Meet Prof. Dr. Massimo Olivucci

Why did you decide to become a scientist?

At a certain stage in my childhood I became fascinated by the wonders of science and, in particular, by the wonders of biological molecules.

What is your favourite chemical substance/reaction/equation/phenomenon…. why?

The Schrödinger equation because it provides the physics explaining and controlling the structure, reactivity and dynamics of any molecule or molecular assembly (and therefore of biological structures).

Which scientist influenced you the most?
Enrico Fermi because he was both an outstanding experimentalist and theoretician.

Do you still remember your first (scientific) experiment and its result?
In spite of the fact that I am a chemist my first (successful) experiment was that of isolating different bacterial species in a petri dish. This happened when I was a teenager in the basement of my house. These experiments triggered my interest for the chemical/molecular mechanism allowing organisms to replicate and for biological molecules in general.

What in your view is the most significant scientific advancement (of the last ~100 years), why?
The understanding of the structure of nucleic acids … among many others.

What is the most exciting part of your current research?
We are trying to understand the details of molecular mechanisms allowing biological organisms to capture and use light energy and how this knowledge could then be exploited to design new materials. For this reason we use computational methods to model light-triggered dynamics in biological photoreceptors.

What is your favourite volume in Topics in Current Chemistry?
There many outstanding and inspiring volumes. One recent volume on "Density-Functional Methods for Excited States" edited by Nicolas Ferré, Michael Filatov and Miquel Huix-Rotllant has been particularly useful to me.

What do you prefer: electronic or print publications?
They both have their validity.

How can Topics in Current Chemistry best serve the scientific community?
My vision for Topics in Current Chemistry is simple: I would like to help create an outstanding tool for the next generation of scientists. In other words, junior researchers who are approaching the stage of developing an independent research career or that have just started it, need an effective and rigorous way to be rapidly introduced to specific field of chemical research. I believe that the topical collections characterizing Topics in Chemistry offer an outstanding way to satisfy this need.

© SpringerMassimo Olivucci graduated in 1984 and took a Ph. D. in Chemistry in 1998 at the Dipartimento Chimico “G. Ciamician” at the University of Bologna working with Prof. Fernando Bernardi. From 1989-1991 he carried out research work with Prof. Michael Robb at King's College London and in 1991 he was appointed Lecturer at the University of Bologna. In 1998 he moved to the University of Siena where he was appointed Associate Professor in 1998 and Full Professor of Organic Chemistry in 2001. In 2006 he was appointed Research Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Center for Photochemical Sciences at the Bowling Green State University, OH and created the Laboratory for Computational Photochemistry and Photobiology (LCPP) with joint activities in the United States and Italy.

Massimo Olivucci is the author of over 200 research papers (h-index 56) published in international peer-reviewed journals. His work focuses on the investigation of organic reactivity using theoretical and computational tools. The development of novel (or more effective) computational methods and strategies for mapping electronic excited state energy surfaces or tracing the excited state dynamics of different organic chromophores is also at the center of his research activity. His most recent research objectives involve characterization of the photochemical reactivity of biological chromophores. Further information can be found here: