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Bilateral scientific cooperation


Bilateral scientific cooperation

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The Scientific Attaché

Anna Maria Fioretti graduated in Geology at the University of Padua (Italy) in 1983. In 1985 she began working for the National Research Council (CNR) at the Center for the Study of the Eastern Alps that afterwards became part of the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources. She worked in the mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, and isotope geochemistry of terrestrial magmatic rocks and meteorites. She took part in three expeditions in Antarctica within the Italian National Antarctic Research Program. She got interested in Education and Outreach and in 2007 she obtained a Master Degree in Science Communication. She was member of the Polar Research Committee of the CNR and is member of the National Scientific Committee for Antarctica of the Ministry of Education, University and Research. She is author or coauthor of over 100 scientific publications and has been referee for various national and international research projects. In 2017 she was appointed as the Science Attachè, Embassy of Italy, by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (E-mail:
The main framework that underpins the long-standing Australia-Italy science and research relationship is the treaty-level Agreement of Cultural Co-operation between Australia and Italy signed in 1975. The Agreement encourages the development of relations in the social, cultural, artistic and scientific fields. On the 19th April 2013, the Australian and Italian Government’s signed in Rome a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Scientific Research and Technology. This Memorandum establishes a framework for co-operation in scientific research and technology between Australia and Italy, and aims to strengthen bilateral science and research relations.

Australia and Italy enjoy a strong collaborative relationship in science and technology, and the science relationship, as measured by publications, has more than tripled over the past decade. From 2010-2012, Italy was Australia’s 9th highest publication partner. In 2013, Italy increased to Australia’s 8th partner, surpassing Japan. In the period 2011 to 2015, Italy was one of Australia’s top 10 partners in science and technology, while Australia ranked eleventh in the list of Italy’s international research partners. Of all of Australia’s major science partners jointly coauthored Italian-Australian publications have the highest index for the relative citation impact for collaboration, implying that the quality of bilateral science collaboration is indeed very high. In terms of Australia’s top twenty S and T partners, Italy is the equal top with Belgium for citation impact. For various other measures (top 1% of collaborations globally, top 10% and highly cited), Italy is consistently in Australia’s top five (out of the top 20) science performers.
Bilateral collaboration is promoted, for example, by joint workshops and symposia of which over 100 have been promoted by the Office of the Science Attaché of this Embassy and held in Australia since 1982 on common thematic areas of interest such as biomedicine, nanotechnology, applications of synchrotron radiation, advanced technologies for renewable energy, Earth observation & remote sensing, nuclear physics, astrophysics, agriculture, oncology, pure and applied mathematics, food safety, advanced railway technology and applications of advanced characterization techniques for the preservation of cultural heritage, space science and oncology. A high level delegation from the Italian Space Agency, led by the President of the agency, visited Canberra in July 2013 for the purpose of furthering research and industrial collaboration in space science and technology. The 6th bilateral workshop on applications of synchrotron radiation took place at the Australian Synchrotron 20-21 May 2014 whilst a high level delegation from Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics visited Australia in late September 2014 for discussions concerning the potential installation of a dark matter detector in Australia. There are now over 190 formal agreements between Italian and Australian universities which provide for student and staff exchanges as well research collaborations. 39 new agreements have been signed since 2009. Over 120 of these agreements are with regard to research exchanges. Additionally there are important cooperation agreements in strategic areas such as, for example, in hypersonics between the Italian Centre for Aerospace Research and the Hypersonics Centre of the University of Queensland, in synchrotron radiation between the Australian Synchrotron and Sincrotrone ELETTRA in Trieste and in radioastronomy with the signing in Rome 2009 of an inter-ministerial MoU for bilateral cooperation with regard to the Square Kilometer Array Project. The CSIRO and INAF (Istituto Nazionale per l’Astrofisica) signed a cooperation agreement with regard to the SKA project in February 2012.
Italy and Australia closely cooperate in the International Cancer Genome Consortium and new research agreements have been signed between Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Australian research centres active in particle and gravitational wave physics. For example, in 2014, the Australian and Victorian governments, and the ARC, awarded funding of almost $5 million for construction of the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory in Victoria. This project is a collaboration between Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Stawell Gold Mine and the Northern Grampians Shire Council to build a world class underground physics laboratory that will be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. In relation to the announcement early this year of the first ever direct observation of gravitational waves by the LIGO-VIRGO international collaboration on gravitational wave detection, where Australian gravitational wave researchers played an important role, there is a longstanding collaboration between the University of Western Australia, the University of Adelaide and the European Gravitational Observatory, which is hosted by Italy and where the VIRGO gravitational wave detector is located, near Pisa. This large scale research infrastructure was visited on the 26th September 2016 by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel.
At a workshop on hadron therapy held at the Embassy of Italy in October 2013, ANSTO and Italy’s National Hadron Therapy Centre, CNAO, signed an MOU on a cooperative program to use nuclear science and technology in the areas of hadron therapy and tumour diagnosis. In April 2014 an MOU was signed between Italy’s National Institute for High Mathematics and the Mathematical Sciences Institute of the ANU to promote the development and strengthening of the field of mathematics amongst members of the two institutes. In September 2014 an MOU was signed between Italy’s National Research Council and the CSIRO for the purpose of developing the relationship between scientists from both organizations.
There is a healthy joint Italian–Australian participation in the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programs of the EU. Formal agreements have been signed between the respective learned Academy’s of the two countries (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of the Humanities.) An arrangement for scientific cooperation in relation to Antarctica between Italy and Australia came into force in August 1992 after being ratified by both the Italian and Australian Parliaments.