team

NI consortium is founded by identifying the required partners for the specific expertise needed to achieve the goals of the project. It consists of eight partners, from five European countries: Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Five of the consortium members - UNIPI, IMPERIAL, ETH ZÜRICH, TU DELFT, and KINGSTON - are higher education institutions; two partners - CSIC and ISPRA - are governmental organizations, and one partner QBROBOTICS SRL is a SME. Four third parties - UNISI, UNIPG, UNIMI, and UNISS - provide the Botany expertise to complement the NI consortium. They will act as end-users helping in KPI definition and in situ validation.

partners

Università di Pisa - Research Center "E. Piaggio"

The Università di Pisa (UNIPI), founded in 1343, is among the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, with alumni such as Galilei, Volterra and Fermi. The Research Centre “Enrico Piaggio”, founded in 1962 organizes interdisciplinary research among engineering, medicine, and biological scientists towards applications in Bioengineering and Robotics. The Robotics Group of the Research Centre “Enrico Piaggio” focuses on robotics and embedded automation. The group is among the originators of the modern approach to physical human-robot interaction, where it has been advocating intrinsic safety via the co-design of mechanics and control, oriented towards performance maximization within rigid safety constraints. Particular attention has been focused on the study of actuation, hands and haptics since at least 20 years.

Manolo Garabini - coordinator

PhD assistant professor of Automatic Control and researcher at the Research Centre “E.Piaggio” and at the Department of Information Engineering of the Università di Pisa. His main research interests lie in the field of design, planning, control and optimal control of soft robots. He is co-founder of qbrobotics s.r.l., a spin-off company of the Research Centre "E. Piaggio" and the Italian Institute of Technology of which the mission is to foster the diffusion of soft-robots. He is currently Principal Investigator in the EU Project THING (780883) for the Research Centre “E. Piaggio” and the Coordinator of DYSTURBANCE, a sub-project of the EU project EUROBENCH (779963). He was actively involved in the WALK-MAN Italian team at the DARPA robotic challenge, and he took part in a post-earthquake robotic field test in Amatrice, Italy.

Franco Angelini

PhD research fellow at Research Center “E. Piaggio”, Università di Pisa. He received a PhD in robotics (cum laude, 2020), from University of Pisa, Italy. From 2016 to 2020 he was a fellow of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Italy, within the Soft Robotics for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation (SoftBot) Research Line. He was a Visiting PhD student (September 2018 to March 2019) at Institute for Perception, Action, and Behaviour (IPAB), University of Edinburgh. His research interests include design and control of soft robotic systems, impedance planning and control, and robotic grasping.

Riccardo Mengacci

Received a B.S. degree in Information and Automation Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona in 2013 and a Master's Degree in Automation and Robotics Engineering from the University of Pisa in 2017. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the Research Center "E. Piaggio'' of the University of Pisa and his research activity focuses on design and control strategies for robotics applications with a particular interest in compliant robots and impedance controlled robots.

Carla Papa

Project manager at the Research Centre “E. Piaggio ”, University of Pisa. She received the M.A. Degree in Conservation of Cultural Heritage with a specialization in underwater archaeology, from the Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples. After a long experience in the field of Cultural Heritage, and a period at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa as a scientific collaborator within the Thesaurus project (Techniques for underwater exploration and archaeology through swarms of autonomous vehicles), she gained a personal interest in technological innovations applied to the cultural field, and in the identification and management of public and private funding for the scientific and technological research. Since 2014 she has worked at the Research Center "E. Piaggio" of the University of Pisa on the management of European and National funded projects, in the fields of biomedical engineering, social robotics, and in the Europe-Africa international cooperation. She also collaborates as an independent advisor, writing projects in the Cultural Heritage scope.

Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine

Imperial ranks 3rd in Europe and 10th in the World on Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020. The Dyson School of Design Engineering (DSDE) was formed in July 2014 as the 10th Department of the Faculty of Engineering, ICL to provide a strong research and learning environment by addressing the fusion of design thinking, engineering thinking and practice, within a culture of innovation and enterprise. DSDE is home to 48 PhD students and 18 post-doctoral research associates at present. Robotics and Biomechanics is its largest research group with 4 principle investigators (PIs) leading research laboratories in embodied intelligence, grasping, machine learning, and biomechanics. The Robotics and Biomechanics group has made pioneering contributions to our understanding about how physical mechanisms such as soft tissue and musculo-skeletal structures can be conditioned to simplify the computation for perception and stable action in unstructured environments.

Thrishantha Nanayakkara - local PI

Asociate professor in Design Engineering and Robotics at Dyson School of Design Engineering (DSDE), Imperial College London , where he is also the Director of the Morph Lab. He has published more than 140 papers in flagship robotics conferences and journals. He has given leadership to a number of collaborative efforts to push the boundaries of embodied intelligence with more than Euro 8 million external funding. He is the PI of EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded RoboPatient project (EP/T00603X/1, Robot assisted learning of constrained haptic information gain, Euro 1.8 million), where he leads a consortium consisting of ICL, University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. He has been the PI of EPSRC funded Young Investigator Grant (EP/I028773/1, Impedance control in manipulation and locomotion), MOTION (EP/N03211X/1, Morphological Computation of Action and Perception), and EU funded DARWIN project (270138, Dexterous Assembler Robot Working with embodied Intelligence). He was a co-investigator of EU H2020 Four-by-Three (637095, safety in human- robot shared spaces), EPSRC funded REINS (EP/I028765/1, haptic based human-robot interaction), and technical manager of EU FP7 funded STIFF-FLOP (287728, STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learnable Manipulator for surgical OPerations). He is in the executive committee of the UK RAS Strategic Task Group for Soft Robotics, and in the editorial board as an Associate Editor of flagship robotics publications such as IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RAL), RSS, ICRA, IROS, RoboSoft, Frontiers in Soft Robotics, and the Journal of Robotics and Mechatronics. He has worked at leading laboratories for robotics and neuromotor control, including the Laboratory for Computational Motor Control, Johns Hopkins University, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), and Harvard Neuromotor Control Lab.

Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ) is a leading university in natural sciences and engineering. It hosts around 8000 researchers, including 4000 PhD students, and 15000 MSc and BSc students. ETHZ has a long tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, creates over 20 spin-off companies each year and educates 30% of the top management in Switzerland. The Robotic Systems Lab (RSL) (www.rsl.ethz.ch), led by Prof. Marco Hutter, investigates the development of machines and their intelligence to operate in rough and challenging environments. With a significant focus on robots with arms and legs, RSL is active in different national and international research and industrial projects. The group developed a series of quadrupedal robots that belong to the most advanced electrical legged robots in the world. These machines are used in search and rescue scenarios, whereby the robot has to deal with challenging environments. Over the last ten years, Hutter and his team acquired substantial expertise in various research areas connected with legged locomotion. They created state of the art planning and control pipelines for dynamic locomotion using optimization and learning-based methods, or combination thereof. Moreover, they are experts in robot navigation in challenging environments.

Marco Hutter - local PI

Associate Professor for Robotic Systems at ETH Zurich since 2015, founder of ANYbotics AG and Branco Weiss Alumni. He studied mechanical engineering and completed his doctoral degree in robotics at ETH. Marco’s research interests are in the development of novel machines and actuation concepts together with the underlying control, planning, and learning algorithms for locomotion and manipulation. Marco is part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics and NCCR Digital Fabrication and PI in various international projects (e.g. EU Thing) and challenges (e.g. DARPA SubT). His work has been recognized with a number of awards and prestigious grants such as the Branco Weiss Fellowship, ETH medal, IEEE/RAS Early Career Award and ERC Starting Grant.

Kingston University Higher Education Corporation

Kingston University (KU) is situated south of London and counts 5 faculties in 4 separate campuses in and around Kingston upon Thames. Research at KU will be carried out in the Computer Science department of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing (SEC). SEC was formed in 2011 and is comprised of four schools, bringing together interdisciplinary research, improving the scope of the student experience and encouraging partnerships between academia and commerce. The Faculty has over 300 academic staff and over 120 support and professional staff with some 230 research students. The Faculty has established key partnerships with both UK based and international education establishments, including industrial and practice based partnerships. Within the SEC Faculty, the Robot Vision Team (RoViT) will work in NI. RoViT led by Prof. Paolo Remagnino. RoViT is one of the main research groups of the Computer Science department and one of the most successful multidisciplinary teams of the Faculty. Over the last 10 years RoViT has contributed to the success of the Faculty securing research grants financially supported by UK, European and US funding bodies.

