Born and raised in Sicily (Italy), Barbara started her studies in chemistry at the University of Palermo where she obtained her first Bachelor’s degree with an exchange period spent in La Coruña (Spain). To improve her background and gain insights in advanced level of chemistry and analytical techniques, she enrolled in the “Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy” international Master of Science at Universität Leipzig (Germany). During the master, she carried out internships at three different research institutions. Working in cutting-edge research environments has been critical for developing her specific competences in analytical techniques, water science, environmental chemistry and biochemistry. She graduated in December 2017 after a research thesis carried out at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble (France), where she has developed new functional self-assembled surfactant materials. After that, she worked as research assistant at the Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (iBB), (Instituto Superior Técnico) in Lisbon where she was involved in the treatment and recycling of food processing wastewater.
Passionate about the water environment she has decided to take a gap year and to sail from Europe to America where she volunteered in NGOs, which aims are to raise awareness about environmental protection through education and promote all the activities which protect the water bodies.
Currently, Barbara is an Early Stage Researcher at KU Leuven. She is working on the ESR 14 InnovEOX project “Combined electrochemical oxidation and biological wastewater treatment” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. ir. Lise Appels. Her research focuses on on the implementation of the eAOP techniques developed in other WPs in biological wastewater treatment processes. This implementation will reveal fundamental insights in the long-term impact of partial eAOP on the performance of (an)aerobic systems for the purification of wastewater, in terms of process efficiency and microbial community dynamics and activity. Furthermore, she will design a continuous upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor (UASB) for combined eAOP and wastewater treatment and set the guideline for the optimized operation of these reactors, providing an energetic assessment of the overall process.
In her free time, Barbara likes to be involved in water sports, to ferment different kind of foods and to learn new languages (so far, she speaks 6).