The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Faculty Profile: Marco Serafini

Marco Serafini joined the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) as an assistant professor in the fall of 2018. Prior to coming to UMass, he was a senior scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute. After receiving his PhD in computer science from TU Darmstadt (Germany), Serafini was a postdoctoral research fellow at Yahoo! Research in Barcelona. His research focuses on data management systems, particularly graph data management systems and cloud databases.


Graph data management refers to data stored as a graph with vertices and edges. For example, a social media platform might store a user as a vertex, with edges for “is friend of.” Or a post could be a vertex with a “has published” edge. This type of data storage is very flexible, and allows new types of information to be stored without changing the physical representation of the database. Historically, these graphs have been stored using a traditional database. This summer, Marco will publish a paper showing that using graph-aware designs can improve performance over a traditional database. This is particularly useful for companies that perform real-time analytics, such as generating recommendations based on user actions. It is also useful in the security realm for detecting attacks in real time.


In addition to his research, Serafini is passionate about working with students. “I think that students are the best aspect of the job, by far,” he says. He is currently advising a PhD student on a project whose aim is to make it easier to run data analytics on so-called ephemeral resources, such as serverless computing. The research focuses on how to efficiently run queries on cloud servers.


“My time here been fantastic so far -- I love UMass," said Serafini. "It’s a great department. It's a very nurturing environment, but also there are so many great people that you feel inspired to do as well as them. It’s not too relaxed, and not too competitive. It’s a good middle ground.”


Marco speaks four languages - Italian, Spanish, German, and English - and in his spare time plays bass guitar in a band with fellow CICS faculty member Brian Levine.