5 august 2015

This award is a source of great pride for me; it is the result of considerable effort and sacrifice and the passion that drives me. It rewards the excellence of the research carried out at the Politecnico, particularly by the group in which I was able to complete my PhD, led by Professor Giulio Cerullo. I believe the key to this achievement was working in a stimulating environment with people who are enthusiastic about their work, and having the opportunity to collaborate with internationally-renowned research groups

enthuses Margherita Maiuri, former PhD student of the Department of Physics and now a Post-Doc at Princeton in the United States, who won the Research Debut prize in the ENI Awards 2015.

Every year, prizes are awarded to two theses by young people under the age of 30 who have achieved a PhD at an Italian university. Margherita won the prize for her thesis in the field of renewable energy, entitled "Ultrafast Energy and Electron Transfer Processes in Natural and Artificial Light Harvesting Systems".

"During my research, which is to do with the study of photosynthetic processes, nature provided the inspiration and guidelines for my attempt to construct biomimetic processes that literally replicate those found in plants. Using ultrashort lasers, I was able to observe the initial phases of the process of photosynthesis in real time".

For Margherita, this presented a real challenge: 

The idea was to find new, artificial materials that could efficiently reproduce the harvest and transfer of solar energy, as occurs in natural organisms.

Margherita has wonderful memories of her studies at the Politecnico and, in two years, at the end of her experience in Princeton, she will be returning to Milan to work thanks to a study grant funded by the European Community.

I’d like to bring what I’m learning from this experience back to the Politecnico with me, and not only from a professional perspective. Here, the timescales and methods for research are completely autonomous, dictated by your own wishes and motivation, and you can contact extremely high-profile researchers and lay the foundations for new projects and ideas.

"It’s difficult to make predictions about the future. I’ll certainly be continuing my career in the academic world and trying to reconcile it with my private life; I have a partner who works in the United States like me and shares my passion for travel"

The travels dear to Margherita’s heart will undoubtedly include her journey to Rome in October to collect her prize, which will be presented to her by the President of the Italian Republic himself.