Once upon a time in Giove

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A conversation with Laura Caciagli

The dream of being a primary school teacher, at first. Then, love at first sight with Geology after reading “A journey to the centre of the Earth”. Get to know Monia Santini, CMCC researcher at Viterbo’s IAFES Division, among mineral collections, scientific passions and American gangster movies.

What’s your job at the CMCC Foundation?
I work as a researcher at IAFES, a scientific division dealing with the assessment of climate change impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, and vice versa. My studies are in particular focused on the role of water resources, my real passion, in the dynamics of ecosystems.

Which road led you to CMCC?
My academic studies: first a degree in Geological Sciences at “Sapienza” University of Rome, and later the PhD in Forest Ecology at University of Tuscia in Viterbo. I started to study soil erosion modeling and the hydrologic cycle around the same time that CMCC was born. Then, when CMCC opened a new scientific division dealing with some of these issues, I was among the first to join the CMCC research team.

Is your current job the one you had dreamed of when you were a child?
Well, yes and no, it depends which age of my life we consider. When I was a child at primary school I wanted to be a primary school teacher, like my mother. I loved going to school and studying has always been my passion. At secondary school, after reading Verne’s book “A journey to the centre of the Earth”, I developed a passion for Earth sciences (the only collection I’ve ever completed was a mineral collection, the kind you buy at a newsstand) and decided to study Geological Sciences.

Could you tell us the most beautiful moment in your life as CMCC researcher?
I can’t identify a single moment, there are many corresponding to the several project proposals with positive outcomes: the funded projects are essential to enlarge our research team, strengthen our lines of research or start new ones. Moreover, there are also the moments, such as conferences and internal meetings, where you can meet people, exchange views and find out new ideas and solutions.

What’s on your workstation?
Well, I can’t say I have only one desk; I move from one office room to another, according to the different issues I’m working on, or the different software I have to use.

What’s the ritual never missing in your work day?
The coffee in the middle of the morning. Ten minutes in which we talk about the last advancements and progress of our work. We are a very close and cohesive group, so we are used to having a coffee break and lunch time altogether.

How do you travel to work?
By car, as I don’t live in fact in Viterbo, where our office is based, but in a small village in the Umbria region called Giove, where I was born. The village is at the border of the Lazio region, so it takes me approximately 30 minutes.

What do you do in your spare time?
I have very little spare time actually, and I don’t have a particular hobby. Therefore what I do in my spare time varies depending of what I organize with my family. I love to mountain bike, and during the week ends I used to bike for more than 50-60 kilometers.

Cinema or literature: give me a title and explain to me your choice
I love cinema very much, in particular American gangster movies: there are movies, such as “The Godfather” (Part I, II, III), “Once upon a time in America” – perhaps the most beautiful film ever,“ The untouchables” – with an extraordinary and unique cast, “Goodfellas”, etc. I don’t remember how many times I have seen these films. I watch them every time that they are broadcasted on TV (and it happens very often!).

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