Gianalberto Losapio, Lab Head

Ecologist, botanist, naturalist, and environmental educator.

Environmental scientist with a PhD in Ecology from the University of Zurich, previously postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), currently Principal Investigator of the Biodiversity Change group at University of Lausanne and Assistant Professor of Botany at University of Milan.

I study biodiversity, ecological networks, and ecosystem functioning, paying particular attention to the causes and consequences of biodiversity change. My research focuses on species and human–environment interactions as well as on responses of communities to global change.

I participated in and directed several international research projects, taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in different countries as well as mentored and supervised students from different cultural backgrounds.

Associate editor of 'Plant Ecology & Diversity' and 'Journal of Plant Ecology', member of 'Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution' editorial board.

Pursues science education, public outreach and community activism for proactively facilitating all people and diversities in science, increasing social equality and improving environmental justice.

Education and professional positions

01/2022 - present Tenure-track Assistant Professor of Botany, Department of Biosciences, University of Milan

11/2021 - present Head of Biodiversity Change group, Swiss NSF Ambizione Fellow, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne

03/2020                          Visiting PI. Agua Salud project, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

01/2020 - 08/2021       Postdoctoral researcher, Swiss NSF Fellow. Dirzo Lab, Stanford University

02/2018 - 05/2018       Swiss NSF Visiting scientist. Biogeography and Ecology Lab, University of the Aegean

10/2017 - 12/2019       Postdoctoral researcher. Biocommunication and Ecology group, ETH Zurich

05/2016 - 06/2016       Visiting researcher. Group of Biodiversity and Conservation, University Rey Juan Carlos

10/2014 - 09/2017       Ph.D. Ecology. University of Zurich. Advisors: Christian Schöb, Bernhard Schmid, Jordi Bascompte

06/2014 - 09/2014      Botanist. Biodiversity Monitoring program. Stelvio National Park

01/2012 - 04/2014      M.Sc. Natural Sciences. University of Milan. Advisor: Marco Caccianiga

09/2010 - 07/2011       European Mobility Fellow, EU FP7 Erasmus programme, University of Salamanca

10/2008 - 12/2011       B.Sc. Natural Sciences. University of Milan. Advisor: Marco Caccianiga

Nora Khelidj, PhD student

After a Bachelor in Biology, I obtained an interdisciplinary Master in Behaviour, Evolution, and Conservation with a minor in Geoscience, Ecology, and Environment at the University of Lausanne.

I am passionate about ecological research; how species are interconnected between them and with their environment. I am sensitive to the impact that we have on those connections and its repercussion on the planet and for future. I try to integrate those aspect into my research. I previously studied the effect of human mediated land-cover on ants community structure as my master thesis. In addition to my studies, I am also the co-creator of a student collective on climate crisis at UNIL.

For my PhD studies, I’ll study the effect of glacier retreat on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. I’ll try to understand relationships between alpine species and how they are modified by melting glaciers around. To that end, I'll do multidisciplinary research in mountain ecosystems by integrating global warming, biodiversity change, and molecular ecology. I find the mountain environment fascinating and enjoy spending time in the Alps. Having the opportunity to solve some mysteries around the alpine environment is truly exciting. 

Education and research activities

01/2022 - present         PhD student in Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Geoscience and Environment, University of Lausanne

08/2020 - 07/2021 Research Internship, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne

03/2020 - 06/2020 Student assistant, Cetre Interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur la Montagne

09/2019 - 02/2021 Master of Science in Behaviour, Evolution, Conservation, with minor in Geoscience and Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Lausanne. Advisor: Cleo Bertelsmeier

05/2019 - 06/2019 Research Internship, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne

09/2018 - 02/2019 Research Internship, Department of Fundamental Microbiology, University of Lausanne

2017 - 2018 Student Mobility (2 semesters) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

09/2014 - 06/2018 Bachelor of Science in Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Lausanne

Ngan Bao Tu, Master student

After a Bachelor degree in Biology with a focus on taxonomy and conservation of the Magnoliaceae family in Vietnam, now I am doing a Master’s degree in Plant Science at the University of Milano and University Grenoble Alpes.  My strong research interests in Botany are biodiversity, ecological networks and conservation. For my Master thesis, I am studying the effects of glacier retreat on biodiversity and plant–insect interaction dynamics.