Paolo Remagnino - local PI

Full professor in the Department of Computer Science at Kingston University, UK. With thirty years’ experience in Computer Vision research, Professor Remagnino founded the Robot Vision Team (RoViT) 15 years ago. Since its inception, Prof. Remagnino has led the team with a number of junior and senior colleagues, postdoctoral and PhD researchers. RoViT is one of the most successful research teams in the Department of Computer Science at Kingston University. Professor Remagnino leads research in RoViT, primarily on the development of innovative methods for image and video interpretation, making wide use of pattern recognition, machine and deep learning and distributed intelligence techniques. Professor Remagnino has published over 170 scientific articlesin international conferences and high impact journals. Prof. Remagnino research was funded by the Innovate UK, EPSRC, MRC, Leverhulme Trust, EU (FP7 and H2020) and the US DHS. He was a key Faculty contributor in the last three UK research assessment exercises. At present, Prof. Remagnino is the principal investigator of two projects on video analytics for security with fixed and drone mounted cameras. Three strands of research are currently investigated: image and video understanding and machine learning, with particular emphasis on deep learning techniques. Professor Remagnino has been affiliated as visiting researcher with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he carries out research on computational botany, developing intelligent algorithms for the automatic and semi automatic identification and classification of plants.

Technische Universiteit Delft

Delft University of Technology (TUD) is the oldest and largest technical university in the Netherlands, with over 23,000 students and 3,300 scientific staff. Its high quality teaching standards and experimental facilities are renowned, placing it among the 6th top universities in Europe and 15th in the world in the Engineering and Technology fields, and 2nd top universities in Europe and 5th in the world in the Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Manufacturing Engineer (QS Ranking 2020). It is a member of the IDEA League, a strategic alliance of five of Europe's leading universities of technology. TU Delft comprises eight faculties: among these is the 3mE Faculty (Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering), which hosts the Cognitive Robotics (CoR) department. In 2012, TU established the Delft Robotics Institute, in which CoR takes part. The Institute unites all the university's research in the field of robotics, bringing together more than 150 scientific staff from six TU Delft faculties. The aim is to get robots and humans to work together effectively in unstructured environments, and real-world settings. Both the 'hard' robotics disciplines (mechatronics, embedded systems, control and AI) and the 'soft' ones (human-machine interaction, user interaction, architecture, ethics and design) are represented. A part of the Institute is the TU Delft Digital Innovation Hub called RoboValley (https://robovalley.com) established to foster collaboration with companies and technology transfer.

Cosimo della Santina - local PI

Assistant professor (Tenure Tracker) at CoR, TU Delft. He received a PhD in robotics (cum laude, 2019), from University of Pisa, Italy. He was a Visiting PhD student and a post doc (2017 to 2019) of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA. Since 2020, he is affiliated to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) as external research scientist. For the first six months of the same year has also hold a post doc position at the department of Mathematics and Informatics, Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany. Cosimo has been awarded with EuRobotics Georges Giralt Ph.D. Award (2020), and the “Fabrizio Flacco” Young Author Award of the RAS Italian chapter (2019). He has published more than 40 papers on international journals, books, and refereed conferences. Cosimo has (co)authored 1 essay, 18 international journal papers, 3 book chapters, and 21 international conference papers (Google Scholar: 452 citations, h-index 11). His main research interests include (i) Modelling for Control and Model Based Control of Soft Robots, (ii) Combining Machine Learning and Model Based Strategies with application to soft robotics, (iii) Soft Robotic Hands.

Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is Spain’s largest public research institution and ranks third among Europe’s largest research organisations. The CSIC supports research and training across a wide range of knowledge, from the most basic or fundamental aspects of science to the most complex technological developments; from human and social sciences to food science and technology, including biology, biomedicine, physics, chemistry and materials, natural resources and agricultural sciences. The CSIC produces 20% of the national scientific output (over 10 000 publications in high impact international journals in 2017) and remains the first institution in Spain in the generation of patents, with around 200 patent applications in 2017. As of May 2019, the CSIC has obtained 575 projects in H2020, with a total EU financial contribution of 239 million euros and is listed the 1st organisation in Spain and the 4th participant by number of projects (E-CORDA). CSIC is represented in NI by the Cajal Institute. The Cajal Institute is the oldest neuroscience research centre in Spain. Specifically, the Neural Rehabilitation Group (NRG) of Cajal Institute (http://www.neuralrehabilitation.org) combines knowledge from the areas of Neuroscience, Biomechanics, Control, Robotics, Modelling, Machine Learning, to provide technological means to assess, reproduce and restore human and human-like motor functions. The main background of the group is on Wearable Robotic and human-machine interaction, including exoskeletons and neuroprosthesis, with several European and national projects funded in these lines (GAIT, BETTER, REHABOT, HYPER, BIOMOT). A second relevant line is in the area of compliant locomotion. In particular, the group has developed different models of bipedal locomotion, and implemented them into bio-inspired humanoid platforms (with two European Projects, ESBIRRO and H2R, both coordinated by CSIC). Finally, CSIC is currently strongly invest on the field of robotic benchmarking and performance evaluation, with the coordination of the ongoing H2020 EUROBENCH project.

Diego Torricelli - local PI

Head of Neuromuscular Coordination Lab at NRG-CSIC. He received the MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Roma TRE in 2004. His Master’s thesis was developed in Harvard Medical School, Boston, in the Gait Analysis Lab of the Spaulding Rehab Hospital. In 2009 he received the PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Roma TRE, with a thesis focused on bio-inspired interfaces for rehabilitation. In 2008 he co-founded a spin-off company for the development of innovative human-machine interfaces. He is now working in the Neural Rehabilitation Group of the Cajal Institute in the Spanish National Research Council in Spain, focusing on the study of human motor control principles and their application to technology-based neurorehabilitation. He has been Scientific and Technical manager of the H2R European Project and main founder of the Benchmarking Locomotion European community (www.benchmarkinglocomotion.org). He is currently the coordinator of the H2020 EUROBENCH project (aimed at creating the first benchmarking framework for legged machines), and the H2020 FSTP project EXOSAFE project (focused on building a bio-inspired mechatronic human leg replica).

Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e Ricerca Ambientale

ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) is a national public body. It provides the Italian National Reference Centre for the European Environment Agency. ISPRA is the competent government authority for all tasks and scientific activities of national interest for the protection, enhancement and improvement of the environment, water resources, nature conservation, biodiversity and soil. ISPRA provides technical and scientific support to environmental decision makers, particularly to the Ministry for the Environment, Territory and Sea (IMELS), by offering the necessary tools and know-how to address economic and social changes, while safeguarding the environment and following the sustainable development paths agreed within the European Union. ISPRA Provides activities related to the implementation of the “Nature” Directives on the National territory. It was entrusted for the realization of the III and IV report of the Habitat Directive. ISPRA is entrusted also in the preparation of a National Monitoring Program within the Habitat Directive. All research activities are carried out in close cooperation with the national and international scientific community. Following European guidelines criteria, ISPRA elaborated national guidelines for monitoring species and habitats of Community interest in Italy, with the aim to respond in a cost-effective way to the periodical commitments arising from the Directives, in a view of improving data robustness, reliability and increasing the comparability of the results and evaluations. ISPRA works with numerous European and international environmental scientific and technical institutes and organizations, in the implementation of its institutional mandate and in cooperation with the Ministry for the Environment , Land and Sea, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Ministry of Education, University and Research.

