# Università del Salento

• Lecce, Italy
Recent publications
Edible electronics will enable systems that can be safely ingested and degraded in the human body after completing their function, such as sensing physiological parameters or biological markers in the gastrointestinal tract, without risk of retention or need of recollection. The same systems are potentially suitable for directly tagging food, monitoring its quality, and developing edible soft actuators control and sensing abilities. Designing appropriate edible power sources is critical to turn such a vision into real opportunities. We propose electrically conductive edible composites based on ethylcellulose and activated carbon as enabling materials for energy harvesting and storage. Free-standing, phase-separated bi-layered films, insulating at the top and with low electrical resistivity (∼10 Ω cm) at the bottom, were produced with a scalable single-step process. Food additives can tune the mechanical and triboelectrical properties of the proposed edible films. We demonstrated their successful operation as electropositive elements in organic triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) and as electrodes in fully edible supercapacitors (SC). The TENGs showed ∼60 V peak voltage (root mean square power density ∼2.5 μW cm⁻² at 5 Hz), while the SC achieved an energy density of 3.36 mW h g⁻¹, capacity of ∼ 9 mAh g−1, and stability for more than 1000 charge-discharge cycles. These results show that the combination of ethyl cellulose and activated carbon, and the control over their mixture, allow on-demand edible devices for energy generation and storage, serving future edible and green electronics scenarios.
Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) is one of the major risks for global health. The exact mechanisms of toxicity are still not completely understood leading to contrasting results when different toxicity metrics are compared. In this work, PM10 was collected at three sites for the determination of acellular oxidative potential (OP), intracellular oxidative stress (OSGC), cytotoxicity (MTT assay), and genotoxicity (Comet assay). The in vitro tests were done on the A549 cell line. The objective was to investigate the correlations among acellular and intracellular toxicity indicators, the variability among the sites, and how these correlations were influenced by the main sources by using PMF receptor model coupled with MLR. The OPDTTV, OSGCV, and cytotoxicity were strongly influenced by combustion sources. Advection of African dust led to lower-than-average intrinsic toxicity indicators. OPDTTV and OSGCV showed site-dependent correlations suggesting that acellular OP may not be fully representative of the intracellular oxidative stress at all sites and conditions. Cytotoxicity correlated with both OPDTTV and OSGCV at two sites out of three and the strength of the correlation was larger with OSGCV. Genotoxicity was correlated with cytotoxicity at all sites and correlated with both, OPDTTV and OSGCV, at two sites out of three. Results suggest that several toxicity indicators are useful to gain a global picture of the potential health effects of PM.
Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Its emergence relates not only to the musculoskeletal degeneration biological substrate but also to psychosocial factors; emotional components play a pivotal role. In modern society, people are significantly informed by the Internet; in turn, they contribute social validation to a “successful” digital information subset in a dynamic interplay. The Affective component of medical pages has not been previously investigated, a significant gap in knowledge since they represent a critical biopsychosocial feature. We tested the hypothesis that successful pages related to spine pathology embed a consistent emotional pattern, allowing discrimination from a control group. The pool of web pages related to spine or hip/knee pathology was automatically selected by relevance and popularity and submitted to automated sentiment analysis to generate emotional patterns. Machine Learning (ML) algorithms were trained to predict page original topics from patterns with binary classification. ML showed high discrimination accuracy; disgust emerged as a discriminating emotion. The findings suggest that the digital affective “successful content” (collective consciousness) integrates patients’ biopsychosocial ecosystem, with potential implications for the emergence of chronic pain, and the endorsement of health-relevant specific behaviors. Awareness of such effects raises practical and ethical issues for health information providers.