Coming from the tropical country of Vietnam, studying and doing research in the Alps is one of my dreams, a way to enlarge my scientific research and also to understand the impact of global warming on one of the important mountain ecosystem where we appreciate the amazing landscape.

Cécile Charles, Master student

After a Bachelor degree in Environmental Sciences with a focus on Natural Sciences, I am now doing a Master's degree in Biogeosciences at the Universities of Lausanne and University of Neuchâtel. Through my personal experiences, several bicycle trips across Europe, and many hours spent outdoors, it became clear to me how important the protection of nature is.


For my Master thesis, I am studying the impact of glacier retreat on biodiversity and soil functioning. The aim is to study the interactions between plants and soil and how they develop on recent ice-free land. In a context of climate change, it is essential for me to understand and anticipate the consequences of these changes on mountain ecosystems and in landscapes that I particularly appreciate, the Alps.


Co-supervised with Stéphanie Grand

Luca Eiholzer, Master student

Student with BSc in physical geography at University of Lausanne. I am pursuing a MSc in Environmental Science, orientation Earth surface processes in mountain environments. In addition, since this September I am co-president of the students representative association the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment.

I am studying geomorphology, with a focus on periglacial environments. I am enchanted by these landscapes and by the tenacity of the vegetation growing in these narrow places. For my master’s project I would like to learn more about the relationship between plants and ice: I will focus on modelling of the impact of glacier retreat on vegetation dynamic.


Co-supervised with Dr. Marj Tonini

Lucia Mottet, BSc student

Hi! I am Lucia, student in Geosciences and environment with specialization in natural environment. I am interested in the different dynamics that can be found on Earth, especially those related to the melting of glaciers, but also interested in the diversity of plants and their habitats. That’s why I am doing my Bachelor thesis under the supervision of Gianalberto Losapio and Antoine Guisan around the question of the impact of glacier retreat on functional diversity.

Laura Velasquez, PhD student

Environmental researcher and conservation biologist with an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford, interested in addressing inter-linked social and environmental challenges in ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change such as the European Alps. I am broadly engaged with research that investigates ecosystem functions particularly related to soil carbon sequestration. I am passionate about understanding and predicting soil and biodiversity dynamics with the purpose of informing and developing multidisciplinary projects and national policies that conduct to successful mitigation and adaptation strategies for mountain ecosystems.

 

Previously I worked as a scientific evidence researcher for the UK government at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) where I participated in the development of soil carbon sequestration policies which considered land use, agriculture practices and soil properties to achieve net-zero both in and outside the UK. My former research experience on land use changes and deforestation during my time at Oxford allowed me to bring new perspectives and insights into soil and land dynamics to my team at Westminster.  After my departure from the UK, I worked on conservation projects both in mountain and marine ecosystems in Colombia.

 

My PhD in Sustainable Development and Climate Change (Univesity of Milan and the Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori, funded by the Next Generation EU fund) focuses on how deglaciation in the European Alps impacts soil dynamics, ecosystem functionality and community livelihoods. This interdisciplinary project aims to understand soil-vegetation dynamics and its impact on ecosystem functions across a changing environment and to predict potential social and environmental shifts to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Education and professional positions

12/2022 - present         PhD student in Sustainable Development and Climate Change, University of Milan and Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori 

04/2021 - 12/2022 Research Fellow and Lecturer, Gimnasio Campestre

01/2020 - 06/2020 Scientific evidence researcher, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK government

03/2019 - 11/2019 Researcher and member of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford 

11/2018 - 03/2019 Training course on “Interdisciplinary Food Systems”, IFSTAL

09/2018 - 11/2019 MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, University of Oxford

11/2017 - 03/2018 Lab technician, Wolfson Carbon Capture Laboratory

06/2015 - 06/2018 BSc in Marine Biology and Zoology, Bangor University

Baptiste Doussot, MSc student

Hi! I am Baptiste, passionate about mountains and alpine ecosystems. I have a Bachelor degree in Ecology and Biotechnology at the Université Savoie Mont-Blanc (USMB) in Chambéry, and I am currently part of the Plant Science Master program of the Università Degli Studi Di Milano (UNIMI) and Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA). 

