photo credit Nerissa Escanlar

My name is Donato Giovannelli and I am an Entrepreneur and a Microbial Ecologist working on the microbiology of extreme environments. I recently hired Assistant Professor at the University of Naples “Federico II”. I’m also an Affiliated Scientist at the Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo (elsi.jp/), a Visiting Associate Research Professor at Rutgers University, USA (marine.rutgers.edu/deep-seamicrobiology/). I am also part of a new no-profit institute dedicated to exploring the origins and nature of awareness, YHouse (yhousenyc.org), located in Manhattan, New York, USA.

I received my B.Sc. in Marine Biology (2005) and M.Sc. in Marine Ecology (2007) from the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy. From 2007 to 2010 I worked as a graduate assistant at the Polytechnic University of Marche and the Institute of Marine Science of the National Research Council of Italy. I obtained my Ph.D. in Applied Biology, Microbiology and Ecology in 2013 from the University of Naples Federico II. After the PhD I’ve spent time as a Postdoctoal Fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Costa Vetriani at Rutgers University, as a Visiting Scholar in the Program in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA, and as a EON Research Fellow at ELSI, Japan.

I am fundamentally interested in the co-evolution of the biosphere and the geosphere and how life influences planetary-scale processes. My current research focuses on two major themes, integrally linked to each other: 1) the microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning of extreme environments and their role in global biogeochemistry; and 2) reconstructing the emergence and evolution of metabolism. This diverse interests stems from three basic assumptions underlying my research: i) prokaryotes dominated the evolutionary history of our planet; ii) they are responsible for the bio in biogeochemistry both at the ecosystem level and through time; and iii) extremophilic prokaryotes living in extreme environments resembling early Earth analogs, despite being extant organisms, retain a higher number of ancestral metabolic traits. In my work, I combine classic microbiology techniques with data from comparative genomic, phylogenetic, and environmental surveys and computational approaches to reconstruct geo-bio interactions. For more information on current and past project visit the Project page.

I am a convinced supporter of Open Science, and I am currently involved in the OPERAS (OPEn Research And Science Group) of the National Research Council of Italy, an interdepartmental group dedicated to promote Open Science practices within the research community. I try to be as transparent as possible with my research, and I am (slowly) uploading all my code, my protocols and my data to GitHub, FigShare or other appropriate open access databases.

I am also the co-founder of a nanotechnology company, Nano-Tech S.p.A (italnanotech.com), where I am still involved as advisor and I founded a biotech startup, Cypress Biotechnology (cypressbiotech.com). Recently, I started a early-stage startup advisory company, The Foundry (thefroundry.it).

Besides teaching in academia on topics related to microbiology, microbial ecology and extreme environments, I often lecture on themes related to entrepreneurship, startups and the relationship between technology, sustainability, innovation and business.