MCAA – Meet the Board


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Rules for use of the Internal Governance budget for expenses incurred by Board members can be found here.


The members of the Board are as follows:

MCAA Board

Matthew DiFranco's picture

Matthew DiFranco

I have over 10 years of experience in medical imaging and machine learning research, including projects in digital pathology, medical device design and characterization, radiology and nuclear medicine image analysis, and pre-clinical imaging. I am also available for consulting services related to research and innovation in these and other topics.

As a computer scientist in the Zimmer Lab at the University of Vienna Department of Neurobiology, I am currently working on multimodal sensory/behavioral analysis of C. elegans nematodes using computer vision and machine learning techniques.

I previously worked with the Foundations of Cognition Lab (FoCo Lab) at UCSF to develop a community-driven, open source, machine learning, probabilistic atlas of the neuronal system in C. elegans worms using a Python/Flask/PostgreSQL framework.

As Board Chair of the Marie Curie Alumni Association, I am also actively involved in advocacy for science and research in society. The MCAA fosters networking and career development for researchers at different stages of their careers and is also active in European science policy initiatives.

Valentina Ferro's picture
Vice Chair

Valentina Ferro

Valentina Ferro has been an active member of MCAA since her first year in the ITN program PHOQUS. By founding and chairing the Scotland chapter, she had the opportunity to meet and engage with other MCAA members, and thanks to their collective help she was able to organise acclaimed events, like the "Science of SciFi" Series of public talks. She is also collaborating on the MCAA Blog and other activities in the communication WG. 

Before starting her PhD in biophysics at the University of Dundee, she graduated from the University of Catania, where she holds a BSc and an MSc in physics, with majors in material sciences and nanotechnology. For her master thesis, she worked as an intern in the photovoltaic department of IMEC, micro- and nano-electronics research centre headquartered in Leuven (Belgium).

She has lived in four different countries, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Scotland, and has travelled to more than 20, as she is passionate about meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. Her spare time is filled with science communication, crocheting, drawing and discussing new ideas with friends over a beer. 

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav's picture
Vice Chair

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav

Mostafa is currently a Vice-Chair of MCAA and leading the organization of 6th MCAA GA & AC 2019 in Vienna. He is managing the internal governance & sponsorship of the association. He is also a founding member of MCAA Austrian Chapter, Research Funding and Events & Networking working group. He was also a chair of Austrian Chapter from 2017 till 2018.

He is currently working as a Post-doctoral Researcher at ERC funded Project at TU Wien. From his masters degree in Netherlands and research experience at Belgium, he gathered experience and established an effective network of peers.

He obtained considerable career development expertise through trainings on Project Management, Science Diplomacy, Intercultural Competences, Alumni Relations etc. He organized session on Entrepreneurships, Project Proposal Writing, Supporting Researchers Mobility at national & international events including ESOF 2018. He also provided training on Career Paths for Researchers at universities and research institutions. His efforts and achievements have own him several awards in research including Young Scientist Award at E-MRS 2015 and IFSM 2014, 2018 and MCAA Alumni of the Year Award 2014, the first award of its kind.From 2016, he is a fellow of Royal Microscopical Society, UK. Please visit this site for more information. Please visit his personal site for more information.

Bala Attili's picture

Bala Attili

Dr Bala Attili is currently serving as MCAA treasurer and contributor of Financial Affairs working group. Previously, he was board member and chair of BeNeLux chapter and active contributor to internal governance and chapter management working group.

Dr Attili is currently working at University of Cambridge at Department of Radiology and Department of Nuclear Medicine. He has completed his PhD in 2018 from Laboratory for Radiopharmaceutical Research, KU Leuven-Belgium. During his doctoral research, Bala has been successful in developing scientific collaborations with national and multi-national pharmaceutical companies alike. Prior to his position at KU Leuven, he worked as an analyst in a European based pharmaceutical company. Bala’s educational qualification includes dual master’s degree in Pharmacy (MPham) and Business Management (MBA) in International Business. Apart from the above mentioned professional life and qualifications, Bala is also active in non-profit organizations such as iCare (Leuven volunteer organization for old and physically challenged people). Since 2014, Bala is a Mo-Bro: An activist at Movember foundation campaign for male prostate cancer awareness.

Bala enjoys spending his leisure time playing cricket and squash. 

Murat Gunes's picture

Murat Gunes

He received diploma in Physics and had two masters: McS. and Master in Social Sciences: Physics Teaching. He worked in different positions in different institutions as an expert or researcher. 

During his career, he had an opportunity to work at International and National projects collaboration with several groups that resulted in many peer reviewed articles and conference proceedings.

After obtaining  his PhD in the Area of Defense Industry, Aeronautics and Astronautics at Micro and Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Graduate Program METU, he became a multitasking researcher who can work on experimental physics, chemistry, materials science and instrumentation. 

He organizes and regularly attends National and International workshop, seminars and conferences  based on education.
His companies Enerins and He3 are based on developing custom based measurement instruments and wearable power generators. 

He is currently Marie S. Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Orsay Molecular Chemistry and Materials Institute at University of Paris Sud 11, Paris/France. His current research topic is to develop thermoelectric materials for practical applications.

He is active member of French Chapter and Business & Science WG of Marie Curie Alumni Association. 
He is also broad member of ODTULU Malatyalılar Association.

Learning whole life. 
He does aikido, learning violin and guitar. For pleasure, drawing is one of the oldest habits of his life. 

