On February 10th 2018 in San Francisco Nicolo’ Spiezia gathered 30 people, who graduated at University of Padova, and who were eager to meet, exchange experiences, make friends and recall the memories of their years spent at University. The group recognized itself as a branch of the Alumni association of the University of Padova, identifying goals, values and a mission that motivated the members to start a no profit association. The support of the Italian General Consulate of San Francisco, the Italian Institute of San Francisco and the work of a small group of members who committed to work for the growth of the association, made possible the establishment of a no profit association, which was officially founded on February 17th 2019, one year after the first courageous kick off given by Nicolo’. Today our association works to support and delight the life of their members through networking opportunities, recreational activities, professional and personal enrichment. Additionally the association wants to strengthen the link with the University of Padova and facilitate exchange programs of students, scholars and entrepreneurs between the Bay Area and the University of Padova. To get in contact with the Board of Directors write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco & Bay Area Chapter
Immagine del logo del Gruppo
San Francisco & Bay Area Chapter
An Online Spritz with….. Lorenza Moro, phD in Physics and expert in the development of flexible displays, tells us her personal professional story, shares thoughts and opinions about the life in the Bay Area and gives meaningful advice capitalizing on her extensive experience.
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San Francisco & Bay Area Chapter
San Francisco Bay Area Chapter history: 24 settembre 2019 APERICENA al consolato generale di San Francisco
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San Francisco & Bay Area Chapter
OUR ONLINE SPRITZ: ROBERTA SALA In honor of Women’s history month, today we meet Roberta Sala, PhD, biologist at Stanford. ___________________________________________ Q: Roberta, tell us your story A: I studied Molecular Biology at the University of Padua. Later, I obtained my PhD degree in London at the Imperial College with a thesis on cancer preclinical diagnosis using PET imaging. Since 2014, I have been working as a postdoc at Stanford. Q: Please tell us about your research and which projects are you working on A: My field of research is cell and molecular biology. I am currently working with pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells), which are able to generate any cell type that makes up our bodies. My current lab has developed a simplified method to obtain early stage germ cells (the precursors of sperm and oocytes), and I am now characterizing these cells to understand what cell type they represent. I am also working on the biology of rejuvenation thanks to a collaboration with a local startup. Q: Did you end to accomplish your child dreams? A: Yes: at the age of 7, I decided that I wanted to become a scientist. My sister was born with a DNA defect, and therefore I was intrigued to understand how DNA works and what I could do to help. I am not really working in the field of my sister’s syndrome, but nonetheless I am a scientist working with cells and trying to understand how they perform their functions, which are determined by the set of genes that are active at specific times. Q:Which are the biggest obstacles that you have faced so far in your career? A: Finding a PhD in the UK was not easy. My search coincided with the 2008-2009 financial crisis; therefore, finding a position was more difficult than before due to lack of funding for non-UK citizens. At the moment, I am especially experiencing how hard it is living far away from my family and my partner; insofar as I am realizing my dream of being a scientist, staying so far away from my loved ones definitely is not easy and requires a lot of determination. Currently, I am struggling with understanding what my future will be, which country I will be living in, what job I’ll end up doing. Q: Did you have a mentor in your career development? Is there a particular person who had a peculiarly strong impact on your professional choices? If yes, how? A: Not really...I had advisors, but I should really thank myself, my persistence and my determination, for being where I am now. The year when I was looking for a PhD position in the UK I had the chance to briefly work in a lab as a volunteer, and I am really grateful to the professor who offered this opportunity to me. He was probably the person who knew me the least but offered an opportunity to a student who was eager to pursue a career in science. Other than that, no one ever told me to do what I have done so far, and no one really helped me to achieve what I did. I just kept pushing to achieve what I set out for myself. My best supporters are my parents, my family, and a few friends, specifically some close friends from the time at the University of Padua! Throughout my life I have been taught to be independent, to work hard to achieve my dreams, and I am only now realizing that I should look for mentors who could guide me and help me to decide the next steps in my career.! Q: Do you have any advice for young professionals and students who would like to work in your field? which? A: Be persistent, never give up, experience research outside of Italy...it’s a great opportunity to see how research is done around the world, to meet amazing people