Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?
I took my BSc in Business and Economics at the University of Pavia, my hometown in Italy. After that I decided to move to the UK, and I studied for my MSc and PhD in Economics at the University of Warwick. My PhD research tackled the relationship between technological change, the distribution of skills in the labour force, and unemployment. Later on, I focussed more on Labour Market issues, so I would class myself more as a labour economist nowadays. My current interests are on the edge between Labour Economics and Higher Education research. I am interested in several issues, such as how we can facilitate access to HE for students coming from disadvantaged background, as well as: student learning, student satisfaction, and student confidence.
What do you think makes studying Economics at UEA special?
The School of Economics at UEA has grown so much over the past few years, both in reputation and in the number of faculty members. It is a friendly environment and a melting pot of different cultures, ideas, and interests. I think that members of staff really work well as a team like I have never seen anywhere else, and this is one of our strengths, which impacts on our teaching immensely. Our doors are open, and we are always happy to talk and engage with our students. As the song says: “…there’s no place I’d rather be!”
How do you embrace modern technology in your teaching methods?
I am a strong advocate of Student Response Systems, or ‘clickers’ as they call them. They allow me to interact with students while I teach, and they are an essential component of my lectures and workshops. I am also a fond Twitter user: it makes communication so swift and easy to handle, inside and outside the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My job is great because it is so diverse. I teach students, spend time alone doing research in my office, meet with colleagues to discuss about teaching and research, travel to present my work or receive training…it is very dynamic. I could get easily bored from doing the same thing over and over, but there is never a dull moment in my job. The most rewarding moments are when students or colleagues get in touch with me, and tell me that I have made the difference. Amazing!
How do you engage with students both inside and outside of classes?
I think the secret for being an engaging teacher is being passionate about what I do. Probably students can also see how much fun I am having while I am teaching, which makes it fun for everybody. When outside the classroom, I get involved in our ECO Socials: the pub quizzes are so much fun, as well as the EcoSoc barbecue, or the ECO Coffee Afternoons.
What should students expect from their first year?
Life will be intense. There will be opportunity to do so many things, like meeting people from different cultures and nationalities, discovering new ways to learn, discovering new ways to think, and discovering oneself. Each day is made of 24 hours, so my suggestion is: do not miss anything! There will be time to learn and study, time to socialise, time to sleep, eat, and do sports. Each of these activities is important: find your balance.
What are your interests away from academia?
Academia for me is not just a job, but a lifestyle. It is difficult to separate out my academic life from my interests. For inst
ance, I love travelling and seeing new places, and I do a lot with my job, attending conferences and networking events. When the job side of my trip is over, I enjoy exploring around and talking to people. I love modern and contemporary art, and I am often seen in Tate Modern in London. To keep fit I practice Combat, which is a blend of mixed martial arts and high-impact cardio-workout. To know and do something well one has to teach it to others, so my dream is becoming a Combat instructor one day…