Dr. Valentina Di Santo

Assistant Professor of Functional Morphology

Division of Functional Morphology

Bolin Centre for Climate Research

Department of Zoology

Stockholm University

valentina.disanto (at) zoologi.su.se

twitter: @valedisanto

Google Scholar Page

Valentina is a fish ecophysiologist and biomechanist. She was born in La Spezia, a town by the sea in Italy. She studied Natural Sciences and Conservation Biology at the University of Firenze in Italy. Her love for fishes brought her to the University of West Florida where she studied the effect of temperature on digestion rates and efficiency in stingrays and sharks. She then moved to Boston University to study in the Marine Program for her PhD, where she quantified the effects of ocean acidification and warming on little skate development, energetics and escape performance. At Boston University she also studied the effect of body size on thermal sensitivity in cleaner gobies from Florida and Belize. During that time, she conducted field work and taught several classes in the Marine Semester in Belize. After completing her PhD, she worked in George Lauder's Lab at Harvard University as a Postdoctoral Fellow, where she focused her research on biomechanics of fish locomotion. At Stockholm University, she combines eco-physiology and biomechanics tools to understand how fishes adjust their locomotor behavior when challenged by abiotic factors, such as temperature, pH, oxygen, and flow. 

Outside the lab, Valentina enjoys music, improving her ukulele playing skills, swimming and surfing.

Graduate Students

Irene Villanueva Sanz

Master Student

Irene was born in Madrid, Spain. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). While an undergraduate at UCM she obtained the Erasmus Fellowship  to study at Lund University in Sweden in 2019. Currently, she is a  Master student in Ethology at Stockholm University (2019-2021). She is interested in animal behavior, physiology and adaptations to environmental variations. In the Lab, she is investigating the effect of climate change stressors on behavior and physiology, particularly during collective motion such as schooling behavior.

Hayley McDermott

Master Student

Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Hayley is now a first year Master student in Ethology at Stockholm University. She has previously studied at Háskóli íslands in Reykjavik, Iceland and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology, with a minor in Biological Sciences from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is interested in the ontogeny of sharks and other cartilaginous fishes. 

Erik Zhivkoplias

Master Student
zhivkoplias (at) gmail.com

Erik is from St. Petersburg, Russia. After graduating from St.Petersburg State University with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Erik decided to explore his interests in evolutionary biology and join experimental evolution study at NIH. After gaining some practical experience in the lab he started his Master's degree in Bioinformatics at Uppsala University. Erik is interested in Evolution and Biological Modeling, in particular, self-organization in biology. Currently, Erik is working to understand how the optimal school configuration is formed and affected by the environment analyzing videos of fish swimming in a tank. When Erik is not in a lab, he likes to get active outdoors when it's nice outside and make electronic music when it's not. He also enjoys traveling and street photography.

Undergraduate Students

Matilda Vilmar

Undergraduate Student

matilda.vilmar (at) student.gih.se

Matilda was born in Stockholm, Sweden and is an education student at Stockholm University. Matilda is doing a double major in Biology at SU and Physical Education at The Swedish School of Sport and Science. She is interested in biodiversity and how current climate change may affect different animals and ecosystems.  In the lab, Matilda is working on her Bachelor degree thesis in Biology by investigating the effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification on elasmobranch locomotion. 

Outside academia she competes in powerlifting at elite level. 

The Di Santo Lab at Stockholm University

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