Speakers of Alumni & Alumnae Reunion
USI's Speakers at the Alumni Reunion
Pro-Rector for Internationalisation
Cesare Alippi is Full Professor at USI Faculty of Informatics and at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), visiting professor at the Guandong University of Technology, Guangzhou (China) and Advisory Professor at the Northwestern Polytechnic in Xi'An (China). He has been visiting researcher/professor at UCL (United Kingdom), MIT (United States), ESPCI (France), CASIA (China), A*STAR (Singapore) and UKobe (Japan). Alippi is an IEEE Fellow, Member of the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, Board of Governors of the International Neural Network Society. He has served the IEEE CIS in various roles, including serving as Vice-President for education and coordinating multiple committees, including the Awards committee. Alippi has received several international accolades including the International Neural Networks Society Gabor award and several best paper awards. Current research activity addresses adaptation and learning in non-stationary environments, graph-basd learning and Intelligence for embedded, cyber-physical systems and IoT. He holds 8 patents, has published a monograph book (also translated in Chinese), 7 edited books and is (co-) author of about 200 scientific papers in international journals and conference proceedings.
Designated member for the Academy of Architecture
Graduated from IUAV in Venice he lives in Caldaro, Sudtirolo. He has taught at the University of Innsbruck, and was Visiting Professor at Wien, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Munich, Zurich, Milan, Porto and Viseu. He has received many awards.
Director of the Academy of Architecture
Riccardo Blumer, Swiss citizen, studied Architecture at Politecnico di Milano where he graduates in 1982. From 1982 to 1988, he worked for the architect firm of Mario Botta in Lugano. Since then he carried out his work as an architect working for companies such as Alias, Artemide, Desalto, Poliform, Ycami, B&B, Flou by Interior, for the Teatro alla Scala di Milano, la Triennale di Milano, Palazzo Ducale of Genoa and the Musée du Président Jacques Chirac in Sarran. In 1997 he wins the Design Preis Schweiz and in 1998 the Compasso D’oro (Golden Compass) followed by other minor awards thanks to the design of the chair Laleggera produced by Alias. Through the years he focused on structural issues aiming for minimalism, with experiments between physics and aesthetics, and the production of creative perfomances. Based on this he founded the workgroup “blumerandfriends” with which he developed important research activities with new installations and exhibitions. He taught in many Universities such as Iuav in Venice, the University of San Marino, the Naba, the Institute of European Design and the Politecnico di Milano. He has been Professor at the Academy of Architecture since 2013, which is also his designated workplace. Since September 1st 2017 he has been Director of the Academy of Architecture. In 2010 his chairs Laleggera for Alias and Entronauta for Desalto became part of the permanent collection at MoMA, New York.
Professor emeritus - Academy of Architecture
Graduated from the Venice Istituto Universitario di Architettura (IUAV). Professor of the Federal Polytechnics of Lausanne and Zurich as well as honorary professor of a number of universities. He has received important international awards and completed projects all over the world.
Pro-Rector for Education and Students' Experience
Lorenzo Cantoni is Full Professor at the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society. He is director of the Institute of Digital Technologies for Communication (ITDxC), of the Master in Digital Fashion Communication and of the Master in International Tourism. His research interests are where communication, education and new media overlap, ranging from computer mediated communication to usability, from eLearning to eTourism and digital Fashion, from ICT4D to eGovernment. He is chair-holder of the UNESCO chair in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites, established at USI in 2013. Lorenzo Cantoni has been Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society (2010-2014) and President of IFITT - International Federation for IT in Travel and Tourism (2014-January 2018).
Dean of the Faculty of Informatics
Antonio Carzaniga is a professor and a founding member of the Faculty of Informatics. From 2001 to 2007 he was an assistant research professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Antonio Carzaniga has a degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where he also earned a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science. His primary research interests are in the areas of Distributed Systems and Software Engineering, specifically in content-based networking, information-centric networking, distributed publish/subscribe systems, middleware, software adaptability and automatic fault tolerance, and testing. Previously, he also conducted research in software configuration management and code mobility. He is Dean of the Faculty of Informatics from September 1st, 2017.