The application of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) in drug delivery, magnetic resonance imaging, cell tracking, and hyperthermia has been long exploited regarding their inducible magnetic properties. Nevertheless, SPIONs remain rapidly cleared from the circulation by the reticuloendothelial system (RES) or mononuclear phagocyte system, with uptake dependent on several factors such as the hydrodynamic diameter, electrical charge and surface coating. This rapid clearance of SPION-based theranostic agents from circulation is one of the main challenges hampering the medical applications that differ from RES targeting. This work proposes a strategy to render biocompatible SPIONs through their encapsulation in the red blood cells (RBCs). In this work, the research has been focused on the multi-step optimization of chemical synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), precisely iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) and zinc manganese-ferrite nanoparticles (Zn/Mn FNPs), for encapsulation in human and murine RBCs. The encapsulation through the transient opening of RBC membrane pores requires extensive efforts to deliver high-quality nanoparticles in terms of chemical properties, morphology, stability and biocompatibility. After reaching this goal, in vitro experiments were performed with selected nanomaterials to investigate the potential of engineered MNP-RBC constructs in theranostic approaches.
This paper reports on a case study implemented at the University of Salento and, partially, at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, concerning the use of subtitles as a didactic tool to develop intercultural communication skills. This study examines the intralingual and interlingual translations of the reportage Fortress Italia: Capsized in Lampedusa , about migrant arrivals in Italy and Europe. Although the video is of interest to international viewers, the lack of proper subtitling may undermine its accessibility to non-native English speakers. On the one hand, subtitles do not appear when Standard English is used, so the comprehension of those utterances depends on the receivers’ listening skills; on the other hand, the official retextualizations are characterized by formal register and editorial additions that may affect their readability. For these reasons, an alternative rendering was commissioned to a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students of Translation and Interpreting, in order to enquire into new areas of adoption of English as an International Language and as a Lingua Franca. The analysis of the selected corpus of extracts will pinpoint the strategies of lexical and structural simplification and condensation, along with the selection of specific verb tenses and aspects, which are expected to enhance the envisaged recipients’ understanding of the video’s message. Since these features of English are actively selected, by the subjects that were involved in this research, so as to foster cross-cultural communication between the authors and viewers of the news report, this study contends that specific lingua-franca uses can be activated when subtitling multimodal texts. Hence, the notion of ‘audiovisual mediation’ will be introduced in order to label an approach to audiovisual translation aiming to: (i) make the illocutionary force accessible and acceptable to the envisaged, international audience; and (ii) overcome the conventional associations between dubbing and domestication, and subtitling and foreignization.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected tourists’ travelling intention, especially regarding foreign destinations. Amid this health emergency, many studies have explored the psychological antecedents of tourists’ intention to travel. However, none has investigated the role of belief in karma. The present research is the first to examine the influence of this cultural factor on tourists’ post-pandemic intention to travel abroad rather than domestically. A survey study with 1,586 Chinese respondents showed that stronger belief in karma is associated with a decreased intention to travel abroad, and this negative relationship is mediated by pandemic-related anxiety toward travelling. Our findings also carry theoretical and managerial implications.
Clustering is one of the main data mining techniques used to analyze and group data, but often applications have to deal with a very large amount of spatially distributed data for which most of the clustering algorithms available so far are impractical. In this paper we present P2PRASTER, a distributed algorithm relying on a gossip–based protocol for clustering that exploits the RASTER algorithm and has been designed to handle big data in a decentralized manner. The experiments carried out show that P2PRASTER returns perfect results under both optimal and non-optimal conditions, and also provides excellent scalability.
A crucial challenge in medicine is choosing which drug (or combination) will be the most advantageous for a particular patient. Usually, drug response rates differ substantially, and the reasons for this response unpredictability remain ambiguous. Consequently, it is central to classify features that contribute to the observed drug response variability. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with limited therapeutic achievements due to the massive presence of stroma that generates an environment that enables tumor growth, metastasis, and drug resistance. To understand the cancer-stroma cross talk within the tumor microenvironment and to develop personalized adjuvant therapies, there is a necessity for effective approaches that offer measurable data to monitor the effect of drugs at the single-cell level. Here, we develop a computational approach, based on cell imaging, that quantifies the cellular cross talk between pancreatic tumor cells (L3.6pl or AsPC1) and pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), coordinating their kinetics in presence of the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine. We report significant heterogeneity in the organization of cellular interactions in response to the drug. For L3.6pl cells, gemcitabine sensibly decreases stroma-stroma interactions but increases stroma-cancer interactions, overall enhancing motility and crowding. In the AsPC1 case, gemcitabine promotes the interactions among tumor cells, but it does not affect stroma-cancer interplay, possibly suggesting a milder effect of the drug on cell dynamics.