Fields of Interest

Cooperation     Self Improvement     Freedom     Nature      Conscience
Thermoelectricity     Thermoelectric Materials     Oxide Based Thermoelectrics    

Zsofia Buttel's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Zsofia Buttel

Zsofia is completing her PhD in the Molecular Microbiology Department of RUG, developing genetic tools for antibiotics production in filamentous fungi. As an Early Stage Researcher in the Marie Curie Initial Training Network, she has had the opportunity to not only develop her research skills but also get valuable insights into working with industry. Ever since graduating in Molecular Biology at the University of Szeged (Hungary), she has been focused on broadening her horizons through various international professional opportunities, such as her Erasmus internship in IBMC Porto, followed by 3 years as a research trainee in IBMC Porto's Bioengineering & Synthetic Biology Research Group. Zsofia is passionate about educational policy, helping students broaden their career perspectives and about making connections between academia and industry. She chaired her graduate school's PhD council for almost two years and became an active member of the Marie Curie Alumni Association, as the Chair of the Financial Affairs Working Group. Last year she chaired the Organizing Committee of the PhD Day Groningen (, with the mission to inspire people to discover the value of their talent and engage industrial partners in educational events supporting the spread of academic knowledge.

Linked In: Zsofia Buttel

Maria Górna's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Maria Górna

Maria Górna is a group leader in structural biology at the University of Warsaw since 2015, when she received an MSCA Individual Fellowship and an EMBO Installation Grant. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry in 2009 as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (ChemBioCam RTN, FP6) in Ben Luisi group at the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge. In 2010-2015, she trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Giulio Superti-Furga group at the Research Centre for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

Maria's professional interests regard the relationship between protein structure and function, protein engineering and biotechnological applications, especially in the areas of infectious diseases and inflammatory disorders. Maria is also passionate about the topic of Women in Science and enabling the career development, mentoring and networking support for researchers. She is active in MCAA since 2016, when she co-founded the Polish Chapter and led it as its first Chair until September 2017. Maria served as a MCAA Board Member in 2018-2020.

Renaud Jolivet's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Renaud Jolivet

Prof. Renaud Jolivet is a physicist and computational biologist specializing on the brain.  He has been working in biology and medicine for sixteen years.  Since January 2016, he holds an appointment as Joint Professor in Biomedical Physics at the University of Geneva and CERN.  Prior to that, he was a PhD student at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.  He was then a fellow at the Universities of Lausanne and Zürich, a guest researcher at the University of Kyoto and at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, and then a fellow at University College London.  Throughout his postdoctoral studies, he was supported by prestigious fellowships including a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship from the European Commission.  He currently leads a team of five scientists (4 doctoral students and 1 postdoc).  He is a Member of the Board of MCAA and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Organization for Computational Neurosciences. 

Prof. Jolivet has an h-index of 18 and his work has been cited more than 2000 times (Google Scholar).  He is intersted by how limited energy availability shapes brain frunction, and by how different cell types in the brain interact with each other and with neural networks.

Nehama Lewis's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Nehama Lewis

I am a senior lecturer (tenured) at the University of Haifa's department of Communication, and the head of the department's MA program in strategic communication and public relations, and the MA thesis track.  I am an incoming MCAA board member (2018-2020) and am the chair of the Israeli MCAA chapter since 2015. 

After moving from Australia to Israel, I received a B.A. (2002) and M.A. (2006) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2010) from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Following my dissertation I completed a two-year post doctoral position in the department of psychology, working at the Community Based Intervention Research Group (C-BIRG) at Florida International University in Miami.

My research interests focus on strategic communication, media campaign design and evaluation, message effects, and information seeking in the context of health behaviors and risk behaviors.  In 2013 I was awarded a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (2013-2017) for a project entitled "Drug-Related Information Seeking and Scanning from Media and Interpersonal Sources as an Indicator of Drug Use Risk: An Innovative Approach to Drug Use Prevention (SSBD)"(details at: 

Marco Masia's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Marco Masia

Dr. Marco Masia is Innovation consultant for SMEs, not-for-profit organizations, and start-ups. He holds a MSc in Chemistry, PhD in Physics and Master's of Business Administration. He has been vice chair of MCAA from 2016 to 2018, chair of the Policy for Successful Researchers Working Group from 2015 to 2016, and board member of the German Chapter from Its inception until 2018. From February 2016 he has represented MCAA in the Marie Slodovska Curie Actions Advisory Group at DG-EAC. From 2006 to 2016, he has been employed as Assistant Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Sassari (Italy). His primary expertise resides in computer modelling of complex chemical systems. In December 2011 he was awarded the UNESCO prize Chemistry in South East Europe for the UN International Year of Chemistry. He has been Marie Curie International Ougoing Fellow at Frankfurt and Boston Universities from 2012 to 2015. In 2016 he has been working with the Science Policy unit at EMBO as visiting researcher.

Sara Ricardo's picture
Ordinary Board Member

Sara Ricardo

I am a life scientist field with 15+ years academic research and leadership experience in London (PhD), New York (Post-Doc) and Barcelona (Junior PI). I am based in Barcelona since moving here after the award of a Career-Track Principal Investigator position in 2012. I since then left the academic world and am currently working in the tech start-up sector. I simultaneously also work as an independent consultant and coach, working with foundations, companies and academic institutions. I am experienced in managing teams, projects and budgets and developing partnerships and collaborations with non governmental organisations, academic institutions and in the for profit healttech sector.

I am currently a Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) Board Member, Business Developmer in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Medical Imaging Start-Up and External consultant.

I am a contributor to researchers' policy issues, including 1. Stakeholders’ responsibility and the sustainability of the scientific academic system and 2. How to increase the diversity of roles and empower women in leadership positions in Science and Tech. I have a long standing interest in science policy and innovation issues and on how these can intersect for the achievement of sustainable goals in, with and for a global and fair society.

Within MCAA, apart from currently serving in the Board, I have served on the Board of the Portugal-Spanish Chapter from 2015-2017 and am an active Policy WG member since 2016.