About & Team

Water To Food represents the communication strategy of the ‘Coping with water scarcity in a globalized world (CWASI)’ project, a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC-2014-CoG, project 647473) and led by Prof. Francesco Laio @ Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

Water To Food aims at disseminating the research results obtained since 2015 from CWASI. The latter research project has relevantly contributed to the literature and quantitative results about the issue of water scarcity and food production and trade.

There are complex relationships among the factors driving water demand for food production in time and space, such as climate, agricultural practices, demographic changes, and market dynamics.
Therefore, among its many goals, CWASI primarily targeted:

  • The assessment of water footprint data of agriculture that considers technological advancements in agriculture practices.
  • The understanding of the dynamics of virtual water flows associated with the international trade of food.
  • The investigation of this trade, its drivers, and implications for food security.
  • The assessment of sustainable practices in agriculture, nutrition, and economics also in future scenarios.

The research has been conducted by merging ideas, concepts, theories, and methodologies from Hydrology, Sustainable Development, Economics, Complexity Theory, Climate Change, and Nutritional Sciences, Geopolitics and Agronomics, and Renewable Energy. Thus, our team is a melting pot of hydrologists, economists, engineers, and physicists, all sharing one common mission:

Taking care of water resources in the global food system



Full Professor and Principal Investigator


Francesco Laio is a Full Professor in Hydrology at Politecnico di Torino. He holds a degree in Environmental Engineering (from Politecnico di Torino) and a Ph.D. in Water Engineering (from Politecnico di Milano). He was recently appointed as Director of the Department of Environmental, Land, and Infrastructure Engineering at Politecnico di Torino. His scholarly activities are documented by more than 150 publications, including 95 papers in ISI peer-reviewed international journals, and a book published by Cambridge University Press. In the past few years, he has served as the coordinator of 11 national and international research projects (including a FIRB project and an ERC Consolidator Grant) for a total budget of 2.2 M€.



Associate Professor


Stefania Tamea is an Associate Professor in Hydrology at Politecnico di Torino. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Water Engineering (2007) and she has been working at the Princeton University (Princeton, USA) and at Politecnico di Torino, where she has now a position as Associate Professor. Her work focuses on the water resources used for agriculture and food production, on virtual water and international food trade, on sustainability, and the nexus between water and food security. Her scientific activity is documented by 25 papers in international ISI journals, 3 book chapters, and several invited speeches in national and international symposiums. In 2015, she has been appointed “Junior Marchi Lecturer” by the Gruppo Italiano Idraulica.



Full Professor

Hydraulics & Mechanics

Luca Ridolfi is a Full Professor in Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics at Politecnico di Torino. In this same university, he chaired the Department of Hydraulics, Transports, and Civil Infrastructures coordinated the Ph.D. School in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been responsible for several scientific projects, funded by national and international agencies. He led the publishing of more than 200 papers published in international refereed journals and he co-authored two scientific published by Cambridge University Press and Birkhauser.



Assistant Professor

Water-Food-Energy Nexus

Marta Tuninetti is an Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Torino, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (2018). As a Research Scholar, she visited Princeton University (present) and the University College London (2017). She was a visiting Master’s student at the University of Virginia (2013). Her current research focuses on the Water-Food-Energy nexus through global and high-resolution modeling approaches. She convenes scientific panels at international conferences, and she is Associate Editor of the Journal of Hydrology. She is a Science Communicator, one of the creators of WaterToFood, and the co-founder of WeSTEAM (an association for gender-based scientific dissemination).



Research Fellow

Economics and Policy

Elena Vallino holds a degree in Political Sciences at the University of Torino and a Master in International and Development Economics at the University of Applied Study in Berlin, Germany. She completed a Ph.D. in Economics of Complex Systems at the University of Torino, spending periods as Visiting Scholar at the Centre of Research in the Economics of Development (CRED), University of Namur, Belgium, and at the Arizona State University, USA. She worked for Italian NGOs and for the German Technical Cooperation Agency in Indonesia. She has published scientific articles in the fields of development and environmental studies. She currently works on economic water scarcity in food production and trade and on the socio-economic dimensions of the drivers of virtual water trade.





