Pest-control agent, object and symbol of value in past civilisations, companion animal, and iconic celebrity of the web in the modern society, the domestic cat has an intricate bond with humans. This relationship started more than 10,000 years ago, when cats began scavenging and hunting pests that infested granaries of early farming communities in the Near East. Later in history, cats from Egypt dispersed in the Mediterranean following routes of human trade and connectivity. Cats established a unique and intimate bond with humans, and this, together with their adaptability, determined their global dispersal. Yet, the biological and cultural trajectories behind the development of cat-human interactions, and the implications of the global dispersal and evolutionary success of the domestic cat remain enigmatic. By generating a complementary set of unique and as yet unexplored multidisciplinary data, from paleogenetics, to organic chemistry and microscopy, FELIX will dig deeply into the past of the cat-human relationship by tackling three fundamental variables strongly influenced by the domestication process: genomes, food, and microorganisms. It will unravel how the increasing bond with humans across a wide spectrum of socio-cultural contexts, from prehistoric farming communities to the ancient Egyptian and Medieval societies, shaped the cat genome, leading to behavioural changes that turned cats into pets. It will examine how cats changed their nutritional behaviour while adapting to anthropized ecosystems, and document the temporal trajectories of pathogen infections in cats, shedding light on the rise of zoonotic diseases. This will offer unprecedented evolutionary insights on the debate about animal domestication, and will raise public awareness on the role of the cat as cherished pet, but also as one of the world’s most invasive alien species in natural ecosystems and host of infectious diseases recognized today as public health threats.
Conformal Field Theory (CFT) in low dimensions is one of the most active branches of modern physics, it is amenable to rigorous "axiomatic" formulations, hence it is naturally connected to various areas of mathematical research. For example, to CFTs one can associate braided tensor categories (describing superselection sectors, defects, topological field theories) and subfactors, i.e., inclusions of von Neumann algebras with trivial center (describing extensions, duality properties and exotic charge localizations). All these areas are independently pairwise correlated, e.g., subfactors with CFTs, subfactors with tensor categories, and they have their own history and an extremely profound literature. The aim of my research project is to analyze models of CFT, together with the associated mathematical objects, which are not necessarily "rational", i.e., which may admit infinitely many superselection sectors ("particle" excitations of the vacuum). Examples of non-rational CFTs (which are the majority among all CFTs) come from Virasoro minimal models with central charge bigger than one (there are continuously many), and global gauge theories with respect to a compact non-finite group of internal symmetries. Non-rationality of a CFT also implies that the "size" of the associated categories and subfactors have to be infinite, namely one is led to consider categories with infinite spectrum and subfactors with infinite Jones index. These mathematical objects are natural generalizations of their "finite" counterparts (modular and fusion categories, finite index subfactors), they are physically motivated, but they attracted the attention of researchers only in recent times. This research project aims to study structural properties of non-rational CFTs using modern machinery (e.g., generalized Q-systems, ind-categories, planar algebras), to study infinite braided tensor categories and infinite index subfactors arising from them, and exploit their interplay.
The purpose of this project is therefore to compile palaeo-Italic public inscriptions to analyze their use as a means of social communication from the third to the first centuries B.C. Public epigraphy comprises the inscriptions intended for public display regardless of whether they were the result of an official or private initiative. These texts constitute a peculiar form of social communication which was quite typical in the ancient world. They were used for self representation and to spread and perpetuate a series of solemn messages linked to the fundamental values of society, in particular, the values of its élite. The chosen period, prior to the shaping of the so-called imperial epigraphic culture –which began under Augustus and involved an exponential increase in the ‘epigraphic habit’– is characterized by an incipient proclivity to produce public types of texts and, above all, by a diversity of epigraphic cultures, both with regard to language and script. The work plan consists of producing a census of public inscriptions and cataloguing them in an online database, including the direct analysis of a significant part of the inscriptions. These documents also allow us to study three specific aspects: linguistic changes and the ensuing possible implications on identity; the social groups which promoted them; and the privileged spheres of epigraphic and public communication. The result of my research will be disseminated through publication of papers, a seminar, a conference (PEI) and a monograph. Communication includes a booklet, QR codes, an Instagram account and a didactic activity. As regards my training, this project is fundamental as collaboration with my Supervisor will result in gaining linguistic knowledge to complete my interdisciplinary training, and the secondment will allow me to gain significant experience in Digital Humanities. The MSC allowing me to become a more mature and accomplished researcher capable of directing a research project.
The integration of sensing and communication is attracting a fervent research activity and will result in a myriad of contextual data that, if properly processed, may enable a better understanding of local and global phenomena while increasing the quality, security, and efficiency of our ecosystems. The computing continuum offers a timely and unique solution for processing such a massive volume of sensed data, as it provides virtually unlimited and widely distributed computing resources. Nevertheless, the deployment of data analysis at the edge or in the cloud has many implications regarding latency, privacy, security, and data integrity. As we learn how to sense ubiquitously and we build a tool able to handle the sensed data, the greatest challenge is to understand how and where to process them. The purpose of this project is the development of a pioneering framework to guide the design of federated and distributed inference systems, leveraging sensing and communication and harnessing the computing continuum. The framework will build on: (i) the definition of statistical and mathematical models for the sensed data, which capture the complex and interrelated phenomena underpinning sensing and communication systems, with different levels of integration; (ii) the development of cloud-native inference algorithms, mainly distributed and parallelized, with scalable complexity that can be adapted to dynamic performance requirements; (iii) the design of orchestration strategies to guide the flexible deployment of the inference process at the edge and in the cloud with a dynamic allocation of the computing resources. The aim is to overcome the paradigmatic accuracy-complexity trade-off that has driven distributed inference for decades, leading to a paradigm shift that encompasses multi-level performance indicators beyond accuracy, including latency, integrity, privacy, and security aspects and how these impact the confidence on the inferred phenomena.
WHY: To effectively bring siRNA-based therapeutic for cancer immunotherapy into the hands of clinicians requires the development of fundamentally new mechanisms to overcome current drawbacks. Accomplishing this will enable more efficient treatment with less side effects. WHAT: RE-IMMUNE is an interdisciplinary programme in which the field of nanomaterial and nucleic acid nanotechnology merge to develop intelligent nano- encapsulated siRNA for safe and efficient delivery of siRNA in cancer-associated immune cells, to re-program and shift the tumor microenvironment from pro to anti-tumoral. To achieve this goal, I will undertake a high risk/high gain programme at the forefront of nanomedicine. The leading idea is to overcome the drawbacks of naked siRNA by combining two synergic strategies that will protect siRNA until recognition of its target site. I will evaluate intracellular trafficking of siRNA nanodevices and the silencing effect. I will also investigate possible synergic effect of a siRNA cocktail able to target different genes at the same time. Finally, I will evaluate the re-immunoediting action in vivo. HOW: The challenge met by the proposed program is to provide a groundbreaking contribution to cancer treatment. To achieve these objectives, I will combine the different scientific backgrounds and expertise of two leading scientists. Prof. Frank Caruso (University of Melbourne) is a world-wide recognized expert on nanomaterials and biomedicine, and Prof. Francesco Ricci (University of Rome Tor Vergata) leads a young and dynamic group at the forefront of DNA nanotechnology for sensing and drug-delivery applications. The fellowship will proceed through a well-defined set of research and training tasks. Thanks to this MSC Fellowship, I will diversify my scientific knowledge and acquire cutting-edge competences (in nanomaterials, microscopy, and nanoscopy), as well as complementary skills, which will become the foundation of my scientific independence.