After graduating at the University of Milan (Italy) in Natural Sciences (Botany), I worked as a contract scientist at the Archaeological Museum of Como and left the team in 1993 to start a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After finishing my PhD I took up a position as research fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, also teaching archaeology and human evolution at the Institute for Continuing Education (Madingly Hall) of the University of Cambridge. In 2004 I became affiliated lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and in 2005 director of studies in archaeology and anthropology at St. Edmund's College in the University of Cambridge. Since July 2005 I am ICREA research professor first at the IMF-CSIC and from 2014 at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. I currently coordinate the Culture and Socio-Ecological Dynamics (CaSEs) research group and I teach in the UPF Master in World History.
My background is in archaeobotany and environmental archaeology, and I am interested in understanding the socio-ecological dynamics of past human populations in arid and semi-arid environments, from the Mediterranean to the tropics. My interests span from past vegetation histories, the modelling and simulation of processes in human behavioural change, people-plants co-evolutionary dynamics, long term trajectories of biodiversity and sustainability in prehistoric societies, and the origin and resilience of agriculture. Agriculture had an immense impact on humans and non-humans, and the future of our world is linked to making agriculture sustainable by maintaining biodiversity, re-evaluating traditional knowledge and mitigating environmental impact. Archaeology can play a key role in all these lines of investigation. Key areas for my work are South and West Asia, and South America.