and learn about new cultures. Never think that you are not good enough, it’s probably not true and, in any case, you should try! My main mantra is to try even if you think that you might not end up getting what you want...if you don’t apply for a job/grant/whatever you will never get it, but if you try there is at least a chance that you might indeed get what you want. I first learned that when applying for PhD positions, but it still applies to my daily life. Really, the sky is limit! Q: How do you feel about Italy, how is your relationship with Italy, what do you miss of Italy the most? A: I really believe that Italy is a beautiful country, probably the most beautiful because of its art and cultural resources. However, I have never been particularly attracted by it since I moved abroad. I love meeting new cultures and seeing how things are dealt with elsewhere. And it makes me sad to realize that things could be much better in my homeland if the people who are running it would for a moment think about what’s actually good for the country rather than what’s good for themselves. In terms of research and jobs, I feel that I have no opportunities there. It is unbelievable how researchers struggle in universities, and I don’t like the fact that there are no other possibilities for scientists other than doing research in university institutions. That is not the case in other countries in Europe, and certainly it’s not the case here in the Silicon Valley or in the US in general. What do I miss about Italy? Of course my family and partner...and definitely great food!!! Good food can be found here, but it’s ridiculously expensive. Some items cannot be found though...one that I really miss is speck...I love it and therefore crave it so much!!! Q: Which aspects of the education you received at Padova’s University are still influencing, both positively and negatively you as a person and as a scientist? A: I fell in love with cell biology during my time in Padua. Learning about the cell cycle was so fascinating to me that I still love to learn more about it. However, I still remember some injustices that happened during my studies. Exams being valued randomly, professors that weren’t really able to do their job, student offices that were driving us crazy. I don’t think that is specifically a characteristic of the University of Padua, but I remember some instances where I had to fight the system to actually do what should have been more straightforward. Hopefully, the situation is better now. Q: How important has been the university of Padova for you and your career? Does coming from such a old and prestigious institution helped you anyhow? A: I thank the university of Padua for my degrees and for the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus program, even if I didn’t enjoy how the administration dealt with it. This gave me the opportunity to experience research in a different country for the first time. Other than that, I don’t think that the University has helped me in any way to progress in my career. It’s been quite disappointing to not have any support from the University once out of there, and learn that some services provided to students were incredibly inadequate. Q: What does the Bay Area/Silicon valley/California represent for you? What are the strengths and the weaknesses of the American research model and what are those of the Italian one? A: California represents the great weather! Sometimes too cold for my likings though! Jokes aside, the Bay Area represents the land of opportunity for me. There are so many different job possibilities that a scientist can explore here, and society really values scientists for their contributions. In fact, research in the US can count on government funds (it’s definitely wrong to think that research funds come from big pharma, as it is not true according to my experience), scientists and young people are valued, and there are incredible opportunities. There are no age restrictions in general, and no categories in terms of what job a person is suitable for. If someone can prove that they are good for a job that’s enough. None of these are available in Italy. There is no interest in investing in research and innovation especially when it comes to life sciences, and definitely no interest in investing in and give credit to young and talented individuals. This is especially true in my field. It’s particularly difficult to leave what you have accomplished abroad to go back to a society that does not recognize your experience and competence. Whenever I go back, I really feel like a foreigner, and that’s probably because I passed the point of no-return... I’ve probably been already away from Italy too long. Q: What can the alumni association do for you? I am actually not really expecting much from the alumni association. It’s great to hear someone else’s experience and meet people living in the area who can share amazing stories. It creates a sense of community, and networking is definitely part of the Silicon Valley life! Q: What can you do it for it? I am happy to be part of a community and I like to share my experiences. Mentoring other people is something that I enjoy, and I am generally available if people need me. I am part of several associations in the area, such as the ISSNAF Bay Area Chapter, so it’s easy to understand that I enjoy being part of a larger community. I am also curious to learn more about the plans that the association has for the future to better understand the goals and what I can be useful for.
