Since 10 January 2020 he has been Minister for Universities and Research in Giuseppe Conte’s second government. An engineer with a PhD in structural engineering, he has been Full Professor of Construction Techniques since 2000. He served as Rector of the University of Naples "Federico II" from 2014 to 2020 and Vice-Chancellor of the same university from 2010 to 2014. He was Chairman of CRUI (Conference of Italian University Rectors) from 2015 to 2020.
He was a member of the Italian Supreme Council for Public Works and the Major Risks Commission. He served as advisor to the Italian Minister for Reforms and Innovation in the Public Administration from 2006 to 2008.
He is the author or editor of many books and over 400 scientific papers and he has carried out theoretical and experimental research, mainly in the fields of earthquake and structural engineering, and innovative materials, coordinating numerous national and international research projects and participating in the activities of authoritative national and international scientific and regulatory associations.