Join us in a warm welcome (back) to Dr. Federica Lacasella! Federica was a visiting graduate student researcher in the Gratton lab back in 2011 and now she has returned to our group as a postdoctoral researcher. Kaitlin recently asked Federica some questions about her work and whether or not she’s happy to come back to Wisconsin winters.
I’m from Rome, Italy
I got my PhD at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. My dissertation dealt with habitat fragmentation and edge effect in forest-grassland mosaics. I studied the responses of ground-dwelling arthropod communities across forest-grassland ecotones in central Italy. Our results show that when compared with grassland community a greater proportion of forest species can spill over into the matrix. This open new perspective from a conservation point of view, especially in Europe where open habitat communities are undergoing a severe biodiversity loss often associated with forest encroachment.
What will you be working on in the Gratton lab?
I’ll be working on the effects of landscape structure on ecosystem services such as natural enemy occurrence in bioenergy landscapes. The presence of natural and seminatural habitats is supposed to enhance both abundance and richness of pest predators. These, in turn, are expected to positively affect the crop physiology and consequently crop yields.
What are you most excited about to be doing back at UW?
UW offers a lively environment where people can interact and develop new ideas. I’m really excited to collaborate with this new team!
Yes, I’m glad to be back in Wisconsin. My family and I have many beautiful memories from our last stay. We are looking forward to visit museums (the Geology Museum has been one of our favorite places) and Henry Vilas Zoo.
I like simple things, so I usually spend my free time with my kids, cooking and baking with them, exploring new places or revisiting others. This year we are applying for a plot at the Eagle Heights Community Garden, so probably we will garden, too.
Sure! It doesn’t snow in Rome and winters are usually pretty warm there, so living surrounded by cold and snow is new and funny at the same time.
What’s your favorite insect?
Dragonfly! It’s bright colored, beautiful, fast and smart at the same time. Do you know an insect better than that?