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Dario Polli

Politecnico di Milano, Italy
For pioneering contributions to ultrafast spectroscopy and nonlinear label-free microscopy
Dario Polli

Growing up in Milan, Italy, Dario Polli had a passion for science and the natural world. From a young age, he always wanted to know how the world worked. In his early school days, he was drawn to the sciences because it took understanding, not memorization. After high school, Dario pursued a degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. He then went on to pursue a degree in Physics Engineering from the École Centrale de Paris in France. In 2005, he received his PhD in Physics from the Politecnico di Milano.

Throughout his academic career and thesis writing, he worked with his mentor Professor Orazio Svelto. It was during this time that Dario was able to build on his strong interest in lasers and spectroscopy. Professor Svelto, a well-known pioneer in laser technology, was able to support Dario’s academic pursuits.

After graduation, Dario was unsure about his next steps and whether he was suited for academia. He realized that he enjoyed the collaborative nature of working with different groups in academia and the ability to pursue new opportunities with a sense of freedom. Working with great professors has greatly helped Dario during his academic and research pursuits, and he acknowledges the contributions of Professor Giulio Cerullo during the thesis and research stages. He continues to work with Professor Cerullo on a variety of research projects and credits him for continuing to find new inroads within the field.

Dario’s research has spanned many scientific realms, in particular, ultrafast laser physics, spectroscopy, microscopy and biological applications. Dario’s work in microscopy has led to great collaborative efforts with colleagues at various research institutions. This collaborative effort helps him see the field in a different light and to continue to stay up to date on a variety of science topics.

Dario’s focus in research continues to be in nonlinear spectroscopy and microscopy. The work and research he pursues comes from the mindset of helping everyday people solve everyday problems. He wants to bring his research and technology to as many people and fields of study as possible. He believes in bringing a sensible approach to the sciences. One aspect of his research he was keen to share was the role of label-free microscopy. Label-free microscopy would help studying a purer sample under a microscope, without the need to add any contrast agent. Dario says this is a more natural approach and can lead to more accurate readings. Overall, he says, “photonics’ future opens many doors for new ideas and research.” There’s a lot of work to be done, but it is definitely an important and exciting time to pursue opportunities.

As well as his work on the academic side at Politecnico di Milano, he is also a co-founder of the company NIREOS. An official spin-off of Politecnico di Milano University, NIREOS focuses on photonics and spectroscopy. In addition to bringing his scientific expertise to the organization, Polli has built on his continuous learning mindset by taking business courses and learning about how the organization can be sustainable. He has used his growing list of skills to help others in the field start their own companies and in navigating new pursuits.

One piece of advice he has for young scientists and those early in their careers is that “you have to feel good about the work you do, and you have to feel that you are growing and progressing as well.” He stressed the necessity to seek out mentors. He also offers guidance to the mentors, “invest in science, but also invest in people.”

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