Nazzareno Mandolesi was born in 1944 in San Benedetto del Tronto, on the Italian coast of the Adriatic Sea. He received his degree in physics from the University of Bologna in 1969. He subsequently received a European Space Research Organization scholarship at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and a United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency scholarship at that agency’s research facility in Harwell. From 1975 to 2010 he served as the Head of the Team for Infrared Astronomy and Experimental Cosmology in Bologna. Over the decades he has held dozens of research or administrative roles on collaborations and at institutions, including various senior positions at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics and the Italian Space Agency. He served on several ESA advisory committees. In 1998 he assumed the role of Principal Investigator for the Planck Low Frequency Instrument, the position for which he has received the Gruber Prize.
Mandolesi traces his interest in science to a childhood curiosity about the moon. Why, he remembers asking his parents (a pastry chef and a shop dealer), does the Moon change its shape every night? What determines the timing of the moon’s emergence out of the sea? Since raising these simple yet profound questions, his pursuit of physics has never wavered.
Mandolesi’s awards and honors include the Truentum Prize of the City of S. Benedetto del Tronto in 2009, the City of Stars career award from the City of Padua in 2010, the Grand Prix Award from the French Aeronautics and Aerospace Association in 2010, the Amaldi Medal of the Italian Society of General Relativity and Gravitational Physics in 2014 and the Edison Volta Prize of the European Physical Society in 2015.