Current research includes ecologically based options to elevate the biological value of marine infrastructures, while minimizing their ecological footprint. Experimental work is demonstrating that one of the negative impacts of urban infrastructures, i.e. the expansion of opportunistic and invasive species, could be mitigated through improved management of the severe human disturbances that are typical of these environments, such as those from continued maintenance. Work is ongoing to test the feasibility of promoting the conservation of desirable native habitat forming seaweeds on urban marine structures.
Laura Airoldi is an Associate Professor in Ecology and Marine Ecology at the University of Bologna. She received a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Genova, and carried out research at several institutions in Italy, Australia, USA and UK. She was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Stanford University. She is author or co-author of more than 90 peer reviewed papers, and her work has been cited more than 3300 times.
The core of her research is to develop interdisciplinary collaborations and approaches for studying the environmental effects of coastal urbanization, what levels of diversity and what types of communities are compatible with novel anthropogenic marine ecosystems, and what mitigation can be attempted. Professor Airoldi has been Coordinator and/or PI in several international research projects and initiatives related to these topics. These projects focus on the integrated test of the engineering, ecological and socio-economic performance of different approaches and designs of coastal defence structures, offshore platforms and other marine infrastructures.