Lab Team

Tommaso Russo
Associate Professor of Ecology 
Email: Tommaso.Russo@Uniroma2.it
CV pdf

Study of the human impact on marine ecosystems through fishing and pollution. Ecological modeling against overfishing, physical impact on substrates and biocenosis, loss of biodiversity. Satellite data, eDNA, statistics and artificial intelligence in my toolbox. Innate nerd and math/computer science lover


Elena Catucci 
Postdoctoral researcher
Email: catucci.elena@gmail.com

I am ecologist dedicated to marine applied science, modeling and machine learning. My main research focus is on spatial modeling of marine species distributions and the use of Random Forest as machine learning approach. I believe that modeling approaches are effective tools for synthetizing ecological knowledge in a form that is quite hard to reach otherwise. The use of machine learning in the quantification of the interactions between species and environment provides a huge advantage in ecological modeling: it lets the data tell the story.


Simone Franceschini
Postdoctoral researcher
Email: Simone.Franceschini@Uniroma2.it

I completed my Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, where I studied marine and fisheries ecology. During this time, I specialized in the application of spatial models and machine learning algorithms to study population dynamics and anthropogenic impacts. At present, my work is focused on the application of AI object detection models, BRUV and drone technologies to ecological topics.
My main projects at the moment concern: (1) Development of AI tools for automated detection and measurement of reef halos from high-resolution satellite imagery in the Pacific Ocean; (2)
Building a web information tool for improving management, conservation, and scientific communication of/about coral reef ecosystems; (3) Development of machine learning tools for assessing the impact of the Belo Monte dam on freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity in the Amazon Forest; (4) Spatial models for studying marine litter distribution in the Mediterranean Sea


Davide Cicala
Postdoctoral researcher
Email: davide.cicala@gmail.com

I am an aquatic ecologist with research interest spanning marine coastal ecosystems to shallow and volcanic lakes. My work primarily focus on community level responses of fish to environment stressors such as anthropogenic pressure, natural disturbance and biological invasions. I received a Ph.D. form University of Rome “La Sapienza” 2019, and undertook Post-Doctoral research at Water Research institute of Italian National research council (CNR-IRSA) until 2021. I use stable isotopes (SI), niche and diet analysis as well as quantitative ecology to examine the trophic mechanisms through which environmental changes modify aquatic community structure and ecosystems functioning.

Giulia Maiello 
PhD Student
Email: giulia.maiello@uniroma2.it

I am a marine biologist particularly interested in all the aspects related to biodiversity and conservation! I’m currently doing a PhD which aims to investigate the possibility of using DNA metabarcoding to reconstruct the composition of catches obtained from bottom-trawl fishing vessels. I am working on the Mediterranean Sea and the final goal of my project is to associate novel monitoring methods based on eDNA metabarcoding with the activity of fishermen at sea to have a more comprehensive understanding of the distribution of species across the oceans in order to implement management policies to reverse the stock depletion and moving towards more sustainable fishing practices.


Federico Di Maio
PhD Student
Email: Federico.Dimaio@Studio.Unibo.it

I am a marine biologist and my work concerns the assessment and monitoring of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea, with particular interest in bottom trawling in the Strait of Sicily.
I am currently doing a PhD in “Innovative Technologies and Sustainable Use of Fisheries and Biological Resources in the Mediterranean Sea” with the objective of simulating the effects of alternative management measures for bottom trawling and of assessing the economic performance of marine fisheries by the use of a bio-economic model called SMART.
The objective of my work is to facilitate management decisions in order to support both the repopulation of the overexploited stocks and a more sustainable fishery.


Alice Sbrana 
PhD Student 
Email: alice.sbrana@uniroma2.it

I am interested in marine ecology and applied sciences. My PhD research focuses on the impacts of plastics in demersal communities exploited by fishing, combining ecological models based on: diet analysis of marine species, scientific surveys, and examination of long-term datasets. My work is dedicated to assessing and predicting the effect of disturbances on the functioning of marine ecosystems.


Nuno Henrique Marques Sales Henriques 
PhD Student
Email: nhhenriques@ualg.pt

My main research interest focuses on the improvement of our knowledge on fisheries temporal and spatial dynamics. With this information we can improve the management and sustainable use of our Seas. I am very interested on answering questions like “Where are we fishing?”, “How many gears and how many kms of gears do we have fishing at a given time?”, “How long does fishing gears stay in the water while fishing?”. I am also very curious about the spatial and temporal patterns of fisheries catches as this knowledge is paramount to improve the sustainable management and even conservation of marine species. In order to explore these ideas and to try to answer these questions. Data science, modellng and machine learning techniques are the most suitable tools to explore and answer the aforementioned ideas and questions. Which is why I am also very excited and passionate about these “geek-ish” skills