Simona started her PhD in the MabLab in August 2015 and successfully defended her dissertation in September 2019. Her PhD project focused on movement ecology of wood storks in the southeastern U.S. Specifically, her objective was to quantify fitness consequences of behavioral heterogeneity among individuals in terms of migratory behavior. After formally establishing the status of the population as partially migratory, her results showed that foraging-site selection during breeding mediates fitness consequences of individual migratory choices (i.e., migration or residency). As part of her PhD work, Simona also developed an R package, nestR, to detect nest-sites and estimate avian reproductive outcome from movement data. During the last year of her PhD, Simona was supported by the Everglades Foundation through the 2018 ForEverglades Graduate Scholarship. In 2019, Simona was also recognized with the Outstanding Graduate Student award by the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
Simona is a quantitative ecologist with special expertise in movement ecology; movement fascinates her as a universal component of life histories that shapes patterns and processes across taxa and ecological systems. Simona is particularly interested in using animal telemetry and tracking data as a tool to learn about animal behavior, disentangle the complex feedbacks between individuals and environment, and inform conservation actions in the context of major threats to biodiversity such as landscape fragmentation, biological invasions, and climate change, in all of which movement dynamics play a crucial role.
Before starting her PhD at UF, Simona earned her Master’s degree in Ecology and Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy. Her MS thesis work was conducted in partnership with the Edmund Mach Foundation, Italy, under the supervision of Dr. Luigi Boitani and Dr. Francesca Cagnacci.
Simona is also passionate about teaching programming and reproducible science tools. She is a certified instructor for the Carpentries, whose mission is to foster informatics literacy among researchers worldwide. Since 2017, Simona has been involved with the governance of the UF Carpentries Club by organizing workshops and serving on the Club’s Board.