Caterina Selva


I was born in Milan, where I spent my formative years immersed in its vibrant culture. Growing up, inspired by the marvellous wilderness I witnessed during my hiking summers in the Italian Alps, I decided to pursue a scientific education, eager to learn more about the secrets of the natural world. At the Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, I studied passionately to obtain a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and a Master’s in Molecular Biology, both completed with the highest marks summa cum laude. The University years were exciting, to say the least, and it is where I met my life companion and husband, Matteo.  After completing my Master’s, driven by the desire to continue learning and to make meaningful contributions to society through my scientific endeavours, I started to look for PhD opportunities abroad.

After winning a PhD scholarship at the University of Adelaide, Matteo and I landed in Adelaide in 2016 armed with little more than backpacks and eager for adventure. Little did we expect to find such a welcoming, rich, dynamic, and multicultural community! The years of my PhD in Plant Genetics were full of joy, an opportunity to meet some truly amazing people, and make connections I still cherish today. Currently, I work as a researcher at Flinders University, studying the cell wall biology of a pathogenic fungus with the aim of developing diagnostic markers and identify novel targets for disease control.

Serendipity led me to serve as the Secretary of ARIA, the Association for Italian Researchers in Australasia in 2021-2022, and to discover the unity, strength, and flair of the Italian community in Adelaide. Together, we organized events showcasing the amazing work of Italo-Australian researchers and promoting Italian culture to the greater community. It was a marvellous experience that made me feel closer to home and appreciate what our Bel Paese has to offer.

Being a migrant has profoundly shaped my life in more ways than one. It has been challenging, and at times, I’ve felt at a loss, but it also comes with great rewards and resilience. I’m grateful for my Italian heritage, hoping to pass on the richness of the Italian culture to my beautiful daughter Viola and to future generations. Empowered by the support I’ve received along the way, both academically as a young researcher in STEM and personally, I am deeply honoured to have received the Progetto Donna in STEM award in 2023.

Caterina Selva
February 2024