Biodiversity protection across cross-border areas


I’m Claudia and a month ago I began my experience as IVY volunteer.

After the graduation in Environmental Analysis and Management at the University of Palermo (Italy), I started working on marine immunobiology following the path traced during my MSc thesis research time. Since then, the curiosity that has always characterized me, and the idea of being able to make my contribution to a greater cause in marine science, pushed on a step forward.

And … here I’m now taking part as IVY volunteer at the Interreg Project HARMONY Italy-Malta hosted by the Laboratory of Ecology at the University of Palermo (Lead Partner of the project) a super cool community of scientists working on marine biodiversity protection across the cross-border area between Italy and Malta. Through targeted monitoring interventions and the elaboration of shared and coordinated strategies between the two countries, HARMONY aims to prevent the loss of ecosystem goods and services. Sampling, laboratory activities and stakeholders engagement have been cornerstones of the project up to now!

Unfortunately, as we know, in recent months, Italy (and not only) is facing the emergency caused by the coronavirus Covid-19. We are in lockdown, this meant that the laboratory activities planned were reduced to a minimum, until the complete closure of the premises of the University of Palermo (the host organization) following the decrees of the Italian Government.

But, that didn’t stop us! Being patient and positive we continued to work from home! Lots of meetings in videoconference (comfortably in tracksuit and slippers) have already allowed to plan everything dealing with next steps. Literature reading above all to check for techniques to be develop and inspire new approached to be tested once back in Lab! I’ve personally took advantage of this period to do an in-depth research in the literature mostly on markers able to give information on the health status of fish as proxy of their reference habitats, from there I have developed my personal “to do list” of protocols and analysis techniques. Once back, I’ll be ready, in a few days, to process the samples in the best way possible!

In the HARMONY framework, as IVY fellow, I will be in charge of carrying out tests on tissues of different species of fish, challenging my expertise in the immunological field. Even if it’s only been a month, I feel I wish anyone to be part of the IVY volunteer program as it is a wonderful opportunity to support research and learn acquiring skills and mentoring, and I can’t wait to continue this adventure and offer my contribution!

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