According to embodied cognition research, one's bodily self-perception can be illusory and temporarily shifted toward an external body. Similarly, the so-called "enfacement illusion" induced with a synchronous multisensory stimulation over the self-face and an external face can result in implicit and explicit changes in the bodily self. The present study aimed to verify (i) the possibility of eliciting an enfacement illusion over computer-generated faces and (ii) which multisensory stimulation condition was more effective. A total of 23 participants were asked to look at a gender-matched avatar in three synchronous experimental conditions and three asynchronous control conditions (one for each stimulation: visuotactile, visuomotor, and simple exposure). After each condition, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing both the embodiment and the enfacement sensations to address different facets of the illusion. Results suggest a stronger effect of synchronous vs. asynchronous stimulation, and the difference was more pronounced for the embodiment items of the questionnaire. We also found a greater effect of visuotactile and visuomotor stimulations as compared to the simple exposure condition. These findings support the enfacement illusion as a new paradigm to investigate the ownership of different face identities and the specific role of visuotactile and visuomotor stimulations with virtual reality stimuli.
From the 9th to 14th centuries AD, Sicily experienced a series of rapid and quite radical changes in political regime, but the impact of these regime changes on the lives of the people that experienced them remains largely elusive within the historical narrative. We use a multi-faceted lipid residue approach to give direct chemical evidence of the use of 248 everyday domestic ceramic containers from Islamic and post-Islamic contexts in western Sicily to aid our understanding of daily habits throughout this period of political change. A range of commodities was successfully identified, including animal fats, vegetable products, fruit products (potentially including wine) and plant resins. The study highlights the complexity of residues in early medieval Mediterranean society as, in many cases, mixtures of commodities were observed reflecting sequential cooking events and/or the complex mixtures reflective of medieval recipes. However, overall, there were no clear changes in the composition of the residues following the imposition of Norman control over the island and through subsequent periods, despite some differences between urban centres and rural sites. Thus, lending to the idea that post-Islamic populations largely flourished and benefited from the agricultural systems, resources and recipes left by their predecessors.
We introduce and study a variational model for signal and image analysis based on Riemann–Liouville fractional derivatives. Both the one-dimensional and two-dimensional cases are studied. The model exploits a quadratic fitting data term together with both right and left Riemann–Liouville fractional derivatives as regularizing terms, with the aim of achieving an orientation-independent analysis.
In the rubber hand illusion (RHI), participants see a fake hand touched synchronously with their real hand, which is hidden from view. The three-way interaction between vision, touch, and proprioception induces the sensation that the dummy hand belongs to oneself (i.e., subjective embodiment) and the illusory displacement of the real hand towards the fake one (i.e., proprioceptive drift). In the literature, there are mixed results (some positive and some null) regarding the existence of a relationship between subjective embodiment and proprioceptive drift. We conducted a Bayesian meta-analysis to tackle this issue quantitatively. Evidence strongly favours the presence of a correlation between subjective embodiment and proprioceptive drift, supporting the model proposed by Botvinick and Cohen in 1998. However, the correlation is around .35, a value suggesting that the two indices capture different facets of the RHI. This result clarifies the association between the illusory effects produced by the RHI and may be helpful for designing studies having appropriate statistical power.
Citation: Hamdy, R.; Elebiary, N.; Naby, F.A.; Borghese, J.; Dorgham, M.; Hamdan, A.; Musco, L. Hard-Bottom Polychaetes Exposed to Multiple Human Pressure along the Mediterranean Coast of Egypt. Water 2023, 15, 997. https://doi. Abstract: The complex mixture of anthropogenic pressure determines the impact on the marine biota, hampering the ecosystem's functioning. The coast of Alexandria, Egypt, experiences multiple human pressure, including sewage discharge, engineering activities (urbanization) for armoring purposes, and beach nourishment. Hard-bottom polychaete assemblages are demonstrated to reflect coastal areas' environmental status, though their use in monitoring programs is uncommon. The sensitivity of hard-bottom polychaete assemblages in depicting variations in environmental conditions of two sites exposed to the discharge of polluted water and three sites exposed to urbanization was analyzed. The high spatial and temporal variation in species abundance and diversity probably hid differences among the assemblages exposed to the two forms of pressure while highlighting differences among sites exposed to the same impact form. In addition, changes in the algal substrate probably influenced the observed pattern. Temporal variation of salinity and differences in biological oxygen demand (BOD) and the organic matter appeared to indirectly affect polychaete abundance and diversity by favoring tolerant algal taxa such as Ulva sp. Contrary to what was expected, assemblage variation due to site-specific environmental features accounted for more than the variations due to the two forms of human pressure in shaping differences among polychaete assemblages.
