I always get questions about my background. It seems pretentious to spend much time talking about myself, but I thought it would be fun to clarify a few things, so you don’t have to guess.
The most common question I get is whether I am Italian or French. Well I am both. Both of my parents are Italian, and I was born and grew up in France. So until the age of 18, I was Italian. When I turned 18, France gave me citizenship, thus becoming a dual citizen.
When asked what I feel like, my answer is that I feel Italian and French. Usually people are aware of the cultural differences between northern and southern Italy, and ask me where I am from in Italy. Since my father is from the south and my mother from the north, I am the product of both cultures. If you have any interest in these kinds of questions, you may consider reading Amin Maalouf’s “In the name of Identity: Violence and the need to belong” which deals with having diverse backgrounds.
I went to elementary and high school in Versailles, near Paris. Then moved to Paris for my undergrad and grad school, getting my PhD from the University of Paris under my father’s supervision, working on fish genomics. To fulfill my mandatory military service, I lived in Tunisia, working at the Pasteur Institute under Dr. Koussay Dellagi, working on the genetics of parasitic diseases. I lived in Sid Bou Said, near Carthage, in the bay of Tunis, during two very formative years. After that I went for a Post Doc with D. A. Powers at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, working on the population genetics of Fundulus. There, I met my wife, Nicole Crane.
I was then hired in 1994 at UCSC and have been there since.
Nicole and I have two kids, Amalia and Alessio, and a small sailboat named after their combined names, Alelia, that is on the background of the picture above.
Together with colleagues, we described a coral reef damselfish Altrichthys alelia that we named again after the kids, who have been so helpful in the field over the years.