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

Matthew DiFranco earned his PhD in Computer Science from University College Dublin in 2010. His doctoral research focused on machine learning in medical imaging, with a focus on the emerging field of digital pathology. Following his doctoral studies, Matthew worked as a post-doc at Innsbruck Medical University 4D Visualization Lab on project Rhinospider, an Austrian Wirtschaftsservice (aws) funded project for the research and development of a novel surgical navigation device prototype.

In May 2012, Matthew began a two-year Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (IEF) to carry out research in multi-modal bone imaging at the Computational Imaging Research (CIR) , Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-guided Therapy, Medical University of Vienna . Following that experience, Matthew joined the Hybrid Imaging Group at the Center in May 2014 to focus on computational methods in multi-modal biomedical imaging, including PET/MR, PET/CT, and digital pathology.

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. 

Vice Chair

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav

Mostafa is currently working as a Post-doctoral Researcher at European Rsearch Council funded Project at TU Wien, Austria; where he not only does research on nanotechnology but also prepare young minds for future scientific explorations. From his masters degree in University of Twente, Netherlands and research experience at Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, he gathered experience and establishe dan effective network of peers often vital for a researcher. He otbtained considerable career development expertise through academic and professional workshops, training session and seminars as an attendee and as an organizer himself. His efforts and achevements have own him several awards in research including Young Scientist award at the European Materials Reesarch Society (E-MRS) and MCAA Alumni of the Year Award 2014, the first award of its kind.

He is also a founding member of MCAA Austrian Chapter & Events & Networking working group. He was also a chair of Austrian Chapter from 2017 till 2018. As an active member of Financial Affairs working group, he contributed to attrach external sponsors and raise funds in 2017. He is current Vice-Chair and a founding board member of IEEE Young Professionals Affinity group Austria. From 2016, he is a fellow of Royal Microscopical Society, UK.

For more information, please visit his personal site.


Bala Attili

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

Bala is a final year PhD researcher at 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. He is also a member of Belgium of National cricket club ‘12 stars’.


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    

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

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.

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 Medical 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 (3 doctoral students and 2 postdocs) funded by several grants totaling ~1M CHF.

Prof. Jolivet has an h-index of 17 and his work has been cited more than 1700 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.

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: 

Ordinary Board Member

Marco Masia

Dr. Marco Masia is Innovation consultant for SMEs 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.

Ordinary Board Member

Sara Ricardo

Junior Career-Track Principal Investigator in Cell Biology, Genetics and Model Organisms having worked previously in private and public academic institutions in the US (NYC) and UK (London).  Within Life Sciences my work answers basic questions of Cell Biology within the 3D complex and dynamic in vivo embryo system. I lead research on the global principles of single cell population behaviour, cell motility and on cell biology of germ cells during development.  Non Scientific Interests include Science Policy within Society and Gender Equality.