Pierangela Angelini - local PI

Currently serves as Area manager of the Map of Nature System within the Department for the Monitoring and Protection of the Environment and for Biodiversity Conservation of ISPRA. She is a conservation biologist with over 20 years of professional experience on habitat management, mapping and surveying. Due to her expert knowledge in the field of biodiversity monitoring and conservation, she has been a member of the “Ad Hoc Group on structure and function Future prospects and Trends” established by the European Commission in 2015. In that position she contributed to the review of the guidelines for the reporting under the Nature Directives of Commission, DG ENV. She coordinates the activities on Habitat monitoring for the III and IV National Reports of the Habitat Directive. She has earned relevant professional experience as researcher, scientist and expert for different projects in Italy’s National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, ISPRA. Her work included support to the Ministry for the Environment, Territory and Sea (IMELS) in questions related to the Habitat Conservation and Management and for the establishment of new Protected Areas. She has published her works in numerous relevant scientific journals, books, conference papers, National Technical Reports, Guidelines and EEA Technical reports on habitats monitoring. She holds an MSc degree in Nature Sciences and a PhD in Environmental Biology from the University La Sapienza in Rome.

qbrobotics s.r.l.

qbrobotics s.r.l. is an Italian SME founded on July 29th, 2011 based in Navacchio – Cascina (Pisa) in the Technological Cluster Complex of Pisa (Polo Tecnologico di Navacchio). qbrobotics was founded by seven equal business partners as a research and development company active in the robotics field, and producers of soft-robotics devices. The company mission is to develop the research in the soft-robotics field and translate it into marketable devices for research, industry and consumers. The company has now three different research business units that are divided considering the peculiarity of the destination market:

1. Biomedical & Prosthetics: qbrobotics is producing an anthropomorphic artificial hand (the SoftHand Pro-H) that is used for prosthetic and rehabilitation activities by research institutes especially in the United States.

2. Robotics&Automation: qbrobotics is a provider of robotic hands (the qb SoftHand) to private companies and robotics laboratories

3. Educational & Research: in this field, qbrobotics provides two products (the modular actuator VSA and a robotic hand – qb SoftHand Research) to research institutes, universities, schools and R&D departments of private and public companies.

Fabio Bonomo - local PI

CEO of the qbrobotics. Fabio Bonomo is an Engineer with a Masters in Computer Science with a specialization in Robotics and Automation. He is an expert in embedded systems, rapid control prototyping, and the design and development of electronics hardware. He has been working in the Research Centre “E. Piaggio” since 2008 participating in EU-funded projects. In qbrobotics he is responsible also of the electronics development of the devices and he manage the supply chain as well.

third parties

Università di Siena

The University of Siena (UNISI), founded in 1240, is rich in history and a great tradition of knowledge, engaged at the same time in research and innovation. It is today one of the Italian universities that presents the maximum innovative results in research, teaching and services. The Research Area Biodiversity, Conservation and Environmental Quality includes the Research Group Plant Diversity and Community Ecology. The general focus of our research is to investigate the communities, at different organization levels and under different perspectives, in order to understand the rules governing their structure, composition, diversity and functioning. The focus of our research is on vascular plants, bryophytes and fungi. The specific topics of our research include: Monitoring plant communities and habitats with particular attention to the methodological soundness in study planning and data analyses; dependence of plant species distribution. community structure and habitat on environmental factors. The main applications of our research include monitoring of natural resources, biomonitoring, biological conservation and management of protected areas and habitats.

Claudia Angiolini - local PI

Assistant Professor at Siena University. She graduated from the University of Siena in 1999 and in 1999-2000 attended a postgraduate course called Master in: "Analysis of vegetation: collection and processing of data on flora, vegetation and soil "(Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Ancona). She was a postdoc scholar at Department of Environmental Biology in 2000–2004. Since 2005 she teaches Systematic Botany and Plant Diversity in the Department of Life Sciences (DSV) of the Università di Siena. 2008-2013 member of the Park Authority of the Foreste Casentinesi National Park and from 2016 member of Scientific Committee of Regional Park of Maremma. She served as referee Reviewer for many Journal including: Journal of Vegetation Science, Applied Vegetation Science, Plant Biosystems, Forests, Biodiversity and Conservation and so on. She’s interested in all aspect regarding the vegetation science and floristic studies, with emphasis on phytosociology, plant communities and habitats ecology, distribution pattern and conservation topics and plant species demography. She participated as scientific reference of Siena University to several national and international conservation and monitoring project of semi-natural habitats including Life projects and, as referent for Siena University, to “HASciTu”, “Monito-Rare” and “NAT-NET” and to “IV Report for Habitats of the Habitat Directive (92/43/EEC) present in Italy” coordinated by Società Italiana di Scienza della vegetazione and ISPRA.