Dean of the Faculty of Economics
Gianluca Colombo is Full Professor of Management at the Faculty of Economics. Previously he was Full Professor at Università dell’Insubria, and Associate Professor at Bocconi University in Milan and at Università degli Studi in Pavia. His other previous roles: Deputy Professor at the Sapienza University of Rome; Visiting Professor at the EM Lyon business school, at Aix-Marseille III University, and at Università Federico Santa Maria di Valparaiso (Chile). Prof. Colombo is member of EURAM (European Academy of Management), and of the Academy of Management. He has published several books and academic articles in the fields of strategic management, M&A, complexity theory, entrepreneurship, and family business –the latter for which he is a consultant. Prof. Colombo is the Director of the USI EMBA - Executive Master of Business Administration. He is Dean of the Faculty of Economics from September 1st, 2019.
Marco Della Torre
Dean's Office Coordinator, Academy of Architecture
After graduating in architecture at Politecnico di Milano, Marco Della Torre moved to Berkeley, California, in 1991 and then to San Francisco. Since 1998 he has designed displays for a host of contemporary art galleries, foundations and museums throughout the world. This has included highly complex installations for artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Mariko Mori, Carsten Höller, Charles Ray, Vanessa Beecroft, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn, Pierre Huyghe and Doris Salcedo, and collaborations with curators such as Germano Celant, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Eckhard Schneider, Ida Gianelli, Francesco Bonami and Jeffrey Deitch.In 2002 Marco Della Torre started to give seminars and workshops about preparation and design in art in universities and institutions, including La Sapienza University of Rome; MIT Media Laboratory in Boston, USA; Academy of Fine Arts, Turin; and University of Palermo. He has been visiting professor at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan; IUAV University, Venice; and Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM, Milan. Since 2011 he has been Dean´s Office Coordinator at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio, Università della Svizzera italiana.
Francesco Di Gregorio
Architect - Di Gregorio Associati Architetti
Born in Parma in 1985, Francesco graduated at the artistic lyceum Paolo Toschi and then enrolled at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio, Switzerland. From 2007 to 2009 he studied at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm with Anders Wilhelmson and Tor Lindstrand. Once obtained his degree in 2010 with speakers Mario Botta and Aurelio Galfetti, after short apprenticeships at the studios of Oriol Bohigas in Barcelona and Arata Isozaky in Milan he collaborated with Karin Matz and Atelier Branco among others, on a national and international level. In 2012 he took part with Vanni Meozzi at "8 Giovani architetti grattano il cielo" [8 young architects scratch the sky], exhibition curated by Casabella Laboratorio. In the same year he was invited to the exhibition "Architects meet in Selinunte - Partire Tornare Restare". He develops his design activity from the interior design up to the urban and territorial scale, with projects built in Italy, Spain, Sweden, France, Germany and Brazil.
Since 2018 he is member of the Architectural Quality and Landscape Commission of the Municipality of Tizzano Val Parma. Francesco is also associate producer of ZID films, Italian-French film production company based in Paris.
Docente USI e già Direttore del Corriere del Ticino
Giancarlo Dillena è stato per 18 anni direttore responsabile del “Corriere del Ticino”.
Ha iniziato a collaborare con diversi giornali già durante gli studi (conclusi all’Università di Ginevra, Facoltà di psicologia e scienze dell’educazione), per poi occuparsi di formazione degli adulti e orientamento universitario.
Entrato alla redazione del principale quotidiano svizzero di lingua italiana nel 1982, ha svolto diverse funzioni redazionali – in particolare di commentatore politico - fino ad assumerne nel 1998 la direzione. Ha pure condotto diverse emissioni radiofoniche e televisive di attualità, tra cui il talk-show di politica e costume “Piazza del Corriere” su Teleticino.
È attivo all’USI dai primi anni Duemila. Tiene corsi di scrittura mediatica e sul panorama mediatico svizzero e coordina, in collaborazione con i responsabili scientifici, il Laboratorio di Argomentazione nei Contesti della Pubblica Sfera dell’Istituto di Argomentazione, Linguistica e Semiotica della Facoltà di comunicazione, cultura e società.
Monica Duca Widmer
President of the University Council
Monica Duca Widmer (1959) is a chemical engineer (ETH Zurich graduate in 1984, dottore in chimica at Università degli Studi Milano, in 1987), founder, and head of EcoRisana SA. She was appointed President of the USI Council in December 2016, and is currently President of Migros Ticino (since 2011) and from 2023 member of the Board of Directors of Schweizer Salinen and of RUAG MRO Holding AG. Previously she was Member of Parliament of the Canton Ticino (1995-2011, President 2007/2008), member of the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (1998-2008), and member of the Federal Commission for NBC Protection ComNBC (1995-2007). She was also member of the Federal Communications Commission ComCom (2005-2017, Vice-president 2011-2017), of the Federal Energy Research Commission CORE (2009-2019), of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate ENSI (2016-2019, Vice-president 2018-2019), of the Federal Rüstungskommission (armaments commission, 2008-2019, Vice-president 2015-2019), of the Executive committee at the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW (2008-2019, Vice-president 2013 -2019), of the Council of the University of Lucerne (2012-2017), of the Council of the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland (2004-2015), and President of the steering Board of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre CSCS (2004-2007).
Rector of the Università della Svizzera italiana
Graduated in 1981 from the Liceo Cantonale (scientific lyceum) in Lugano, and continued his studies at the University of Geneva where he obtained a degree in mathematics in 1985 and, in 1987, a Ph.D. in mathematics. From 1985 to 1990, he was an assistant at the same university, before moving to Harvard University where he was Benjamin Peirce Assistant Professor from 1990 to 1993. In 1993, he was appointed Full professor of mathematics at the University of Bordeaux, where he held several executive positions at the level of institute, faculty, commissions, programmes, doctoral committees and international scientific projects. Prof. Erez was time and again a Board member of the University of Bordeaux 1, and was also vice-president of the university from 2005 to 2008. Prof. Erez is the author of numerous quality scientific publications and has regularly organized international activities in his subject field. He has great experience in the coordination of joint international projects in higher education. As of September 1st, 2016, Prof. Boas Erez is Rector of the Università della Svizzera italiana.
Pro-Rector for Research
Patrick Gagliardini (1974) is Full Professor of Econometrics at USI Faculty of Economics. In 1998 he graduated in Physics at the Polytechnical School in Zurich (ETHZ). In 2003 he earned a PhD from the Faculty of Economics of USI with his thesis in Econometrics on the modelling of nonlinear dynamics. He then spent a year in Paris as visiting fellow at the Laboratoire de Finance-Assurance of CREST (Paris) with a SNSF research grant. Between 2004 and 2006 he held an assistant professor position at the Faculty of Economics of University of St. Gallen, and between 2008 and 2012 he served as Junior Chair of the Swiss Finance Institute (SFI). He also served as Dean of USI Faculty of Economics from September 2015 until August 2019. His research interests focus on econometrics and especially financial econometrics, and the results of his research have been published in the main scientific journals in the field. Since 2017 he has been a Fellow of the Society for Financial Econometrics (SoFiE). Patrick Gagliardini is Pro-Rector for Research from September 2019.
Luca Maria Gambardella
Pro-Rector for Innovation and Corporate Relations
Luca Maria Gambardella holds a degree in Informatics and a PhD in engineering sciences and technology, developing a strong interest in artificial intelligence. In Lugano, he is Full Professor at the USI Faculty of Informatics and IDSIA ( Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence USI-SUPSI), an institute of 90 people that he directed for 25 years until 2020, and also the Director of the USI Master in Artificial Intelligence. Gambardella has published more than 300 publications (google-scholar, h-index 72, > 58000 citations) and is studying machine learning and developing algorithms inspired by the behaviour of ants applied to logistic problems. He has successfully negotiated, conducted and implemented several artificial intelligence and machine learning projects funded by Swiss and international research agencies and companies. He is co-founder of Artificialy SA, a company based in Lugano where he holds the position of Chief Technology Officer. He writes novels and creates digital art installations.