I would like to understand more the complexity of the alpine ecosystems and how climate change is impacting them. As I have hiked a lot in the Alps and also worked in different mountain refuges, it means a lot to participate in their protection.

With Gianalberto, I am doing my Master’s thesis internship working on Achillea millefolium about local adaptation to climate change.

Fuxiao Jian, PhD student

After receiving my MSc in Geographic Information Science at Beijing Normal University, I have started my PhD at University of Lausanne since October 2022.

During my master, my research focused on the impact of ecological restoration on evapotranspiration in greening areas.

Now, I am passionate about understanding the impact of climate change on eco-hydrological processes in mountainous areas.


Funded by China Scholarship Council of the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Co-supervised with Prof. Nadav Peleg.

Alejandra Morán Ordóñez, Researcher

I am a landscape ecologist and ecological modeller with more than ten years of postdoctoral experience in conservation science. I am interested in understanding how nature and society interact, and how both can be influenced by environmental policy and ecosystems management. I use quantitative tools to understand ecological patterns and processes across multiple spatio-temporal scales, from waterholes to forest stands to whole continents. I have applied these tools to many ecological questions, for example projecting species’ habitat suitability under climatic and land use scenarios or quantifying and mapping ecosystem services in semi-natural ecosystems under human management and climate change. Then, I use that ecological information to assist conservation planning. For example, to evaluate trade-offs and synergies between biodiversity conservation and agricultural or clean energy development at large scales or to identify optimal areas for forest restoration to maximize ecosystem service provision and ecological connectivity.

After10 years of international research experience at institutions such as Monash University (Australia), the University of Melbourne (Australia), the Forest Science Center of Catalonia - CTFC - and the CREAF (Spain), the CATIE - Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (Costa Rica) and University of Toronto (Canada), I currently work in between the Biodiversity Change Lab and the ECOSPAT group at University of Lausanne on assessing the impacts of climate change on the biodiversity of glacial and periglacial landscapes across the Alps within the context of the PrioritICE Biodiversa+ project. I´m also a research associate at the Conservation Biology Division of the University of Bern (Switzerland) where I co-lead a project on the same topic, with a special focus on the potential impacts on biodiversity of future infrastructure development after glacial melting.

Website: https://alemoranordonez.wordpress.com/

Alumni

Simone Balestra

BSc Natural Science, University of Milan (04/202210/2022)

Glacier retreat shapes ecosystem services provided by plants

Flavian Tschurr

MSc Agricultural Science, ETH Zurich (02/2019–08/2019)

Fitness costs of herbivore-induced plant volatiles and competition in soybean

Valeria Renna

BSc Environmental Science, ETH Zurich (02/2019–06/2019)

Plant adaptation to land-use change and species invasion

Lara Gallmann

MSc Agricultural Science, ETH Zurich (01/2019–07/2019)

The influence of plant age on defense priming in soybean

Lena Stadler

BSc Agricultural Science, ETH Zurich (01/2019–05/2019)

Agroecological consequences of volatile-mediated plant interactions

Elizabeth Norton

MSc Environmental Science, University of Zurich (12/2016–12/2017)

Nurse shrub facilitation of ecosystem services: How plant diversity in the understory of Retama sphaerocarpa increases pollination

Collaborations

Conservation biology, Stanford University, USA

Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Agricultural Ecology group, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Bascompte lab, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Ecology and Biogeochemestry of Coastal Systems , University of Bordeaux, France

Functional Ecology, Estación experimetal de zonas áridas, Spain

O'Brien Ecology for life, University Rey Juan Carlos, Spain

Plant Biology, University of Milan, Italy

Spatial Ecology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

CREATE lab, EPFL, Switzerland

Plant Ecology, ETH Zurich

Como Lake Forest, Collettivo di quartiere

Terra Viva Como APS, Associazione di Promozione Sociale