights in theory and in practice: the study case of Mexican maquiladoras”.
02/2002Master degree in Natural Sciences, 110/110 cum laude (first equivalent),
at the University “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy.
Dissertation thesis: “Affiliative behavior as sexual strategy in Macaca fascicularis”.

Training and Experience

Present post-doc researcher
at the Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig,
and at the Department of Primatology, EVA-MPI, Leipzig, Germany,
financed by a 3-year DFG research grant.
During this time, I will investigate the ability to innovate in primates.
In particular, I will investigate
(i) inter-specific differences in innovative behaviour across closely related species, as a result of different dominance styles, and
 (ii) intra-specific differences in innovative behaviour, as a result of inter-individual differences. Crucially, this project will include both captive and wild primate populations. 
10/2013-10/2015post-doc guest researcher
at the Department of Comparative and Developmental Psychology, EVA-MPI, Leipzig, and part-time research assistant at the Psychology Department, Bern University, Switzerland.
12/2010-04/2014Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow
at the Department of Comparative and Developmental Psychology, EVA-MPI, Leipzig, Germany, with a project on primate cooperative behaviour and social inhibition. During this period, I have also conducted parallel projects on numerical, memory and prosocial skills in primates, on the neo-Whorfian effects and the influence of languages on human cognition, and on the co-evolution hypothesis in dogs and humans.
04/2009-11/2010Implementationof different projects and data collection,
 including projects on the effects of domestication in pigs, and on neo-Whorfian effects in Japanese and Maya speaking human populations.
09/2005-03/2009PhD at the John Moores University of Liverpool, UK, and at the EVA-MPI, Leipzig, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Aureli and Prof. Call.
09/2001-08/2005Data collection and analysis on female mate choice in captive primates, with Dr. Nikitipolous and Prof. Sterck (University of Utrecht, Netherlands); field work on wild spider monkeys in Punta Laguna, Mexico, with Prof. Aureli and Prof. Schaffner (University La Sapienza, Italy, and University of Liverpool, UK); data collection and analysis of different cognitive skills in captive primates, with Prof. Aureli, Prof. Call and Dr. Visalberghi (University La Sapienza, Italy, ISTC-CNR Primate Centre, Italy, University of Liverpool, UK, and EVA-MPI, Leipzig, Germany).

Interruptions in Research Career

In 05/2005, 10/2008, 12/2012 and 02/2016 my four children were born.

Grants Awarded

2019-2020PRIC grant for Research and Conservation, Barcelona Zoo, Spain, with Prof. Montserrat Colell and Alvaro Lopez Caicoya
03/2019-02/2020Pre-Post Doc Award from the University of Leipzig, Germany, on ungulate cognition
10/2017-05/2019DFG research grant for the inclusion of a post-doc on the project on innovation
2017-2018PRIC grant for Research and Conservation, Barcelona Zoo, Spain, with Prof. Montserrat Colell and Dr. Nereida Bueno-Guerra
11/2015-06/2019DFG research grant on innovation
01/2014DFG grant for international scientific events to organize a Workshop on Coordination, Collaboration and Cooperation
12/2010-04/2014Post-doc from the Humboldt Foundation
FP 6/2002–2006

SEDSU grant (contract number 012-984 NESTPathfinder) funded by the European Community’s Sixth Framework Programme

in contrast to the other grants, this one was not awarded to me personally, but I have been among its benefiters.
11/2004-02/2005Research stay DAAD grant
12/2002-12/2003Specialization grant from the University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Selected Invited Talks

  • Comparative cognition: contrasting evolutionary hypotheses while testing specific cognitive skills. Anthropologisches Institut & Museum at the University of Zuerich in Zuerich, Switzerland.
  • Prosociality and other-regarding preferences across different primate species. German Primate Center in Goettingen, Germany.
  • Why comparative cognition should be really comparative. School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, UK.

Ad-hoc Reviewer

Nature, Cognition, Animal Cognition, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Sciences, PLoS ONE, Journal of Comparative Psychology, International Journal of Primatology, European Federation of Primatology, International Primatological Society, Leakey Foundation, Austrian Science Fund (FWF).