Returning to Italy after 11 years and opening his own research laboratory: this is the adventure of Giacomo Novembre, a Florentine neuroscientist, a degree in Philosophy from our University and a decade of studies abroad, which won one of the most coveted grants, the European Starting grant, worth 1.5 M euros. Thanks to this fund, he will soon open his own laboratory at the Rome office of the Italian Institute of Technology, dedicated to the study of cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on sensory-motor integration, social interaction, and music. Of San Raffaele University, where he graduated in Philosophy of Mind and Language, he says: "Its strengths are certainly the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum and training offer, and the quality of its teaching staff".
Your University Studies
After the three-year degree in Philosophy of Mind and Language at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, I moved abroad, where I lived for 11 years, in four different countries, always dealing with Cognitive Neuroscience. I first obtained (i) a Research Master's degree from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and then (ii) a PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Science, in Leipzig, Germany. I then worked as a Research Lecturer in Sydney, at the Marcs Institute for Brain, Behavior and Development, and later as a Research Associate at University College London, England. Since 2018 I have returned to Italy, where I work at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Why you enrolled at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University
I was looking for a place to study the human mind considering both the philosophical and the scientific aspects. My goal was to be able to start with an inter-disciplinary approach, in order to then get specialized. I found exactly what I was looking for, as well as a lot of stimuli and enthusiasm for the study subjects that I have never left.
What opportunities our University has given you
I got plenty of them. The university is made up of distinguished personalities of Italian philosophical and scientific thought. They were not limited to just lecturing, but often confronted each other, giving rise to heated debates that we students witnessed. What more can you ask for?
What you currently do
I am about to open my research laboratory at the IIT, based in Rome. My laboratory will deal with the same issues I worked on during my research career: cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on sensory-motor integration, social interaction, and music. Our experiments often use electroencephalography (EEG) on humans (recently also on other species), coupling it with behavioral measures such as kinematics, or trans-cranial stimulation. My research will be mainly funded by a European grant I won in 2020, an ERC StG, which amounts to around 1.5 million euros.
The main strength of the education provided by San Raffaele
Regarding my career, its strength was certainly the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum and its training offer. Furthermore, the quality of the teaching staff was certainly an element of great strength. If I hadn't met professors like Edoardo Boncinelli (my thesis supervisor, for whom I will always feel infinite esteem and gratitude), or Matteo Motterlini and Andrea Moro (who strongly stimulated and supported me when I decided to move abroad), I would not have the same path.
Your best quality
My enthusiasm and tenacity.
Since I studied Philosophy at San Raffaele, I choose a quote from the greatest philosopher of all time: "...Dwelling as it does in the highest region of the body, it marks us and links us as akin with heaven—as a celestial and not a terrestrial plant, having root in heaven and not in earth" (Plato, Timaeus)
One day far away I would like to teach neuroscience to philosophers.