Marilu PicturePersonal Data. Born in Reggio Calabria (9/9/1968). I share a lifetime love with Massimiliano Labardi and live the wonder of my daughter Anna.

Studies. Diploma in Physics (University of Pisa, Italy, 110/110 cum laude) and PhD in Physics (Scuola Normale Superiore-SNS, Pisa, Italy, 70/70 cum laude).

Languages. Verbal: English and French. Computational: F77-OS Linux-based. Musical.


  • PhD in Condensed Matter Physics (SNS, 1993-1996)
  • Postdoc (INFM, 1996-1998)
  • Senior Researcher at the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS, 1998-2002)
  • Junior Researcher on Space tests for general relativity (University of Pisa, 2002-2004)
  • Senior Researcher at the Scuola Normale Superiore (2004-2008)
  • Currently Associate Professor (University of Pisa, 2007-) at Physics Department “Enrico Fermi”, having the National habilitation as full professor (2012).
  • I served as Deputy Mayor of Pisa Municipality for school and educational policies, promotion of digital technologies, science education, equal opportunities, legacy, anticorruption (2008-2018).
  • At the University of Pisa I contribute to CISP-Interdisciplinary Center of Sciences for Peace, also contributing to the editorial team of the CISP magazine, to CAFRE-Center for Training and Education Research, and to the RRI-Research and Responsible Innovation group, and as part of the Physics Department executive board.
  • I have been visiting and visiting fellow in a number of international institutions. Since 1995, so many times at JILA and University of Colorado at Boulder.

Teaching activity

    • Two Elementary Physics courses at the Pharmacy Department (BS and MS), where I’m also involved in orientational and pre-testing activities
    • Quantum Liquids for PhD and (MD) undergraduate in Physics
    • Current Trends in Quantum Matter for PhD and (MD) undergraduate in Physics
    • General physics 2-Electromagnetism at the BSD in Physics
    • Physics of everyday life (to teach to teach physics) at the BSD in Physics
    • Previous experiences. While attending the PhD course, I collaborated to teaching activities within the General Physics courses held by Carlo Angelini at the Engineering Department and within the Statistical Mechanics course held by Giuseppe La Rocca at SNS

I have been supervising or co-supervising a number of MD and PhD students.

Experimentations. I contributed to the avant-gard course in Mathematics created by Giovanni Prodi, collaborating with Franco Conti, Paolo Farinella, and Luigi Picasso. Committed to research and development of methodologies foe physics education, I imported – unique in Italy – and adapted the course La Fisica di Tutti i Giorni (The Physics of Everyday Life), borrowed from How Things Work by Lou Bloomfield (University of Virginia), devoted to students of both humanities and science. I early introduced in Italy the use of digital techs as Interactive Panels and Clickers, to support analogic innovation in conceptual, procedural and factual develpoment of knowledge in physics courses.

Research activity

Research keywords. Quantum matter and technologies for condensed-matter physics, fundamental physics, and biological systems. Physics Education Reserach and Physics Outreach Research. Quantum gases, fermionic and bosonic superfluidity. Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory for superfluids. High-Tc Superconductivity.

Physics education research

More recently, I have undertaken intense activity in physics education research, especially for elementary and quantum physics.

I lead the University of Pisa team in th EU project Digitally Enhanced Quantum Technology Master (DIGIQ), the consortium of 24 Organisations from 10 countries aimed at spearhead a transformation of the educational ecosystem by introducing both a series of didactical innovations as well as a multinational program structure ready to be scaled up to the rest of the European Higher Education Area. 

I attended the course Teaching to teach, offered by UNIPI to professors, to improve their teaching skills and tools, and I have been selected among the 20 UNIPI professors contributing to  the project aimed at building a UNIPI Community of mentors (PCM), which I’m one of the representatives of, in the PCM board.   

I’m in charge of the activities for teachers training for the UNIPI Physics Department. I collaborate with Marisa Michelini (University of Udine and IUPAP medal for Physics Education Research) on quantum physics education, contribute to the G6 group on teachers training of the Piano Lauree Scientifiche, and coordinate the international GIREP thematic group on Games with the Purpose of Physics Education.