Guido Chiarotti is a scientist, a publisher, and a management consultant. He is currently the executive managing director at MAX, a recently established European Centre of Excellence (ECoE) on High-Performance Computing (HPC) aimed to foster the EU leadership in materials modeling, simulations, discovery, and design. He is also a research associate at the Institute of Complex Systems (ISC-CNR) in Rome, where he is involved in research activity on Economic Complexity. He is also a publisher of Scienza Express, an Italian scientific dissemination publishing house. He was the CEO of Spin s.r.l. for over 20 years, one of the first companies to introduce the internet in the Italian market. Previously he was a researcher for over 15 years at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, working in condensed matter computational physics with a focus on high-pressure phenomena, semiconductors, super-ionic materials, and surface physics.



Assistant Professor

Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Complex Systems

Carla Sciarra is an Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Torino, from which she received a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her research focuses on using statistical methods and complex systems’ theories to unfold the dynamics of climate risk, innovation, and sustainability, which define water use at the local and world level. During her career, she has worked in the international research environment at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 2016 and the University of California in Berkeley in 2019, gaining expertise in water – food – epidemiology nexus. She is a member of CEST (Centro per l’Eccellenza e gli Studi Transdisciplinari), an Italian association aiming to bridge science, politics and citizenship.



Postdoctoral Researcher

Environmental Economics

Benedetta Falsetti is a Post Doc at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), where she collaborates on the CASCADES project. During her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino, she has focused on virtual water trade and its economic value from a global perspective. In addition, Benedetta has worked on the physical and economic topological determinants of the food trade network, particularly the role of trade agreements. She collaborated with Wageningen Economic Research (WUR) in the International Policy Division as a Visiting Ph.D. to calibrate the MAGNET (CGE) model on virtual water data. Previously, she holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Economics from the Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Turin. She was a visiting Master’s student at the Department of Development and Environmental Studies in Olomouc.
Finally, she is a co-creator and science communicator of WaterToFood.


De Petrillo

Ph.D. Candidate

Water Footprint Assessment & Virtual Water Trade

Elena De Petrillo is a Ph.D. candidate at Politecnico di Torino. With her B.Sc’s thesis “Spatial Analysis of the Agricultural Water Footprint with free data visualization software” in 2018 she started to investigate the spatial variability of the water footprint and the facets of the virtual water trade network. Since then, she continued working on the Water To Food project with three scholarships. She completed her Master of Science in Environmental Engineering in the spring 2021 with a thesis on the spatial resolution of virtual water trade at the company’s scale. Currently, her Ph.D. research program focuses on the water-food nexus, enanching the spatial resolution of the virtual water trade assessment.



Research Fellow

Climate Change and Water Footprint

Vittorio Giordano is a research fellow at Politecnico di Torino. In December 2021, he completed his Master of Science in Environmental Engineering with a thesis on future scenarios of crop water footprint, aimed at assessing the impacts of climate change and advanced management strategies on agriculture, food production and water resources. Thanks to the experience gained on the water-food nexus, he currently collaborates with the Water To Food team while bringing forward his research project about Climate change and socio-economic scenarios of agricultural production on the African continent.



Ph.D. Candidate

Water-Food-Energy nexus & Food Waste

Francesco Semeria is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Politecnico di Torino. After
receiving his M.Sc. degree in Environmental and Land Planning Engineering, with a thesis investigating the
impacts of dams on agricultural practices, Francesco joined Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei as a junior
research fellow. His work focused on environmental system analysis and natural resources management,
contributing to the modelling of the Water-Energy-Food-Environment Nexus framework in different EU-
funded projects. At Politecnico di Torino, his research aims at valuing water saved in food waste reduction
strategies, linking water footprints to global food value chains.



Ph.D. Candidate

Complex Network & International Trade

Lorenzo Costantini is a Ph.D. candidate at Politecnico di Torino. In July 2020, he got his Master’s Degree in Physics of Complex Systems at the University of Turin with a thesis on Wave Energy, i.e., a renewable source of power aiming to extract energy from sea waves. Currently, his research activity regards complex systems and complex networks applied to the world trade of commodities. Specifically, he works on new methods to extract information from a graph while understanding the behavior of the system it represents.

Former members
Tiziano Distefano

Research Fellow in Water and Economics

Irene Soligno

Research Fellow in Environmental Sustainability

Susanna Grita

Research Fellow in History and Geography of Water Use

Ignazio Giuntoli

Research Fellow in Agriculture and Climate Extremes

DIATI Politecnico di Torino
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