Personal profile

Research profile

I have more than 15 years of experience in Fermentation technologies and Eco-Engineering of microbial consortia for the conversion of waste streams into biofuels, green chemicals and biopolymers, following a Biorefinery concept.My overall research interest is within the development of Defined Mixed Consortia and Process Optimization.  Moreover, I have a strong focus on the biodegradation of recalcitrant compounds such as pesticides and plastics.




01/08/2017 -                 Associate Professor of Fermentation Technology at the Section for Sustainable Biotechnology, Aalborg University of Copenhagen (AAU-Cph).

06/2015-10/2017        Post-doc in Fermentation Biotechnology at the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department, Center for Bioprocess Engineering, DTU.

01/2014-06/2015        Post-doc in Fermentation Biotechnology at the Section for Sustainable Biotechnology, Aalborg University of Copenhagen.

08/2013-07/2014        Sapienza University Research Fellowship: “Experimental assessment of a bioelectrochemical process for nitrogen removal from anaerobic digestion residues and agro-zootechnical sluges”. Lab of Technology and Applied Chemistry for Environment protection. Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environment. Rome

02-06/2013                 Temporary employment at InBio Consortium for Innovation and Bioeconomy (ENEA Spin Off Incubator)

08/2012-01/2013        ENEA External Collaborator for the preparation of EU project proposals and bilateral agreements

06/2010 – 07/2012     ENEA Research Fellowship for the ItalianNational Project “MAREA”: Realization of a two-stage pilot-scale prototype for the production of hydrogen and methane from agricultural wastes

04/2009-04/2011        Visiting Researcher at the Harbin Institute of Technology, for the EU Science and Technology Fellowship Programme China (STF), supported by the FP7, including 6 months language and intercultural training organized by the EU Delegation to China.

10/2006 – 06/2010     ENEA Research Fellowship: “Biogeochemical methods and characterization of organic matter”. National Project: “Innovative systems for hydrogen production

08-09/2006                 Research Internship at ENEA (lab of Environm. Biotech) for the FISR ItalianNational Project: “Innovative systems for hydrogen production

05– 07/2006                Temporary employment at Ylichron (ENEA Spin-Off Company): research project “Multivariate Data Analysis on DGGE profiles of marine sediment samples

05/2004 – 05/2006      ENEA post-graduate Research Scholarship: “Methods for the classification of the chemical and ecological quality state of waters; Subproject: "The use of sediments for assessing transition water quality: correlation between physical, chemical and biological tests"



06/2013                       Best ProjectAward at the Sahyog Summerschool (FP7 project) “for the best Biomass-to-bioenergy/bioproducts project proposal”. 9-16 June 2013, Bioresource Technology Unit of the National Technical University of Athens.

06/2012                       Young researcher Award at the 20th EU Biomass Conference 2012, in recognition of the “high level of achievement and contribution to his field of research”. 

06/2010                       Awarded with the “Distinguished International Students Scholarship” by the China Scholarship Council of the Ministry of Education of P. R. China (MOE).

12/2008                      Awarded with the EU STF Individual Fellowship (FP7: 127024/L/ACT/CN, STF/40); 2009-2011.


Patents                      Crude glycerol fermenting process for the production of ethanol and hydrogen; Inventor: Cristiano Varrone. Patent application number: RM2011A000480; Applying data: 13/09/2011. IPC INV.C12P1/04,C12P3/00, C12P7/08 C12P7/14,C12N1/00,C12N1/36. Link:; (ENEA Patent Nr. 735). International application no. PCT/IT 2012/000281, date 12/09/2012, published the 21/03/2013 (WO2013/038435).



Coordinator of the H2020 BIOTECH09 project UPLIFT (953073) for the development of Plastic Biorefineries and the bio-upcycling of plastic waste (2021-2025); managing 15 partners from 10 countries (budget: 7.6 mio €).

-  WP leader and member of Steering Committee and Management Board for the Erasmus+ project ITACA (WP on bioremediation)

- Appointed HSE Responsible for lab safety and risk assessments

- Project leader of an EUopSTART Grant by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science for the project proposal "Process intensification and upscale of combined hydrogen and ethanol production from biodiesel-derived glycerol".

- Co-coordinator and Quality Assurance Committee member of a large European FP7 Cooperation KBBE 2013 GRAIL project with 15 partners on glycerol biorefineries ( (budget: 6.5 Mio €): GRAIL - Glycerol bioRefiney Approach for the production of high quality products of Industrial value”.

- PI of the China-Italy bilateral agreement 2013-2015  (Staff Exchange), for the project: Optimized bioconversion of crude glycerol into hydrogen and ethanol using Geo-Chip and coupling with MEC.

- PI of the FP7-funded INdividual Fellowship on “Linking hydrogen and biodiesel production: anaerobic fermentation of glycerol”. (Cont. No. EuropeAid/127024/L/ACT/CN, STF/40).

- Member of the Advisory Board of Ce.R.T.A, the Italian Regional Centres for Agri-Technology (, for the promotion of new business activities of high scientific and technological content in South Italy.

- Responsible of the FP7-funded EuropAid project on “Linking hydrogen and biodiesel production: anaerobic fermentation of glycerol”. (Cont. No. EuropeAid/127024/L/ACT/CN, STF/40).



- Organizer of the AAU International PhD Summer school on Plastic Biorefineries and Bioupcling (1 week activity with 16 Lectures and 4 hands-on workshops), August 2022.

- Promotor of the cross-Faculty AAU Circular Plastics initiative (2022-2023):

- Invited Delegate to the World Plastic Summit for the launch of the World Plastic Association Monaco, under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco (2022-2023).

