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Governance and Management

Pier Alberto Merli, Ph.D

Pier Alberto received his degree in Philosophy from Florence University and his Ph.D. in Economics and Social Sciences at the European Florence University. He is the Resident Director for Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Rome. He is the Director of Leonardo da Vinci School (School of Italian Language and Culture) Rome. He is a member of Forum of Education and NAFSA. He is a wine expert and sommelier.

GLi Director
Sonia Massari, Ph.D

Sonia Massari is the director of Gustolab International and the Academic Director of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Rome. She holds a degree in Communication Studies at Siena University. She received an M.A in “Web and TV reporting”, an M.A. in “Marketing, CRM and Communication” and she received her Ph.D. in Food Systems and Interaction Design, from the Electronic Engineering Department of the University of Florence (Italy). Since 2004, she has worked for several Education and Communication Agencies and European Commission Research Centers as researcher, evaluator, and professor. She taught at MSU University (NJ) and CUNY (NY). Winner of the Women and Technologies Award 2012 intended for women committed to innovation in food and nutrition. In 2014, Dr. Massari won NAFSA’s TLS KC’s Innovative Research in International Education Award. She actively collaborates with the U.S. and Italy-based international organizations and institutions on food-related issues (BCFN Foundation, ADI Design, WE for Expo, ISIA Design School and Scuola Politecnica di Design).  She teaches “Sustainability Design Thinking” at Roma TRE University. She is part of the ASFS Board. Contact Dr. Sonia Massari at

Director of Expansion and Development
Steve Nussbaum, Ph.D

Steve Nussbaum, GLI Director of Expansion and Development, has had extensive experience in international education. He received his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame University (USA), an MA from Sophia University (Japan) and his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Cornell University (USA). In addition to faculty appointments, he has held senior appointments in managing and developing International programs at the University of Illinois, the University of New Mexico, Waseda University and Earlham College. At Waseda, he guided the university in the creation of the School for International Liberal Studies. He is now assisting the senior management Gustolab International Food Systems and Sustainability expand their operations in the United States, and to develop field-sites in East Asia and other suitable locations across the globe.

Senior Advisor for Development
Carmelita Nussbaum

Carmelita Nussbaum, GLI Senior Advisor for Development, has an extensive background in international education in the United States and Japan.  She received her undergraduate degree from Webster University (St. Louis) and MA in education from Miami University (Ohio). She has managed university consortia programs in Japan and at Earlham College and has directed educational programs at multiple locations in the United States and Japan.  She is a specialist in learning strategies and challenges.

Program Advisor for GLi
Fabio Parasecoli, Ph.D

Fabio Parasecoli is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Food Studies Initiatives at the New School in New York. Deeply involved in the international food studies movement, he helped establish the Study Abroad Spring program in Rome for the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign; in addition, he is on the advisory board for the MA program in Food Systems at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona, and teaches courses on food and media at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.  He worked for many years as the U.S. correspondent for Gambero Rosso, Italy’s authoritative food and wine magazine.

CSFI Summer Program coordinator at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Roberto Ludovico, Ph.D

Roberto Ludovico received his MA in Italian Studies from McGill University and his Ph.D. in Italian Studies at Brown University. He is the Director of Italian,  Program Italian Scheduling Officer, he works as Program Liaison to the Italian Consulate in Boston and he is the Director of Forlì Exchange Program, as well Director of Internships in Lombardy Program. His research focuses on Italian and European Modernism, Literature and periodicals of the fascist era, Italo Calvino, the culture and literature of Trieste; Literature and tradition of Italian gastronomy.

CSFI Summer Program Academic Advisor and faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elena Carbone, Dr.P.H.

Elena Carbone is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of Nutrition, and Founding Director of the Community-Engaged Research Program in Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Elena is a Registered Dietitian who received her Dr.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Nutrition/ Communications from Boston University. She completed a dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and has served as a clinical dietitian at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Nutrition Education Advisor for the Assistant Surgeon General in Washington, DC. In 2004, Dr. Carbone received the College Outstanding Teacher Award; in 2006 and 2014, she was nominated for the University Distinguished Teacher Award. In 2013, she received both the Distinguished Academic Outreach Award in Research and an Exceptional Merit Award (for meritorious performance leading to the achievement of national or international renown in research).

Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Vietnam Summer Program Faculty
Professor Jack Harris
Professor Jack Harris has taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) since 1974. He directed the HWS and Union College Vietnam off-campus program in 1997 and in 2012. He directed the ASIANetwork-Mellon Foundation grant study tour for U.S. scholars of Asian Studies in Summer, 2013. He has lead four faculty and two alumni group study tours to Vietnam and will lead a two-week tour in January 2017. His focus is on understanding Vietnam’s society and culture, including its history and food. He has published several sociology and men’s studies articles on Vietnam and teaches a course on the sociology of Vietnam. Professor Harris served as Co-Director of the HWS Department of Education Title VI Grant for Vietnamese cultural and language infusion at HWS and organized and convened the “Vietnam: Transition and Transformation” Symposium (February 2002) and the “Ho Chi Minh Lectures” (February 2001). He co-directed the BRIDGE program to infuse elementary school curricula with social studies materials on Vietnam. He was awarded an ASIANetwork-Freeman Student-Faculty Fellowship in 2003, and the 2005-2006 Liberal Arts College Faculty Exchange Program Award from the American Council of Learned Societies and Luce Foundation. He served on the Board of ASIANetwork from 2008 to 2011. He was the co-Director of the ASIANetwork Service Learning and Environment in Asia Program funded by the Luce Foundation until 2013.

Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Aiko Tanaka

Aiko Tanaka is a well-known food educator, essayist, and commentator based in Osaka, Japan. Born in Osaka she studied with Chef Akiko Yoshioka. She appears frequently in Japanese and international food media, including Today’s Cooking (kyo-no-ryori) on NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting corporation. She has published multiple cookbooks and her essays appear frequently in both local and national magazines. Her current projects include the design and development of “Halal Washoku” – Muslim-friendly Japanese cuisine, in collaboration with Chef Daisuke Murota, the chairman of the Japanese Cooking Skills Associations of Osaka. She has offered Japanese culinary lessons at multiple locations across the world including New York and Tasmania. In 1999 she opened Lista Culinary School. She founded the Edible Herb Garden Association to build a network for food education at schools in Osaka and served as a consultant to Shoin High School to establish nation’s first high school food studies curriculum. She is currently Professor of Food Studies at Osaka Shoin Women’s University.

Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Shingo Hamada, Ph.D

Shingo Hamada was a Sawyer Mellon doctoral fellow for food studies at Indiana University in 2012 and is currently a lecturer for food studies in the faculty of liberal arts at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, Japan. His initial research focuses on the intersection of colonial history, knowledge production, and indigenous politics in Hokkaido, Japan. His main research explores the coastal environmental anthropology of the North Pacific. He has done fieldwork mainly in Northern Japan including coastal Hokkaido and Tohoku, and also southeast Alaska. His dissertation research used actor-network theory to examine why herring resource recovery project fails despite multiple stakeholders participate in collaborative restoration programs. His current research revolves around the cultural politics of local signature seafood in post-industrial Japan. Specifically, his research on fermented and/or dried seafood explores how local sense and taste of place is negotiated when traditional food culture is reinvented and revitalized with local culinary knowledge and memory, and non-local ingredients. He finished a Ph.D. in anthropology at Indiana University in 2014. After working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, he joined an inaugural food studies program in the faculty of liberal arts at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in 2015.

Critical Studies on Food Systems and Sustainability in Japan Summer Program Faculty
Greg de St. Maurice, Ph.D

Greg de St. Maurice holds a Culinaria Research Centre Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto and the 2017 Air Liquide Research Chair at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He serves as Vice President of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS). A cultural anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 2015), he has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University, Ritsumeikan University, and the University of Gastronomic Sciences. His key research interests include globalization, taste, place and place brands, chefs and cuisine, and Japan. Most recently, his work has appeared in Food, Culture and Society, Gastronomica, and edited volumes about food culture and food activism.

Program Staff
Learning Facilitator
Giulia Amicone, Ph.D
Dr. Amicone has been conducting research projects regarding the human-nature relationship, pro-environmental attitudes and sustainable behavior in food consumption and working as a teaching assistant in consumer behavior at Luiss University, in Rome, Italy. She holds a degree in Developmental. Educational and Well-Being Psychology and received a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology at the Sapienza University of Rome, with visiting fellowships in Spain, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

Media, Outreach and Projects coordinator
Salem Paulos
Salem has an 8-year experience in the field of global education. Prior to Gustolab International, she worked as a Student Advisor at CAPA International Education in Florence, Italy.  She also has experience in the field of Social entrepreneurship and Social innovation and has worked as a Fellowship and Venture Development Project Manager at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in Arlington, Virginia. She received her Bachelors of Liberal Arts and Human Science in Family Financial Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she initiated community projects addressing the rights of women, international cooperation, access to education, and social entrepreneurship. Contact Salem Paulos at

Emergency & Wellness Advisor
Emilia Finizia
Emilia Finizia is an Emergency advisor at Gustolab International. For more than ten years, she has run businesses in tourism, hospitality and management, in Italy and abroad. She has lived and worked in Italy, Denmark, and Brazil.

Katherine Garone
Katherine is currently working on a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”. She has been a part of the Rome Sustainable Food Program and has worked on a variety of educational food projects worldwide. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history and has a passion for creative experiments in the kitchen.
Natascia Tomassi
Natascia was born into a bilingual Italian-British family. She graduated two years ago in Russian and French at Roma Tre University and is now studying for a Master’s degree in International Management and Digital Marketing. She is hoping to use her language and marketing skills for promoting awareness of food sustainabilty.