Culture and Conversation
A native of Tolmezzo, Italy, and special prize winner at the 13th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (first prize winner at the Italian National Contest), Daniele Macuglia is a second-year PhD student studying the history and philosophy of science. He is a member of the Italian and German Physical Societies, as well as the Italian Society for the History of Physics and Astronomy. Daniele has received several International House fellowships, including the 2010–11 Min-Sun and Anita B. Chen Residential Fellowship.
Please tell us how you came to study at the University of Chicago, and about your current research.
I came to the University of Chicago from the University of Pavia in Italy, where I graduated summa cum laude in atomic physics in 2009. I work at the Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine, under the supervision of professors Robert Richards, Leo Kadanoff, and Lorraine Daston. At UChicago I’ve shifted my focus from science to its history and philosophy; previously I worked on DNA extraction and sequencing and, at NASA and the European Space Agency, I developed a device for biomedical research under microgravity conditions. At the University of Pavia I worked under the supervision of professors Fabio Bevilacqua and Lucio Fregonese, who have given me a solid background in the history of science. They have also introduced me to the extraordinary cultural heritage of this 650-year-old institution, to its various museums and scientific collections now reunited in the University of Pavia Museum System. My current research focus is on the intersection between physics and biology in the 20th century, with special attention to the history and philosophy of scientific approaches to the origin of life. The University of Chicago has offered me an exciting program of study, and the opportunity to conduct my work from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Why is it important to live in a community like International House?
When I was a graduate student in physics, I was chosen through a rigorous national competition to live at the Almo Collegio Borromeo for five years, in the charming town of Pavia in Northern Italy. Founded in 1561 by Saint Charles Borromeo, Collegio Borromeo is the oldest residential college in Italy and is recognized as a highly qualified cultural institute by the Italian government. Living among an outstanding and small community of students, I came to understand the importance of sharing and teamwork. Now that I live at International House, I have the opportunity to apply what I have learned so far, and I hope to improve those skills further. I-House is giving me a lot, both in terms of a very stimulating international community and efficient and comfortable facilities that help me feel at home while living far away from Italy.
How do you contribute to I-House?
As a residential fellow, I do my very best to improve cross-cultural understanding among residents, making use of my Italian background. This year, I am planning to set up a series of special meetings to talk about Italy, to present its history and most interesting cultural features. During the last academic year, I worked with the Department of Romance Languages to organize a series of classes introducing residents to Italian culture and cuisine. I received enthusiastic responses from those who attended the classes, which has encouraged me to continue organizing these sorts of events.
If you could tell I-House alumni why their financial support matters, what would you say?
The I-House community is made up of people with very strong personal features: meticulous and hard-working students, people who are eager to learn and to accept challenges. These attributes, if properly supported, will lead them to academic achievements, fruitful collaborations, and future career success. Helping residents achieve their goals is important—and that’s exactly what gifts to International House do.
Your support enables talented and dedicated students from around the world to live at International House and take full advantage of all it has to offer. Please make your gift today.