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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)

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.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Fidji Berio

Fidji studied marine biology at the University of Bordeaux and the European Institute for Marine Studies in Brest (France). During her studies, she had projects on the behavior of the invasive crayfish related to hormonal signals, on biological successions in hydrothermal environments, and on the regionalization of the vertebral column of skates. She completed her PhD at the ENS de Lyon and University of Montpellier on Evo-Devo of mineralized structures in chondrichthyans. She used functional tests, 3D geometric morphometrics, and machine learning to quantify the intra- and interspecific diversity of teeth in catsharks and microCT and histology to assess the diversity of mineralization patterns in chondrichthyan vertebrae. She also collaborates with aquaria to get insights into the life-history traits of captive chimeras and their optimal breeding conditions. At Stockholm University, she works on the physiology of walking elasmobranchs, especially the energetic costs associated with the different locomotor behaviors of skates and sharks. When not in the lab, Fidji enjoys SCUBA diving, camping, music, and DIY.



Dr. Francesco Masnadi 

Carl Tryggers Postdoc in DEEP 

Francesco is a marine biologist with knowledge and skills related to fish population dynamics and stock assessment. He was born in Sarzana (Italy) where he started to cultivate interest in the marine environment, in particular  fishing practices and fishing resources. He graduated from the University of Bologna and he won a scholarship with the National Research Council of Italy where he came into contact with the complex but intriguing world of sustainable fisheries management. He has just completed his PhD at the University of Bologna with a thesis on the evaluation and management of demersal stocks in the Adriatic Sea. During his PhD, he spent a semester abroad at the Department of Aquatic Resources of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences where he helped the team in several official ICES assessments expanding his expertise to the Baltic Sea ecosystem. At Stockholm University, he joined the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Science in Dr. Agnes Karlsson Lab (co-advised by Valentina Di Santo) to  study the links between cyanobacteria blooms and fish ecology using the three-spined stickleback. Francesco loves playing the guitar, hiking, picking mushrooms and is quite into fishing.


Website: ResearchGate  

bio Francesco Masnadi.jpeg

Lab Technician

Camille Morerod

Camille grew up in a small mountain village called Les Diablerets in Switzerland. She received her B.Sc.  in Biology at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland and a Master in Marine Biology at Stockholm University. She has a very broad interest in marine ecosystems and how they change with climate change. She is a staff researcher in the lab, running  experiments and analyzing datasets. 


Graduate Students

Xuewei “Q” Qi

Marine Biology

Q is from Beijing, China. Growing up as a “city mouse”, he gets overly excited when he sees any kind of animal. Q received his BSc in marine biology from the University of Liverpool (UK). Q is currently a MSc student in marine biology in the Di Santo Lab at Stockholm University. His thesis focuses on the effect of cyanobacteria exposure on fish locomotor performance. Q loves learning the life history of organisms, how they move, how they live or maybe even how they think? Yes, when all is said and done, he might just love filming fish during swimming. Besides biomechanics, Q enjoys hiking, Animal Crossing and struggling with learning Swedish. He is also a self-proclaimed watercolor artist.


Chloe Marshall

Marine Biology

Chloe is from Brighton, England, where her love of marine biology started from snorkeling as a child. This led her to receive her B.Sc. in Marine Biology from Swansea University (UK) where she developed an interest in marine animal physiology and their response to environmental change. She moved to Stockholm University to further pursue this through a master’s degree in Marine Biology. In the Di Santo Lab she is currently studying the impact of branching coral loss on the swimming kinematics of reef fish. In her spare time Chloe enjoys exploring the Swedish countryside, swimming, cycling, and of course, scuba diving!

chloe pic.jpg

Paula Schmitz

Biodiversity and Systematics

During her bachelor degree, Paula transferred from Kiel, Germany, to Stockholm University. She is currently reading the NABIS (Nordic Academy of Biodiversity and Systematic Studies) program at Uppsala University. She is interested in the large diversity of fishes exhibiting walking behavior, and is currently working on her master's degree project in the Di Santo Lab looking the locomotion of mudskippers. Beside ichthyology, Paula has always had an interest in ornithology and is even testing the waters around entomology, currently starting to immensely enjoy the process of learning about the different insect groups. In her free time, she likes playing the piano, reading, hiking, and kayaking.


Sonia Marketaki

Marine Biology

Sonia was born and raised in Crete (Greece), and she finished her B.Sc in Biology in the European University of Cyprus. Her interest in Marine Biology started early as she spent her life next to the sea, but it sparked especially during an internship where she focused on seagrass and polychaetes ecology. To continue her marine interests she decided to move to Stockholm and study marine biology. Her thesis in the Di Santo Lab focuses on maneuvering in blind cavefish.
In her free time she likes to play the piano, read books and hike in nature. 


Undergraduate Students

Klara Freed

Marine Biology


Klara was born in Mariefred, Sweden and her interest for Marine Biology started when she studied in a marine biology program in high school called Marina Läroverket. During the program, she sailed to Portsmouth and the Canary Islands where she conducted marine environmental monitoring studies. She is now a sophomore in the Marine Biology Program at Stockholm University, and just joined the Di Santo Lab. When she’s not in the lab Klara likes to study, workout, swim or hangout with friends. 

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