Heatwaves affect tidal flat ecosystems by altering the bioturbating behavior of benthic species, with potential consequences for sediment oxygenation, particle mixing, and erodibility. Although the frequency and duration of heatwaves are expected to increase under global warming scenarios, we lack insights into how heatwaves' temporal dynamics affect bioturbating behaviors. Using the widely distributed bioturbator Cerastoderma edule as model species , we quantified how heatwaves with identical heat-sum but different temporal dynamics (i.e., 3-vs. 6-d heating and normal temperature cycles) affect bioturbating behaviors and the sediment mixing processes in tidal meso-cosms. Our results show that short but frequent 3-d heatwave cycles increased the magnitude of bioturbating behaviors, thereby resulting in more bio-mixed sediment than observed under infrequent prolonged 6-d heatwave cycles. This unexpected result could be ascribed to the weakening health condition indicated by a high death rate (47.37%) under 6-d heatwave cycles than in 3-d and no-heatwave control cycles. Present findings reveal that the impact of heatwaves on sediment bioturbation will strongly depend on the temporal dynamics of future heatwaves: bioturbation will be enhanced unless the heatwave duration exceeds species resistance and increases mortality.
An environmentally friendly procedure was adopted for the first time to prepare green iridium nanoparticles starting from grape marc extracts. Grape marcs, waste of Negramaro winery production, were subjected to aqueous thermal extraction at different temperatures (45, 65, 80, and 100 °C) and characterized in terms of total phenolic contents, reducing sugars, and antioxidant activity. The results obtained showed an important effect of temperature with higher amounts of polyphenols and reducing sugars and antioxidant activity in the extracts with the increase of temperature. All four extracts were used as starting materials to synthesize different iridium nanoparticles (Ir-NP1, Ir-NP2, Ir-NP3, and Ir-NP4) that were characterized by Uv-Vis spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and dynamic light scattering. TEM analysis revealed the presence of very small particles in all samples with sizes in the range of 3.0–4.5 nm with the presence of a second fraction of larger nanoparticles (7.5–17.0 nm) for Ir-NPs prepared with extracts obtained at higher temperatures (Ir-NP3 and Ir-NP4). Since the wastewater remediation of toxic organic contaminants on catalytic reduction has gained much attention, the application of the prepared Ir-NPs as catalysts towards the reduction of methylene blue (MB), chosen as the organic dye model, was evaluated. The efficient catalytic activity of Ir-NPs in the reduction of MB by NaBH4 was demonstrated and Ir-NP2 was prepared using the extract obtained at 65 °C, showing the best catalytic performance, with a rate constant of 0.527 ± 0.012 min−1 and MB reduction of 96.1% in just six min, with stability for over 10 months.
The individual and combined effect of sodium chloride and hydroxytyrosol on the colloidal properties and the chemical and physical stability of olive oil-in-water emulsions was explored by multivariate statistical analysis. Sodium chloride affected the dispersion degree of the emulsions causing an increase of droplet size and inducing flocculation phenomena; however, during storage, the presence of hydroxytyrosol, when added in combination with 2% and 5% of NaCl, retarded samples physical destabilization. A protective effect of salt on lipid hydroperoxides, over storage, was highlighted, mainly at the highest concentrations used. The analysis of volatile organic compounds allowed to identify different oxidation patterns as a consequence of NaCl addition and hydroxytyrosol; moreover, by applying a multivariate statistical approach, it was possible to highlight a positive effect of both NaCl and hydroxytyrosol over the reduction of some oxidation volatiles.
