Zeno Lavagnino

Mar 30, 2018

My name is Zeno Lavagnino,

I was born in Genoa in May, 1984. Besides science, my passions are playing drums, cooking, politics, listening to music, watching movies, and playing tennis.

I was a PhD Student in the Nanosciences Program (January 1st, 2011 – April 28th, 2014), developing novel optical fluorescence microscopy techniques in the department of Nanophysics, under the supervision of Alberto Diaspro.

I left IIT at the end of June 2014. I started my first post-doc in the Molecular Physiology & Biophysics Department at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee (USA) under the mentorship of David W. Piston.

My project was based on developing snapshot hyperspectral light-sheet microscopy.

One year later, in July 2015, our lab moved to Washington University in St. Louis (St.Louis, Missouri, USA). From that moment on, my research interest has focused on using advanced light-sheet-based fluorescence microscopy techniques to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of glucagon secretion in the pancreatic islet of Langerhans.

In 2017 I was awarded with a JDRF Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue my work at WashU, and in January 2018 I received from the European Union a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to start a project combining light-sheet imaging and single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization to reveal the correlation between heterogeneities of calcium activity in subpopulations of glucagon-secreting alpha-cells with their differential gene expression.

I started my scientific education in physics, and worked on experimental and theoretical characterization of fluorescence imaging systems during my undergraduate thesis research at the University of Genoa. I completed my PhD research in Alberto Diaspro’s lab at the Italian Institute of Technology. During my time there, my project related to building and characterizing light-sheet fluorescence microscopes combined with other techniques to exploit the capabilities of light-sheet imaging for high temporal and spatial resolution. My experience at IIT was of invaluable quality and significance. I had the possibility to discover multiple new areas of research thanks to the incredible interdisciplinarity fostered at the Institute. It was a unique experience, which allowed me to meet people from many different countries, and expand my knowledge not only in science but in culture overall by discussing with them. This is really one of the most peculiar aspects of IIT, a truly, diverse and exciting environment allowing to perform cutting-edge research with talented scientists from all over the world.

This allowed me to develop independent thinking and build an international network of friends and collaborators, from which I still benefit today. Through my research at IIT, I became fascinated by the new biological knowledge that could be gained through applying the technological developments I was developing with Diaspro’s team.  Accordingly, I decided to move towards biological research, and apply the quantitative microscopy techniques I had mastered.  This led me to join David Piston’s (a leader and a world-renowned expert in optical microscopy), which is established in both the quantitative imaging and islet biology fields.

 I have many memories at IIT. However, two of them are my favorites:

1- The first time I recorded an image with the very first microscope I built completely from scratch. The satisfaction of demonstrating that something you built actually works and it might be useful for someone else to discover even a small simple mechanism that eventually might be relevant to uncover a complex biological process is really priceless.

2- When I realized that Silvia Galiani, one of my lab mates, was not only going to become a bright, talented scientist to discuss with, but also becoming one of the best friends I could ever find in my whole lifetime. 




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