Università degli Studi di Milano

The University of Milan, established in 1924, is a public University. It is the only Italian member among the 23 prestigious Universities of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). With a teaching staff of about 2.200 tenured professors and with almost 60.000 students, the University of Milan is the largest university in Lombardy, one of the most dynamic and internationally oriented EU regions. The University of Milan offers several study programmes covering three macro-disciplinary areas: i) Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, ii) Medicine and Healthcare, iii) Natural Sciences. The broad range of subjects taught, in the running 79 Undergraduate programmes, 57 Master programmes, 9 Single-cycle programmes, 21 Doctoral Schools, and several Advanced Vocational programmes, attracts students from all of Italy and the whole world. In addition to its excellent level of education, the University of Milan has an established reputation as one of the institutions most strongly committed to basic and applied research in Europe. The protection and exploitation of the scientific productivity is a strategic focus of the University of Milan. It has thus developed a policy to facilitate and shorten the time and mode of results transfer from research to market. EU programmes represent a major source of funding for the University of Milan, which has signed 147 grants under the 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013), for a total value of € 50.344.153, and 120 grants up to April 2019 under the Horizon 2020 Programme, for a total value of more than € 30.000.000. One of the main goals of the University of Milan is also the development of activities aimed to knowledge exchange and technology transfer in partnerships with key external organizations.

Marco Caccianiga - local PI

Associate Professor in Systematic Botany at the Department of Biosciences of the University of Milan. He will be primarily responsible for carrying out the proposed research. He obtained his PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Milan and spent a two-years Post-Dc Fellowship at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. Marco Caccianiga's main research interests focus on climate/plant relationships, with particular reference to high altitude and high latitude ecosystems and their response to past and present climate change. The main research topics can be summarized as follows: primary succession triggered by glacier retreat on the European Alps focusing on plant community succession, on plant- arthropod relationships and on plant functional roles; the role of glacial and periglacial landforms as potential refugia for cold-adapted plant and arthropod species; Plant/arthropod relationships in climate-limited ecosystems; biogeography of Alpine plant species; treeline fluctuations in Northern Canada, on Italian Alps and Apennines, outlining the role of species composition and local climate. He also worked for Italian national and regional parks on plant biodiversity monitoring and for the EU on Habitat monitoring. His main skills consist of vegetation sampling (phytosociology, point-quadrat analysis, cartography), floristic sampling, dendrochronology, plant strategies assessment (CSR scheme), plant population analysis, plant macroremains identification in paleobotanical and forensic context. He is member of the Board of Professors of the PhD in Environmental Sciences, University of Milan and director of the Città Studi Botanical Garden of the same University.

Università di Sassari

The University of Sassari (UNISS) is an Italian public university with over 450 years of history. The Desertification Research Centre of the University of Sassari (NRD-UNISS) started its activities in the early ‘90s as a multidisciplinary research group and became an Interdepartmental Centre in 2000 with the specific aim to promote studies and research on desertification, land degradation and sustainable land management. NRD is member of the Global Network of Dryland Research Institutes (GNDRI) and is the operational secretary of DesertNet International (DNI), an international organization of researchers accredited to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). NRD-UNISS promotes activities aiming to the exchange of information and experiences at international level (networking) and the training of young European and non-European researchers. NRD-UNISS involves some 40 professors and researchers from eight departments of the University of Sassari covering a wide range of disciplinary areas such as agronomy, earth science, ecology, economics, environmental science, forestry, hydraulics, hydrology, hygiene, law, livestock science, microbiology, sociology, water governance, zoology. The staff of post docs and PhD students is composed of some 30 units with ground experience in the field and on the design and implementation international research and cooperation for development projects. The most recent publications of NRD-UNISS are reported in the Centre web site (www.uniss.it/nrd).

