What I do
My research focus
My research focus was always on how warm rain forms in liquid clouds. Wait wait, slow down... warm rain? liquid clouds? how can clouds be liquid? We normally call liquid clouds all the clouds which do not contain ice. An example? all the white puffy clouds that form around lunch time, or those white large ones which spread on the sea. Sometimes, they produce rain. This rain is called warm because no ice takes part in the formation of the raindrops. Actually, such drops form after thousands of collisions of smaller droplets.
Maybe just because I love teaching, I have been involved already for some years in the task of doing exercises for the cloud physics course at the University of Cologne.
I also gave some lectures in the same course, on aerosols and the theory on the formation of cloud droplets (Köhler curve equation) and on the theory describing collisions among cloud droplets to form rain.
Finally, I also did some outreach activities with kids and adults, talking about climate change and the role that clouds play in climate change.
Women in science
Probably you don't really understand why one, like me, should waste her time talking, working, sharing the topic of women in science. What is the problem about that? Why should we care?
It took me years to get rid of the stereotypes in my head. Years. And probably I am not done yet. It caused me pain, it was really hard, often, to be a female scientist. And no one told me anything about that in advance.
This has to change. And I am trying my best to change it.
If you are curious, or want to know more, check here. I collected books, and links, and texts, showing that if a female scientist feels lonely, unable, less prepared than her colleagues, there are reasons.
The figure represents the women as a share of total researchers in 2016 or latest year possible. Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, June 2018.
My weather station
This is my little attempt to do something for my home country, Italy, and its agriculture. For fun, mainly, I installed a weather station close to the lake of Santa Luce. The station measures the amount of rain, the wind direction, and intensity, and it has sensors of pressure, humidity, and temperature at the surface. The idea is to record the climatological trends of moisture, heat, and rain and provide some vital information that can be useful for biological agriculture which is practiced in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it true that airplane contrails modify climate?
No. Air contrails are the condensation of water vapor emitted by airplane engines while flying. In the IPCC report, scienstists studied the problem and show that the climatological impact of airplane contrails is negligible.
Do you speak german?
well, yes and no. It hardly depends on how nervous I am. In a friendly environment I can easily listen and speak german, while under pressure it gets really hard to understand what people say. I have some work to do still, on this.
WHY clouds are so important for climate change?
Because they have a huge impact on the radiative budget of the planet. While they currently have a cooling impact on climate change, in future climate scenarios it is not clear if their impact will still be cooling or warming.
How did you decide to study atmospheric physics?
I was studying Physics in Pisa during my batchelor degree, and I was fed up with nuclear physics, structure of matter and quantum mechanics. I needed some application of all the theory. Then, by chance, I met the prof. Steve Shore, who was giving an optional course in Atmospheric physics. I started to follow the classes, and to go outside with the others looking at clouds. And then... I simply went on.
How did you experience gender discrimination in your career?
The first time I really perceived that there was a gender bias, it was when I was at a conference in US, and literally:
- all my male post-doc colleagues got a talk,
- all my female post-doc colleagues got a poster.
We then calculated the statistics of the whole conference and it resulted 75% of talks to men and 25% of talks to women. And from there I started to read more and more, and find more and more stats.
why are you so loud when you talk?
I don't know. I don't really realize when I am so loud. Probably it is due to my Italian temperament, or culture. This is one of the main difficulties I face when it is about living abroad. It is a cultural clash, that sometimes simply make people laugh, but some other times it simply hurts.
What do you like and hate about science and scientific community?
I like, well more, I love, the curiosity and the continuous push towards new things which drives scientists everyday. I love small genuine talks about pure questions, or sharing a coffee with a colleague talking about some problems or results. I hate sarcastic comments, I hate competition among colleagues, and the aggressive attitude that you often find in scientific context.
What is the skewness of the cloud radar Doppler spectrum?
The skewness of the cloud radar Doppler spectrum is a funny variable which can be used to detect the stage of drizzle formation in the cloud. We call drizzle the very tiny raindrops which fall from the clouds. Sometimes they are so small that evaporate before reaching the ground. These drops form in the cloud and the skewness can tell us at which stage of formation they are.
What would you do for climate change if you could decide for all?
I would create and economical system not based on profit, in which more people work less, in which no big transports are needed. I would review our consumption and I would convince people to pursue happiness, not richness.