Pro-Rector for Research in the Humanities and Equal Opportunities
Sonja Hildebrand is Full Professor for the History of modern and contemporary architecture at USI Academy of Architecture and member of the Board of the Institute of the History and Theory of Art and Architecture (ISA). She obtained her PhD in Art History at TU München in 1997 where she habilitated in 2008. Before joining USI in 2011 she held research and teaching positions at TU München, Universität Bamberg, Universität Zürich and ETH Zürich. She was Vice Dean for Research at the Academy of Architecture from 2017 to 2020 and served her Faculty and USI in various functions, amongst others as a co-President of the Accademy Doctoral Board, member of the Accademy Teaching Commission and USI Research Commission. Her research focuses on the history of architectural culture and theory of the 19th and 20th centuries. She was responsible for various research projects at TU München, ETH Zürich and USI funded by the SNSF and other Swiss and German research agencies. Currently she leads an SNSF project on Gottfried Semper’s main theoretical work „Der Stil“ (with Philip Ursprung, ETH Zürich). She published widely on the history of modern architecture and urbanism, architectural theory and education. Her publications include two monographs and ten edited volumes.
Lecturer - Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society
M.A. in Classics, University of Genoa (advisors: Francesco Della Corte and Edoardo Sanguineti).
After a one year research grant in France, and an appointment in the USA as Assistant Professor of Latin (Lawrence, KS), I was appointed lecturer of Latin at the University of Chieti in 1984, and the following year at the Catholic University, Milan, where I taught Latin Language and Literature. In 1998 I was appointed Associate Professor (Reader) of Latin at the University of Lecce, where I taught Teaching of Latin. In 2002 I moved again to the Catholic University, School of Modern Languages, where I am Professor of Latin; I teach Classical and European Civilisation (Comparative Literature) and Computing for the Humanities.
In 2013 I received an Honoris Causa Doctorate by the Institut Catholique, Paris. Among international cooperations, I would like to cite particularly the University of Rouen, France. I am a member of the board of the journal "History of Education".
Professore straordinario - Facoltà di scienze economiche
Raphaël Parchet is assistant professor with tenure track in microeconomics at the Institute for Economic Research (IRE) and the Institute of Economics (IdEP). He joined the Università della Svizzera italiana in 2013 after one year of post-doctoral research at the University of Basel and the University of Lausanne. Raphaël Parchet got is PhD in Economics at the University of Lausanne in 2012. His main research interests are in public finance, fiscal federalism and regional economics. His papers on tax competition won different international awards.
Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences
Giovanni Pedrazzini is co-Head of cardiology at Cardiocentro Ticino and Full professor at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. He completed his medical studies at the University of Lausanne and then specialised in Internal Medicine and Cardiology in Bern and Zurich. He has been active at Cardiocentro Ticino since its opening in 1999, first as Head of the interventional cardiology service, then as Deputy head and finally as co-Head of cardiology. Since 2012, he holds a venia legendi at the University of Zurich. Author of numerous scientific publications, Giovanni Pedrazzini is a member - among others - of the Swiss Society of Cardiology, of which he is President, the European Society of Cardiology, the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine and the Medical Doctors Association of the Canton Ticino. He is Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences from January 1st, 2021.
Lecturer and researcher - Academy of Architecture
Art historian, essayist and writer, he has been working for several publishers, namely Einaudi, Electa and La Nuova Italia. From 1989 to 1996 he was an editor for the architectural review “Casabella”, and has been assistant to the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Il Giornale dell’Architettura”. He has taught History of Contemporary Art at the Faculty of Architecture of the Turin Polytechnic. He has written about art, architecture, aesthetics (La forma dell’incompiuto, Torino 2007), as well as novels (Patmos, Milano 2008, La sinfonia delle cose mute, Milano 2012).
Léna Pellandini Simányi
Professoressa-assistente - Facoltà di comunicazione, cultura e società
Dr. Pellandini-Simányi is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management. After studying Economics and Marketing (MSc), she earned her PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previously, she taught at the Sociology Department of LSE, and held a Swiss National Science Foundation Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fellowship at the Institute of Management and Organization, USI, and an Assistant Professorship at ELTE, Budapest.