- Member of the EU stakeholder panel of the H2020 Agro2Circular project.

-  EU Expert Evaluator of Horizon 2020 Marie Curie proposals

- International evaluation panel member for the Volkswagen Stiftung program: Circularity with recycled and biogenic resources (April-June 2023) (funding of 12 million EUR for 10 projects)

- Grant reviewer for the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund - BARD

- External examiner for assistant professors positions at Roskilde University and Associate professor at Aarhus university

- Appointed Health and Safety Environment (HSE) responsible for the section of sustainable biotechnology

- Executive Research Director of NESSE: Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists & Engineers.

- Editorial Board Member of journals Energies (IF = 3.1), Fermentation (IF=5.1) and Polymers (IF=4,9) and Frontiers in Microbiology (IF = 6.1).




  • UPLIFT – Sustainable plastics for the food and drink packaging industry (H2020, project nr. 953073)
  • ITACA – innovative training center to support a 3rd cycle advanced education course to face environmental emergency in Azerbaijan -  Erasmus+  (609758-epp-1-2019-1-it-eppka2-cbhe-jp) 
  • AQUACOWI – Wastewater organic waste treatment facilities: net green energy, nutrients and bioproducts producers  (COWI Fonden: Pro-ject No: A089475); 2018-2020.
  • DISRUPT- Coupling plastic-DepolymerISation and polyols feRmentation for the prodUction of bio-based Polymers and bioplasTics - EUopSTART Grant (2019).
  • GRAIL – Glycerol bioRefiney Approach for the production of high quality products of Industrial value – EU FP7 funded Cooperation KBBE 2013-2017 (No 613667)
  • ENAMA project – Experimental assessment of a bioelectrochemical process for nitrogen removal from AD residues and sluges - Italian National Agency for Agricultural Mechanization (2013-2014).
  • China-Italy bilateral agreement 2013-2015 – Optimized bioconversion of crude glycerol into hydrogen and ethanol using Geo-Chip and coupling with MEC – Financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (project code CN13MO8)
  • STF China – Linking hydrogen and biodiesel production: anaerobic fermentation of glycerol– EU FP7-funded EuropAid project ( Cont. No. EuropeAid/127024/L/ACT/CN, STF/40); 2009-2011.
  • METISOL – Bioproduction of hythane (H2 and CHmixture) for motor vehicles supply – funded by the Italian Ministry of Environment
  • MAREA  –  Valorization of livestock manure, realization of a two-stage pilot scale prototype for the production of hydrogen coupled with methane – project funded by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture
  • ADP – Enhanced biogas production from organic waste and substrate degradation by optimization of hydrogen production phase –Program Agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and ENEA
  • IDROBIO – Innovative systems for hydrogen production from organic sources – Integrated Special Fund for Research FISR (2006-2009).
  • APAT project– Methods for the classification of the chemical and ecological quality state of waters for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive 2060; Subproject: "The use of sediments for assessing water quality" – Italian Ministry of Environment (2004-2006).



1) Fermentation Technologies
2) Eco-engineering of Mixed Microbial Cultures
3) Glycerol Biorefinery
4) Second Generation Biofuels and Green Chemicals
5) Statistical optimization of process parameters
6) Biodegradation of plastics and pesticides

PhD Supervision

- Supervision of Passanun Lomwongsopon's PhD, in the frame of the H2020 UPLIFT project on Bioupcycling of Plastics from food and drinks packaging (Agreement nr. 953073).

Description: Passanun is developing Defined Microbial Mixed Consortia for the degradation of polyolefins and looking into the underlying mechanisms and metabolic pathways involved.


- Supervision of Clara Fernando Foncillas' PhD, in the frame of the project “Wastewater and Organic Waste Treatment Facilities – Net Green Energy, Nutrients and Bioproducts Producers” (Project No: A089475)

Description: Clara investigated the valorization of sewage sludge and other organic wastes by co-digestion. The project was funded by AquaCowi in Norway, and included the use of different sludge types for methanogenesis and carboxylates.
Clara focused mainly on the co-digestion of sewage sludge with the organic fraction of municipal solid waste to produce VFAs and caproic/heptanoic acid through chain elongation, both in batch and continuous.
In her stay abroad she worked with Adrie Straathoff from TU Delft for the downstream processing, using anion exchange chromatography.

Administrative profile

Member of the Faculty PhD School committee (2022- 2024)

Member of the Department Collaboration committee (2020-2022)

Research profile

I am interested in the development of biorefineries and valorization of waste streams into higher-value products, through the optimization of microbial conversion processes. Main focus is on the bioupcycling of waste streams into bio-building blocks, green chemicals, biofuels and biopolymers, as well as the biodegradation of recalcitrant compounds such as pesticides and plastics. My research interest lies in the development of robust bioprocesses and Defined Mixed Cultures for practical (environmental/industrial) applications. Particular attention is dedicated to the development of cross-disciplinary coupled processes (i.e. chemo-enzymatic, chemical-biochemical, etc.) for improved viability and circularity of the bio-based sector.

Education/Academic qualification

Environmental Engineering and Sciences, PhD, Harbin Institute of Technology

Sept 201019 Jan 2015

Award Date: 28 Apr 2015

Natural Sciences, Master of Sciences, University of Rome La Sapienza


Award Date: 2 Oct 2003


  • Chemistry and Bioscience
  • Fermentation technology
  • Biorefinery
  • Plastic biodegradation
  • Plastic Biorefinery
  • Bioremediation
  • Green Chemicals
  • Biofuels
  • Waste valorization
  • Bioprocess technology


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