I’m part of the Scientific Advisory Board of Imparadigitale, chaired by Dianora Bardi, and in this context I organize the panel on educating to scientific thinking within the Stati Generali della Scuola Digitale happening every year in November in Bergamo with the support of the Ministry of school and education and of the UN: this is a think-tank on school teaching/learning innovation attended by thousands of teachers and principals, and reaching out almost 45000 school experts and school-investing companies.

I collaborate with the Italian Rete delle Scuole Senza Zaino, in particular with the dedicated magazine, conducting kindergarten-teachers training on elementary physics, and a research experimentation to bring quantum physics to kids.

I have been appointed for teachers training activities by Zanichelli Scuola on physics paths for active citizenship, and by Treccani Futura with an introductory course module on quantum physics. I author Street Physics Toolbox, 60 video-pills from Galileo’s physics to electromagnetism, realized within the Special projects for didactic innovation funded by UNIPI, now available also with subtitles in English and French.

More recently, I co-authored an article with Howard Gardner and with the former Reggio Children chair Claudia Giudici, about scientific thinking and the latest Gardner’s idea of synthesizing mind, and with Marisa Michelini a review of her lifetime as a physics-education researcher.

Research in quantum matter physics and technologies

The research activity stems from my background in condensed-matter physics to involve diverse aspects and applications of quantum science in a strongly characterized interdisciplinary and intersectorality approach, with a high degree of internationalization, and a constant search for innovations in methods of both research and of research dissemination, devoting special attention and care to act and promote a women’s way in science.


–Close to condensed-matter physics, I carried out research in high-temperature superconductivity, bosonic and fermionic superfluidity of confined ultracold atoms. My current research activity is focused on conceiving, by theoretical and quantum simulation methods, of quantum technologies and analogue quantum simulators for condensed matter, metrological and fundamental physics applications. In collaboration with Sabrina Maniscalco (Professor of quantum information and logic, University of Helsinki, and CEO of Algorithmiq) I coordinated the European Horizon2020 proposal design and submission IQHuMinds – Integrating Quantum Machines and Minds for quantum technologies, to solve or optimize quantum problems within a citizen-science approach, through the development of quantum videogames allowing to channel the creativity and intuition of players in the training of classical or quantum computers to perform optimal solutions.  

–In connection with the neurosciences, I collaborate with the neuroscientist of the University of Pisa Concetta Morrone, and coordinate a research program aimed at developing quantum models and simulations to describe perceptual phenomena in visual neurosciences, that are found to be otherwise harder to address by classical means.

–Towards quantum biology, I coordinate the PON-funded research program aimed at developing quantum-computing and algorithms based methods to design molecules with biological interest, with a focus on fertilizers. In fact, she contributes to the PNRR-funded ICSC-Center, Spoke 10 on quantum computing.

–In intertwined connection with cosmology and fundamental physics, earlier research has been devoted to testing the equivalence principle between inertial and gravitational masses with macroscopic bodies, within Anna Nobili’s group. Currently, she contributes to the internal review activities of the VIRGO-LIGO collaboration and the activities of ET and EuCAPT, coordinates the Pisa INFN unit of OLAGS (Optical Links for Atomic Gravity Sensors), conducts her research within the network AEDGE (Atomic Experiments for Dark Matter and Gravity Exploration in space), whose white paper has been selected by the European Space Agency, and is part of the core Team of class M7 mission STE-QUEST (Space-Time Explorer and QUantum Equivalence Principle Space Test) that has passed the first round and has been submitted  to ESA as a phase 2 proposal. She coordinates the follow-on of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics on Black holes as open quantum systems, and conducts research on analogue gravity models for black holes in collaboration with Massimo Mannarelli, Dario Grasso, and Stefano Liberati.

