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Portrait Gallery: Marco Buongiorno Nardelli

Marco Buongiorno NardelliMarco Buongiorno Nardelli, left, a Distinguished Research Professor in physics and chemistry, is known across the globe for his work in both the sciences and the arts. Originally hailing from Italy, Buongiorno Nardelli has traveled the world to perform his music and give lectures on specialized topics in physics. He has been able to combine his experiences during his time at UNT through the collaborative MaterialsSoundMusic Project.

What is your role in your department?

I study computational materials physics, in particular I look at theoretical developments, methods, and techniques. My research is essentially focused on fundamental properties of materials using high-performance computing. I am also a founding member of the AFLOW (Automatic-Flow for Materials Discovery) Consortium.

How long have you worked at UNT, and what is your education and training?

I came to UNT in 2012 as a member of the materials modeling research cluster. Before UNT, I was a faculty member in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University. I got my doctorate at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Italy in 1993.

As for my musical studies, I studied flute with Oro and Gian-Luca Petrucci in Rome and Brooks deWetter-Smit at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I studied composition with Riccardo Giagni in Rome, Lyda di Cuffa in Florence, Alan Shockley at California State University, Long Beach, and Allen Anderson at UNC-Chapel Hill. I have recorded for the Italian National Radio and Television (RAI), various jazz and world music ensembles and I am a PARMA Recordings artist.

  • Listen to my most recent release from Big Round Records, "Morning Moon."

Do you have a favorite project, performance, lecture, or major success story from your career?

In the course of my career I have been a pioneer in a number of fields. I have published more than 120 scholarly articles in international journals and have garnered over 6,900 citations. I have been invited to present the results of my research in more than 150 conferences and workshops, and I have taught specialized lectures all over the world. 

Today, I am excited about a project that blends my scientific and musical interests in a single venue: the MaterialsSoundMusic project. The project is based on the synergy between my scientific research, artistic vision, and the ideal of engaging the general public in the understanding and appreciation of science through art. My research is focused on the understanding of fundamental properties of materials using high-performance computing (what we call “computational materials science”). A main component of this is the development of databases to help discover and characterize various materials.

MaterialsSoundMusic began as a large-scale collaboration focused on the artistic reinterpretation of these materials property data as expressive media and has evolved into a new computer-aided data-driven composition based on conveying information of scientific data streams.

What got you into music? What got you into science?

I started to study music when I was 7 years old, well before I decided to become a physicist. My father was a scientist and always encouraged me to be inquisitive and critical—from there it was an easy step to become a scientist myself. I have always kept music alongside science, and now, at UNT, I have been able to merge my two professional passions. 

How do you relate your art to the sciences? Specially, other than sound waves, how are music and science intertwined?

I believe that all knowledge is intertwined in a way or another, although sometimes the connections can be hidden or remote. Art and science are part of the same dialogue within human cultures and societies. All is in the power of ideas. 

What hobbies do you have outside work?

In no particular order: all forms of art, sailing, reading, cooking, trekking and spending time outdoors.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married with my wife, Antonella, who is also a UNT faculty member in the Department of Biology, for 23 years. We have two sons, Simone (15) and Luca (12).

—Compiled by Bre Mapston, student assistant, URCM

Posted on: Fri 12 June 2015

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