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Dr. Valentina Di Santo

Assistant Professor of Functional Morphology

Stockholm University

Stockholm, Sweden

Whitman Scientist

Marine Biological Laboratory

Woods Hole, MA, USA

valentina.disanto (at)

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  

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Lab Technicians

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

Lara Varchetta

Marine Biology

Lara was born in Pietrasanta, a small town in Tuscany (Italy) but grew up in northern Italy where she was surrounded by nature. This is where she developed her passion for living organisms and natural sciences. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from the University of Milan. Although the city was far from the sea, she spent as much time as possible by the sea. At Stockholm University she has joined the lab for a project on walking and swimming biomechanics of  Sargassum fish. During her free time, she loves swimming, hiking, and chatting with friends.

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Ylva Johannessen

Marine Biology

Ylva is originally from Härnösand in the northern part of Sweden, but has lived most of her life in Stockholm. She has a previous bachelor's degree in computer and system sciences and has worked in the IT sector for some years prior to pursuing her dream of becoming a marine biologist. She is currently a master's student at Stockholm University, and her thesis focuses on the transgenerational effects of elevated carbon dioxide on fish schooling movement and energetics. In her free time, she likes spending time in the forest, crafting, and reading.

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Sonia Marketaki

Graduate student in Marine Biology

Project: Role of lateral line in maneuvering through novel complex environments in the Mexican blind cavefish 


Chloe Marshall 

Graduate student in Marine Biology

Project: Branching coral complexity affects reef fish swimming performance

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Paula Schmitz

Graduate student in Systematics

Project: Walking and swimming kinematics in mudskippers


Dr. Angela Albi

Postdoctoral Fellow

Project: Swimming performance and dynamics in mixed-size fish schools 


Thao Vu

Undergraduate student in Biology

Project: Sexual dimorphism in the eyes of dragonfishes 


Xuewei Qi

Lab tech

Projects: Biomechanics and energetics of fish hovering; Shoaling dynamics in guppies


Matilda Vilmar

Undergraduate student in Biology

Project: Swimming performance of sharks and rays under climate change 


Anna Tran

Undergraduate student in Biology

Project: Effect of progressive hypoxia on activity and metabolic rates of embryonic little skate

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