Colin Porlezza is a journalism studies scholar born in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a Senior Assistant Professor of Digital Journalism with the Institute of Media and Journalism (IMeG) at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). Currently, he is also a Research Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, NY, and he also holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellow position with the Department of Journalism at City, University London.
He is a co-founder of the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) in 2004 at USI. He brought the UK node of the EJO to City, University of London, where he acted as director from 2020 until he left for USI. Prof Porlezza has also been working as a freelance journalist for various German and Italian-language newspapers and specialized magazines such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung or the Corriere del Ticino. He is currently a Board member of the Swiss Association of Communications and Media Research SACM and, in the past, he was also Co-Chair of the Journalism Studies Section in the same association. Additionally, he is a member of the Advisory Board of the Austrian National Study of Journalists as well as the international Network Innovamedia for innovation in journalism. He has featured on the Swiss Public Service Broadcaster SRG SSR, Poynter, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Tages-Anzeiger, Corriere del Ticino, 20 Minuti and other news media outlets.
Visiting Professor, Academy of Architecture
Francesca Torzo (Padova 1975) studied in TU Delft, ETSAB Barcelona, AAM in Mendrisio and IUAV in Venezia. She developed the diploma at AAM in Mendrisio and graduated with honours by IUAV in Venezia in 2001 with arch. P. Zumthor, prof. U. Tubini, arch. M. Kreisler, eng. J. Conzett. In 2001 she developed an experimental dry construction in stone together with eng. J. Conzett and HTW, Chur. In 2001-2002 she worked as project architect by Peter Zumthor Architekturburo Haldenstein, and in 2003 by Bosshard Vaquer Architekten Zurich.
In 2008 she started her own office in Genova.
From 2009 to 2017 she taught as assistant by Atelier Bearth in Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Since 2017 she is professor at Bergen Arkitekthøgskole, Norway.
She has lectured at a number of schools and cultural institutions, such as Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts de Paris Cergy, AUT Innsbruck, Technische Universität München, USI Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Brickworks International Speakers Series Australia, Technische Universität Wien, Museum Alvar Aalto Helsinki, Triennale di Milano, Archi Summit Lisboa, Frieze Art & Architecture, International lecture series KADK Copenhagen, and the Architecture Foundation London.
In 2018 she contributed to the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, FREESPACE, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and she is appointed Chairman 2018-2019 of Maarten Van Severen Foundation in Gent.
The project Z33 house for contemporary art in Hasselt is awarded the international 2018 Piranesi award as well as the first edition of the Italian architecture prize.
In 2020 she is awarded the WA Moira Gemmill prize.
Luca M. Visconti
Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society
Luca M. Visconti is Full Professor of Marketing at USI IMCA (Institute of Marketing and Communication Management) and at ESCP Europe, Paris. He is Lecturer at IFM (Institut Français de la Mode) and Sciences Po, Paris. Prior to his current appointment, he was Full Professor at ESCP Europe (2011-2017) and Lecturer in Marketing at Università Bocconi (1999-2011), where he received his Ph.D. in Business Administration and Management. He has been Visiting Scholar at Leeds School of Management, University of Colorado (2004-2005), and at École Supérieure des Affaires, Université de Lille2, Lille (2007-2008 and 2010). Since September 2020, he is Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society.
Former Secretary General and Administrative Director
Albino Zgraggen (1949) graduated in Modern and Contemporary History with a minor in Latin Language and Literature, from the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Fribourg (1977). He was an History and Italian teacher at the cantonal junior high school in Viganello (1970-1974) and Italian and Economy teacher at the Scuola professionale commerciale di Viganello (commercial high school; 1975-1976). After earning a teaching degree for high school (1977), he was a professor at the Commercial Cantonal School (SCC), where he also had been Director from 1988 to 1996. He joined USI since the very beginning in 1996: at first as Director of the Faculty of Communication Sciences and Economics, then he became Administrative Director (1999-2017) and Secretary General of the University (1999-2019).