Tasks and procedures involving lashing/unlashing operators have evident ergonomic criticalities but looking at the scientific background and on actual regulations there is a lack of attention toward procedures for a full ergonomic risk assessment. There are no scientific articles, no normative and standards that report ergonomic assessments for lashing and unlashing operations. According to this research gap, the proposed research seeks to contribute at different levels: carrying out a context analysis on how lashing and unlashing operations are carried out; identifying tools and methodologies that can support a comprehensive ergonomic analysis; combining the elements mentioned above in a risks assessment framework for ergonomic evaluation and prioritization. While pursuing such goals, the authors came up with a risk assessment framework based on simulation coupled with ergonomic methods and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). An application of the framework has been conducted in an Italian container terminal in 2021. First, processes and tasks have been analyzed to develop a simulation model capable of reproducing the evolution over the time of the real system. As next step, the ergonomic issues related to lashing/unlashing operations have been identified by applying the ergonomic methods through the simulation model. Finally, AHP has been used to rank, in an analytical way, critical ergonomic operations and to establish priority of interventions. The identification of critical ergonomic issues along with their analytical prioritization provide operations management as well as normative and standard makers with meaningful inputs towards greater standardization of procedures, based on ergonomic factors, in container terminal sector.
Rationale: Despite its importance to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination has raised hesitation in large segments of the population. This hesitation makes it important to understand the mechanisms underlying vaccine acceptance. To this end, the study adopts the Semiotic Cultural Psychology Theory, holding that social behaviors – and therefore, vaccination acceptance – depend on the cultural meanings in terms of which people interpret the social world. Objective: The study aims at estimating the impact a) of the way people interpret the socioinstitutional context of the pandemic and b) of the underlying cultural worldviews on vaccine acceptance. More particularly, the study tested the three following hypotheses. a) The meanings grounding the interpretation of the socio-institutional framework – that is, trust in institutions and political values – are an antecedent of vaccination acceptance. b) The impact of these meanings is moderated by the cultural worldviews (operationalized as symbolic universes). And c), the magnitude of the symbolic universes’ moderator effect depends on the uncertainty to which the respondent is exposed. The exposure to uncertainty was estimated in terms of socioeconomic status – the lower the status, the high the exposure to uncertainty. Methods: An Italian representative sample (N=3,020) completed a questionnaire, measuring vaccination acceptance, the meanings attributed to the socio-institutional context – that is, political values and trust in institutions – and symbolic universes. Results: The findings were consistent with the hypotheses. a) Structural equation modelling proved that vaccine acceptance was predicted by trust in institutions. b) Multigroup analysis revealed that symbolic universes moderated the correlation between trust in institutions and vaccine acceptance. And c), the moderation effect of symbolic universes proved to occur only in the segment of lower socio-economic status (i.e., the group exposed to higher uncertainty). Conclusions: Vaccination acceptance is not only a medical issue; it is also dependent upon the rationalization of the socio-institutional context. Implications for the promotion of vaccination acceptance are discussed.
Diabetes is caused by frequent urination, extreme hunger, increased thirst, irritability, fatigue, and blurred vision. Here, the proposed pressure sensor is used to detect the glucose concentration levels in the human body. It is applicable in the field of biomedical applications. In this article, we have designed, optimized, and analyzed the simulation of a microbridge and microcantilever based on the nonlinearity and sensitivity aspects using the finite element methods (FEM) tool, which is further integrated into electro-osmosis pressure sensor that detects the change in glucose levels in a continuous glucose monitoring system. This article evaluates that the sensitivity of the microbridge and microcantilever is 1.5e−7 and 5.2e−6, stress is 0.29 and 1–64, change in resistance is 0.000015 and $0.00011 \Omega \cdot \mu \text{m}$ , the output voltage is 5.11 and $0.15 ~\mu \text{v}$ , and the gauge factor is 22 and 24.
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• Department of Mathematics and Physics "Ennio De Giorgi"
• Department of Mathematics and Physics "Ennio De Giorgi"
• Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA)
• Department of Management and Economics
• Department of Mathematics and Physics "Ennio De Giorgi"
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