Physics outreach research and Physics outreach

I lead the research-based outreach projects WQuBit, funded by the Tuscany regional government and co-funded on her UNIPI BIHO funds with a research-grant position, aimed at designing a quantum videogame (a game working with quantum playgame mechanics) with the triple  purposes of promoting cultural and scientific Tuscany heritage, educating in playful manner to quantum physics, and contributing to solve fruition problems of the cultural heritage via a citizen-science approach.

Within the Quantum Flagship, I co-coordinated the pilot Quantum Technologies Education for Everyone (QTE4E) of the Quantum Technology Education coordination and support action initiative (QTEdu) of the Quantum Flagship, introducing for the first time the concept of research-based outreach (Physics Outreach Research, POR) and the culture-scientific storytelling approach (see for example      

I direct the Discover section of the platform QPlayLearn ( created by Sabrina Maniscalco and aimed at quantum science and technologies education. For QPlayLearn, I co-created the quantum pills, 5-minutes animations on basic quantum physics concepts, organized the first two Italian editions of the Quantum Game Jams within Internet Festival (2020 opening , 2020 closure 2021 opening and, with Sabrina Maniscalco. With Sabrina, I led the project Quantum Jungle funded by Fondazione di Pisa and Palazzo Blu, a 6 sqm installation bridging arts and science to visualize the time evolution of a quantum state, exploited for numerous educational activities on Quantum physics aimed at kindergarten-to-high school students and to general public.

International visiting and collaborations

IRC Cambridge, TU-Eindhoven, Institut Poincaré (Paris), Strathclyde (UK) ICTP, ECT and CRS-BEC (Trento), Los Alamos National Labs, Aspen Center for Physics, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Helsinki University, and especially at JILA (Colorado, USA), that she has been visiting almost every year since 1995.

Projects as PI

  • WP4250 funded by Italian Space Agency ASI, within WP4000 on Fundamental Physics in Space (2002-2004)
  • INFN-Pisa Unit MAGIA-Advanced funded by INFN- Commission 2, aimed to build up a large-momentum transfer atomic interferometer for gravitational waves detection (2015-2018)
  • MIT-UniPi Project in collaboration with Vladan Vuletic, Generation of spin-squeezed states for fundamental physics tests by atom interferometry (2015-2017)
  • MIT-UniPi Project in collaboration with Vladan Vuletic, to explore Quantum effects in the Aubry transition of ionic chains (2019-2023)
  • IQHuMinds – Integrating Human and Machine Minds for Quantum Technologies – RISE proposal, funded through BIHO (2020)
  • PON New quantum-inspired models and algorithms to enhance bio-based systems and catalytic processes with application to future sustainable agriculture technologies (2022-2025)
  • INFN-Pi unit of OLAGS (Optical Links for Atomic Gravity Sensors) INFN CNS5 (2021-2023).
  • QUTE4E – Quantum Technology Education for Everyone  (2021-2022)
  • DIGIQ – Digitally Enhanced Quantum Technology Master  (2022)
  • Thematic Group “Games with the purpose (GWAP) of Physics Education and Physics Education research at GIREP (International Group for Research Education in Physics) (2021-)
  • The Quantum Bit Woman, funded by Tuscany Region to develop a quantum videogame for educational, cultural, and problem-solving purposes (2022-2023)

Earlier than 2002, I led two projects funded by CINECA for computational resources use and two funded by SNS.

Publications (main facts)

Books: M L Chiofalo, “Screening effects in bipolaron theory and high-temperature superconductivity” (SNS, 1997) e G Iadonisi, G Cantele and M L Chiofalo “Elements of Solid State Physics and Crystalline Nanostructures” (Springer, 2014).

Editing: “Models and Phenomenology for Conventional and High-Tc Superconductivity”, Ed. by G Iadonisi, R J Schrieffer and M L Chiofalo (IOS Press, 1998; RJ Schrieffer è premio Nobel per la Fisica).

