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Meet our alumni: Accelerating towards a greener future

Andrea Di Antonio (PhD Chemistry, 2017) is a Hughes Hall alumnus from Teramo, Italy. In this post, we shine a light on his journey to Hughes Hall and explore how he is utilising data in the transition to electric vehicles.

Making it to Cambridge

Andrea did not always plan to pursue a career in electric vehicle technology. In fact, much of the technology that Andrea works with now did not even exist when he was first thinking about his path through the world of work.

Rather, he had always been passionate about atmospheric science, since studying meteorology in High School. Following this dream, Andrea decided to pursue atmospheric physics at University, going on to complete a BSc and MSc in Atmospheric Physics. He specifically chose to study at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, one of the only three universities in Italy that offered the subject.

While completing his Master’s, Andrea had the desire to explore a career in academia. His brother, at the time a post-doctoral research associate at the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge, encouraged him to contact the group leaders of the University’s Centre for Atmospheric Science at. Andrea asked whether he could join one of the groups for a few months to carry out a research project as part of his MSc. He was offered a place.

In these four short months completing his Master’s thesis in Cambridge, he fell in love with the city and knew he had to stay. The opportunity came when he was offered a PhD, but Andrea’s plans came down to the wire. To meet his offer, Andrea needing a minimum score of 108/110 in his Master’s exam. The result: 110 summa cum laude. The rest, as they say, is history.

Andrea says of this time: “I enjoyed my stay in the Centre for Atmospheric Science so much that I decided to apply for a PhD position within the same group. The prospect of expanding my knowledge of the field by studying for a degree in Chemistry, coming from a Physics background, was fascinating.”

Making the most of College

Before coming to Cambridge, Andrea only knew of three colleges: King’s College, Trinity College and St John’s College. He didn’t express a preference for any college on his application form, however when he got here, he definitely made the most of the experience.

In 2018 he started the now famous Hughes Hall Pizza Society! He also organised an Italian-themed formal hall, played and served as captain for the college football team, and held posts on the 2017/18 May Ball Committee and the MCR.

“While waiting for the application results, I got to know some Hughes Hall students who made me wish I’d chosen Hughes Hall as my College preference. When I received my offer, I was thrilled to learn that I was assigned to Hughes Hall. I immediately felt welcomed from my first day, and it did not take long to consider Hughes Hall as my home-away-from-home.”

Making a difference – climate change

After graduating, Andrea applied for several jobs through the University’s Handshake careers platform, but when he saw a job opening at New AutoMotive, an NGO that promotes and accelerates the transition to electric vehicles, he knew it was the right job to make an impact. After a lengthy recruitment process including a coding test and multiple interviews, Andrea got the job as Data Analyst at the company, receiving the contract during his PhD Viva!

Now, Andrea works as Data and Technology manager in the company studying road transport emissions, with the aim to give the right tools to the right people to switch to electric vehicles.

Two of the projects that Andrea has contributed in creating are consumer products – a fuel cost tracker and a cost saving calculator, both of which gave consumers access to the information to help them make the transition to an electric vehicle.

He’s also developed an electric car count that keeps track of how many cars are registered in the UK each month, including a breakdown of fuel types and a map that spreads data by region in the UK.

Andrea also produced reports and analysis for both local and national government and has developed products for market analysts and journalists. Being a small NGO of only around 10 people, he has the freedom to pitch innovative ideas when developing products, working in an innovative and friendly small team.

Andrea told us that his favourite thing about the role is that he ‘was able to make an immediate impact in the role and gets to deal with a variety of audiences – sometimes scientist, journalists or policy makers.’

To find out more, or try out some of the tools that Andrea has helped develop, visit https://newautomotive.org/

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