Simonetta Bagella - local PI

Associate Professor of Botany since 31/03/2017. She is President of the Italian Society of Vegetation Science, Member of the steering committee of the European Pond Conservation Network and of the Specialist Group on the monitoring and assessment of wetland biodiversity- MedWet/STN/SG/Biodiversity, President of the degree Courses in Natural Sciences and Land and Environmental Management-University of Sassari, co-editor of the journal Plant Sociology and Member of the Editorial board of the journal Community Ecology. Her main research descriptors are: Citizen science, biodiversity conservation, cross-taxon analysis, dunal systems, endangered plants, fresh-water habitats, global changes, Habitats Directive and Nature 2000, habitat monitoring, Mediterranean temporary ponds, plant diversity, plant traits, secondary grasslands. She published more than 70 papers on journals indexed in international bibliometric databases and more than 200 contributes on books, journals, scientific reports and conference proceedings. She received 3 awards for scientific productivity 2009, 2013 and 2014 from the Sardinian Region.

Università di Perugia

The University of Perugia (UNIPG), founded in 1308, is one of the oldest public educational and research institutions in Italy. The Department DSA3 carries out both educational and research activities in the fields of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences. A whole branch of its activities focuses on environment and biodiversity in terms of analysis, monitoring and conservation of plant species and habitats, at all levels of complexity, thanks to a robust pool of experts with documented experience in Natura 2000-related issues. The staff of DSA3 is involved in national and international projects focused on biodiversity conservation, developing and coordinating in particular the recent processes of Dir. 92/43/EEC Annex I Habitat monitoring at the national scale. DSA3 is a member of the Regional Observatory on Biodiversity, Landscape and Sustainable Development of the Umbria Region, established with DGR n. 968 of 13.07.2009.

Daniela Gigante - local PI

Assistant Professor of Environmental and Applied Botany at the University of Perugia. She graduated in Natural Sciences (University of Perugia, 1997), attended a Postgraduate Course in "Vegetation Analysis: Survey and Processing of Data on Flora, Vegetation and Soil" (University of Ancona, 2000) and got a PhD in Applied Botany (University of Perugia, 2000). She teaches Vegetation Science in the Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Biology, and Systematic Botany in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (DSA3). Visiting researcher at Vechta University (Germany) in 2003 and 2004. Her main research interests are in biodiversity analysis, monitoring and conservation, with reference to plant species, plant communities and habitats, with a special focus on species and habitats of the Annexes I, II, IV, V to Dir. 92/43/EEC Directive. She published more than 60 papers on journals indexed in international bibliometric databases, and more than 200 contributes on books, journals, scientific reports and conference proceedings. She served as member of the Directive Council of the SISV (formerly SIF) for two mandates (2010-15). Recipient of the National Culture Award established by the Italian Botanical Society (SBI) for the recognition of particular scientific merits, reserved for PhD Theses discussed in the period 1999- 2001 on topics concerning Botany. Since 2020 she is Editor-in-Chief of the international, open access journal Plant Sociology, official organ of the SISV (Italian Society for Vegetation Science) indexed in the Scopus DB. Member of the Steering Board of the National Database of the Italian V egetation "V egItaly" (http://www.vegitaly.it/), containing to date more than 36K phytosociological surveys, promoted by the SISV. Consultant for Italy, appointed by the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea (MATTM), for the Action 7 of the "Action plan for nature, people and the economy (COM/2017/0198 final)", for the Habitat 6210(*) "Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (*wonderful orchid bloom)". Scientific Expert for Flora-Vegetation-Habitat in the development of 30 Management Plans and maps of Annex I Habitats in Natura 2000 Sites in Central Italy. Member of the Scientific Board and co-author of the volume "The Vegetation of Italy", with a Map scale 1:500,000 (Blasi C. Ed. 2010). Co-author of the "Italian Interpretation Manual of Habitats of the Dir. 92/43/EEC", official diagnostic tool for habitat identification, appointed by MATTM (http://vnr.unipg.it/habitat).