San Francisco & Bay Area Chapter
OUR ONLINE SPRITZ: ALBERTO MALVESTIO Alberto Malvestio is co owner of AMARE GELATO with two locations: the first one in Berkeley and the second, recently opened, in Pleasanton. ALMARE produces an outstanding product according to Italian recipes and procedures. Alberto, on the left, with his business partner Simone Alberto, tell us how did your American story begun. I came here in the 2006 at the age of 36 mainly for the curiosity of living in my wife’s country. I left my job, my house, my family, my friends and I tried to create my new life here in California, specifically in Berkeley. What happened next? After exploring the area for job opportunities, I decided to start my own business, and one year and a half later, in 2008, I opened the doors of my gelateria. Today we have two retail locations and some wholesale, mainly to supply restaurants. Which are the biggest obstacles that you have faced? From the first day, the main obstacle was the language, particularly speaking on the phone. Really: sometimes I had to ask 2 or 3 times to repeat before understanding what was being said to me. Secondarily, since there were here no jobs in sports gear manufacturing, which was the field where in Italy I used to work as product manager, I had to face a career change. How did you came up with the idea of the gelateria? I decided to open a gelateria because it was probably the easiest way to start my own business. The investment necessary was relatively small, and any retail business has the advantage that the same day that you open the shop’s doors, you start right away to have income. I also had the clear feeling that I could come out with a good product, and also that there was enough room for this kind of initiative in the Bay Area. How did you realize it? I spent a whole exciting year collecting all the necessary information, the money and the courage to start. I recall the first 3 months of activity as the most difficult period of my life: I had to use all the physical and psychological resources I had available. And the same was for my wife whose support was more than crucial to overcome those initial tough times. I started in January 2008; exactly at the beginning of the big global economic crisis, but thanks to hard work and a bit of luck, we were able to get through it. Have you achieved your goals? No, at this point I think I just achieved a starting point for my goals. What will be your next steps? Do you have plans for your future as entrepreneur? My next step need to be negotiated with my business partner who joined the company 6 years ago. I would like the get less involved with the daily problems in my two shops in Berkeley and in Pleasanton, and develop the manufacturing side of the business, dedicated to the gelato supply to restaurants, bars and communities. Did you have a mentor in your career development? Is there a specific person who had a peculiarly strong impact on your professional choices? If yes, who and why? II can definitely say that since I moved here I have been constantly in touch with my father- in-law, he offered precious advices ont every important business decision and also on the other difficulties I encountered. I couldn’t be luckier than I am, having him as a consultant because his experience, his courage and his success as an entrepreneur have no limits. Do you have any advice for young people who would like to work in your field? If yes, which? Yes, I want to tell them that if they decide to start a business with gelato or ice cream they really have to think about it twice because working with a frozen product requires keen attention and a sort of special delicacy . Not to mention the difficulties of dealing with employees, with customers, and with bureaucracy. How do you feel about Italy? I go back to Italy practically every year: it is unthinkable for me to go ahead without seeing once in a while my Italian family, my friends and the places where I grew up. I know that there are many problems in Italy but I don’t care. Every country has them, and I think Italy is still one of the most beautiful and enjoyable countries in the world! Which aspects of the education you received at Padova’s University are still influencing, both positively and negatively you as person and as professional? I think I’m still influenced by the University’s teaching that, when you get assigned a target, you have to work on it with seriousness and perseverance until you achieve it. If I have to mention a negative aspect, I’d say that for me it was very difficult that time to relate with the professors. In theory, their job is to transfer knowledge to their students. But I found them unapproachable and I was afraid to talk to them. How important has been the university of Padova for you and your career? Does coming from such a old and prestigious institution helped you anyhow? For sure, studying in Padova is part of my culture and my knowledge but in my field it is just marginal, just a curiosity, that I mention to people when I’m chatting with them. Frankly, you don’t need to be a mechanical engineer to be a gelataio. What does the Bay Area/Silicon Valley/California represent for you? What are the strengths and the weaknesses of the American business model and what are those of the Italian one? We could speak for hours about that, but what I found relevant to point up is that in this area if you start a business, everybody is happy for you, including the inspectors who are coming to check out your place, the people who are making the permits for you, your friends, your family. Here there is a lot of enthusiasm and positivity in seeing new businesses growing and developing. What do you expect from the Alumni Bay Area chapter association? I’m very enthusiastic about this new Chapter association in the Bay Area. I have met a lot of new people with common interests, and I expect to continue to have new connections. I heard a lot of good ideas for the future and I’ll be more than happy to contribute in some way to the growth of it. What would you like to do to contribute to the growth of the chapter? I have the desire to be an active member, to be present at as many of the events as possible, and if requested, I think I would be even open to paying an annual fee.