Sciencemotionology: How does a mathematician start working in scientific animation?
MA: I was not so interested in applied sciences, but when I had the opportunity to study an algorithm able to model the behaviour of proteins, I was surprised and excited. I think that the curiosity moved me out from the ivory tower!
Sciencemotionology: I heard Scivis enjoyed of a great multidisplicinary environment while creating scientific animation under the supervision of Dr. Monica Zoppè. Can you describe how was your experience working in such an environment?
Maria: I started to work at the protein motion in the SciVis team and I discovered a new way of thinking: working in an active team made of people with very different and sound background, is really stimulating, opens your mind, and totally justifies the initial effort for a fruitful communication. So, a great experience, from all points of view. After this experience I preferred to work in group, and my attitude towards applied sciences changed at all, in positive.
Sciencemotionology: Do you have a favorite work or animation to which you contributed and why?
Maria: Protein Expression - Study N3 (the first love you never forget!)
Sciencemotionology: Can you describe a little bit of your workflow related to the animations you worked on?
Maria: Actually nothing of our algorithms appears in the animations produced by SciVis. I contributed to some animations, but unfortunately we could not complete our research during the period in SciVis. The group elaborated a workflow for the protein motion based on the Blender Game Engine; Claudia Caudai, another mathematician in the group, and I worked on protein motion. We elaborated an alternative algorithm, based on geometrical constraints and on experimental data, aimed at replacing the BGE with a lighter algorithm.
Sciencemotionology: What is your impression of the importance of scientific animations?
Maria: I feel that this importance is still underestimated, and that more could and should be done to make clear that visualization is not only entertainment, or dissemination, but it is also a research instrument, especially in the biological and molecular context, where a huge quantity of data is available about each phenomena, and has to be interpreted!
Sciencemotionology: What are you working on now?
Maria: Actually I work in the SILab - Signals and Images Laboratory in Pisa at the National Research Council - Italy. I collaborate with computer scientists, engineers, physicists, and other mathematicians, working on computer vision applied to underwater archaeology and e-health.