Articles: more than  130 publications in journals and books on research and physics-education research topics, peer-reviewed, also with large impact factor, resulting in more than 4.3 k-citations, topics for invited seminars at conferences and research institutions.
My most cited condensed-matter physics work in collaboration with Murray Holland (JILA) has predicted the realization of  superfluidity of ultracold fermionic atoms, afterwards observed at JILA in the group of Debbie Jin.


The interdisciplinary character of my research is also reflected in the series of conferences Quantum Gases, Fundamental interactions and Cosmology (QFC) that I have created with Andrea Ferrara (SNS), with a unconventional format aimed at building an international community interested to same challenging open problems in fundamental science and coming from diverse disciplinary perspectives. The conference morning activities work as if the attendants were involved in a research group. She chairs QFC since 2017, involving a widely interdisciplinary local organizing committee and international scientific advisory board, started among the others with the Nobel laureate Eric Cornell (JILA and University of Colorado at Boulder), and every two years enriched with the keynote speakers of previous edition  (

I contributed as organizer of a number of other diverse conferences, most often privileging and contributing to the design of unconventional formats (unconferences, game jams, hackatons,…). 

Peer-review activity

I peer-review for Physical Review Letters and Physical Review (A, B, E, X), Nature, New Journal of Physics, European Phys. Journal, Europhysics Letters, Universe, Photonics. I serve in the editorial board of the latter.

I have been serving as referee for VQR, ERC starting grant, and for recruitment activities of prestigious USA and European scientific institutions (Stanford, Harvard, Sorbonne). 

In 2022 I have been appointed by the Swiss National Science Foundation as panelist for the evaluation of the SNSF advanced proposals. 

Since 2022, I am Associate Editor of Basic Science for Quantum Technologies.


I author radio/video and other types of formats for science outreach. 

In particular, I co-author edwith Sara Maggi, editor and speaker of the 4-minutes radio-broadcast programme  Piacere, Scienza!” (“Hallo, Science!”) and of the special series “Perché Nobel?” “Nobel,why?”, “Nobel Donna” (“Nobel Women”) and “Galileo”. Episodes archive (downloadable from iTunesU too) o-created and conducted with Sara Maggi the 5-minutes radio-broadcast program Hallo, Science! with the special series Nobel, why? Nobel Women, and Galileo (36 episodes). With Sara I also co-authored the video “Io vado a Idrogeno” and of the video format “La Fisica al Bar” (“Physics at the Pub”). With Sabrina Maniscalco and Caterina Foti, and in collaboration with Mathias Guerra and Marcos Valdes from VIS, I co-authored the format of the Quantum pills for QPlayLearn.

I conceived and directed the music and science festival Musical…mente (Sangemini, 2008), the conversation-show The physics of Harry Potter for muggles and, with the cartoonist Giovanni Timpano (cartoonist of Batman for Marvel USA), the format Physics meets cartoons.

I co-designed with Steve Shore the two spectacular popularization events Galileo under the Leaning Tower: the experiment that Galileo never performed (and why) making water bottles and physics books falling from the Leaning tower, and First View of the Universe, selected by ESA-NASA for the campaign popularizing the first far Cosmo images released by the JWTelescope, with the images projection on the sacred walls of the Monumental Cemetery.

I collaborate or have been collaborating with major National newspapers (Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, Sole24Ore) and magazines writing about culture, science, and society topics, and  with the radio-broadcast program Il Terzo Anello Scienza (RAI-Radio 3).

In the last decade I have almost yearly contributed to ERN Bright! – the European Researchers Night and to the initiative Pianeta Galileo of the Tuscany Region, bridging academia and high-schools. I contributed to 2023 Pint of Science in Pisa with “Harry, the portkey!”

I am part of the Jury of the Cosmos award for popular science ( and member of the organization committee of the intertwined Science Festival, chaired by Gianfranco Bertone (GRAPPA, NL).

I contributed to the Orientational Course organized by SNS for high-school students (Cortona, 1993-1996) and published numerous papers on popular magazines.


Award for junior scientists of the Italian Physical Society (1997). Selected as a leading scientist by the project 100Experts. Award Culture of Solidarity (Pistoia, 2014) and Women award (Pavia, 2016). Outstanding Referee for the Physical Review Journals (2023).

Political and Institutional activity

In a parallel and intertwined lifetime, she is active in politics and associations, especially and above all women movements, to start with, as well as science and legacy associations. Actually, I founded my first association when six yo., devoted to flora and fauna protection.

Women associations. She has been co-founder in Pisa of Movimento Allattamento Materno Italiano (Italian association form of the ONU-World Alliance for Breastfeeding Actions). She contributes to the Women and Science Association, the network 500WomenScientists for which she was invited to feature one T.W.I.S.T interview aimed at inspiring young women scientists ( She is member of the 24Marzo onlus promoted by the Abuelas and Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

Associations — Citizen and Science-active. She has been elected in the Board of the Scuola Normale Alumni Association, the Guarantor Committee of the National Association Italian Partisans (ANPI), is part of the Scientific council of the Italian Union of Scientists for Disarmament (USPID). She is among the Founders of the Italian Democratic Party, and used to serve in its board bodies.

Political and institutional activities. I have been elected President of the Equal Opportunities Council (2003-2008) and appointed for ten years (2008-2013, 2013-2018) as Deputy mayor of the Pisa Municipality for educational policies, science education and realization of the scientific hub Cittadella Galileiana, equal opportunities policies, Legacy, and anti-corruption planning.

In these functions, besides the fore-front conduction of the competent policies involving more than the 20% of the Municipality budget, and in collaboration with technically competent institutional partners- external to the Municipality, I have designed and realized tools to plan, address, and assess the impact of the policies. Examples are the tools to address the integrated action plans for childhood policies, for the contrast of domestic violence on women, and for anti-corruption actions, and the gender budgeting and, first in Italy, the tool for the ex-ante impact evaluation of the addressed gender policies and that for the control of the ethical code of conduct.     

Yet in the above functions, I chaired the educational policies of the six Municipalities composing the Pisa area, and represented the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) in the Observatory for Childhood and Adolescence and the Prime-ministry board against gender violence (Ministry appointments), and in the Tuscany Observatory against gambling.

I’m currently serving in the administrative board of the Tuscany Regional Orchestra (ORT).   

Personal interests

Considering my personal experiences as a professor, re-searcher, scientist, outreaching person, politic and active citizen, one can say that the art of transforming the world is the center of my life. My science-life and my life-life are intertwined together with bits that I learned from a number of exceptional persons I had the privilege of meeting in a lifetime. 

I play almost a number of different sports.  In fact, I have learned from volleyball how to score points in team with three touches (one always mine as setter), from table-tennis to never leave the ball hitting the ground, from basketball how to score 3 points with a long shot, from soccer how to score with bicycle kicks, and from bicycle to crash when necessary.

I play tenor sax in the Orchestra of the University of Pisa, in the Pisa Philarmonic Ensemble, and in the Clown Doctors Big Band because I like hearing with others how the ensemble music takes shape in a collective effort, and because even from everyone’s imperfections (one of which is always mine), with eyes glued to the conductor, a symphony can flow and makes one dancing even while playing (and to hair-dress with tuppo and chalky sweatshirt at the rehearsals, while in long black dress and 12 red heels at the concert night).

I’m an omnivorous reader, though I privilege fantasy, science fiction and comics to live epic adventures, and a videogame player to advance to the next frame. In fact, everything in free time just like in her profession.

I attend the Labodif lab and training on the value of difference with Gianna Mazzini and Giovanna Galletti. We recently brought together Labodif and science in the event L’intelligenza nascosta. La scuola, le parole, le STEAM, la differenza at the 2022 Stati Generali della Scuola Digitale (the text also published by Sole24Ore).

TWIST (Top Women In Science and Technology) Interview for 500 Women Scientists – Pisa Pod

Extended CV (updated 2022)

My real-life CV

Università di Pisa
Lungarno Pacinotti 43, 56126 Pisa
P.I. 00286820501
C.F. 80003670504

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