PhD in Agricultural, Environmental and Food Science and Technology: Operating centre Bologna Main Department. Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences – DISTAL Research topics:

  • Agronomy, Herbaceous Crops, Flowers and Vegetables Systems, Agricultural Genetics and Agricultural Chemistry
  • International Cooperation and Sustainable Development Policies
  • Microbial Ecology and Plant Pathology
  • Agricultural and Food Economics and Policy
  • Agricultural Entomology
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Food Science and Biotechnology
  • Animal Science
  • Tree Production Systems, Fruit, Forest and Ornamental Trees and Grape
  • Water-Food-Energy-Sustainable Agriculture Nexus

Job opportunities and potential areas of employment With reference to the professional activities classified by ISTAT (Italian Institute for Statistics), for the doctoral students of STAAA PhD course different employment opportunities can be recognized in the field of intellectual, scientific and highly specialized job (Big Group II), or in general professions requiring a high level of knowledge and experience in the scientific sector, with the aim to carry out tasks which consist in enriching existing knowledge by promoting and conducting scientific researches, interpreting scientific theories, teaching them in a systematic way and applying them to the solution of concrete problems.

The more specific reference is a specialist in the life sciences (2.3.1), with special regard with the broader field of agricultural, environmental and food sciences. The sectors and the types of employment include highly several opportunities: enterprises of the agri-food and environmental sector (and related fields such as the sector of technical products for agriculture), government, producer associations, schools, institutions of research (public and/or private), organizations operating in the field of technology transfer and innovation, organizations dealing with cooperation and development.

Given the very broad field of employment, horizontal mobility for this professional figure takes the form of the possibility of moving to other roles in contexts similar to those in which it has gained some professional experience.

Learning outcomes

Thanks to its organization into 10 research topics, the STAAA PhD course provides the doctoral students with an in-depth knowledge and appropriate skills in the different branches of the agri-food sector. The goal is to prepare high profile experts able to carry out research, knowledge-transfer and management activities at the University, and in other public bodies or private companies. The educational path consists in a common program, aimed at providing the fundamental research enablers to every student to acquire an in-depth knowledge related to scientific communication, organization and functioning of the research.

PhD students are trained with the basic knowledge for the planning and implementation of the individual research project, and the elaboration of the research results. During the 2nd year, the activities are focused on the development of individual research activities, while during the 3rd year students are advised to concentrate on the preparation of dissertation. Activities to be carried out by Doctoral candidates

Doctoral students can carry out research activities at the different levels (farm, greenhouse, lab) as required by the specific topic chosen for their dissertation. The main instruments available for their researches, divided according to the different main scientific disciplines of the PhD course, include:

1) Analytical chemistry: HPLC, LC-MS, GC, GC-MS, UV-VIS, IR and mass spectrometers, gel electrophoresis, TG-DTA, isotopic mass 13C/15N, FTIR, ICP-OES;

2) Food analysis: texture analyzer, calorimeters, pilot plant for the high pressure homogenization, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR);

3) “-omics” studies: Real time PCR, DNA sequencers, PCR thermo-cyclers, microarray scanner, Abi-Prism 3100, Rotor Gene – 6000, Genomyx LR e SC, ultra-centrifuges, Nanodrop, DDGE-PCR;

4) Entomology, Plant pathology and Microbiology: laminar hoods, fermentation tools, autoclaves, incubators, optical and electronic microscopes;

5) Agricultural engineering: tools for the investigation of the interaction between the soil and agricultural machineries, pesticide dispensers, tools for the study of the physical-mechanic features of agricultural products, devices for the control of agricultural machineries;

6) Crop physiology: ion selective electrodes, micro-osmometer, chlorophyll meter, suction lisimeters, light scanner, devices for the measurement of 14C radio-isotopes, phloem sensors, gas exchange analyzers;

7) Cartography: building and landscape design software, survey and remote sensing devices. Research training activities compliant with the Doctoral programme’s learning outcomes

The Ph.D. in Agricultural, Environmental, Food Science and Technology requires the compulsory attendance at courses and seminars, which are common to the doctoral students of the 10 research topics, in order to provide a consistent and homogeneous knowledge basis. The courses/seminars (in English language) include:

1. Bibliographic services to support research (4 hours) 

2. Philosophy and methodology of scientific research (10 hours) 

3. – Writing a scientific paper in agricultural sciences (4 hours)

4. How to present a paper in a scientific conference in agricultural sciences (4 hours)

5. Setting up a research protocol (4 hours)

6. Statistical methods applied to agriculture with modern computer applications (25 hours)

7. Advanced statistics (10 hours)

8. Research financing and project design in agricultural sciences (20 hours)

9. Intellectual property rights, enterprise creation, and business plan (20 hours)

10. Academic Writing Course (20 hours)

11. Cycle of seminar held by visiting professors within Department of Excellence programme.

In addition, specific seminars (15 hours) are organized within each research topic. During the three-year period of the PhD course, the doctoral students with scholarship are required to spend an internship abroad (not less than 3 months, usually 6 months) toward qualified university or research centres, in order to facilitate the exchange and the integration of young researchers in the international scientific community.

The Ph.D. Programme in STAAA promotes the internationalization by agreements with research institutions for obtaining a double degree and/or the joint supervision and among them actives ones are: i) Framework Agreement among six partner EU universities founding the European Bioeconomy University; i) Framework Agreement between the University of Bologna and the National Chiao Tung University – NCTU (Taiwan); ii) ii) Bilateral-agreement: OUTGOING – International and European Law, Academy of Economy Studies of Moldavia (L. Sangiovanni, 33° cycle), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (E. Appolloni, 35° cycle) and University of Granada (F. Barbieri, 35° cycle); INCOMING – Universidade do Porto (C. do Vale Correira), Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Sokendai (M. Altaf Satti) and University of Strasbourg (R. Helfer).

The STAAA PhD programme also successfully participates to international funding programmes which allowed the activation of 2 additional positions in the 36th cycle (Program H2020-Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions-Innovative Training Networks) and 1 in the coming cycle (Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships – JCR Program). The STAAA Ph.D. programme also works actively to increase the recruitment of foreign students, through the information support, the link with institutions/universities from other countries and the cooperation with funding agencies providing scholarships to foreign students.

Currently, a total of 28 foreign Ph.D. students are enrolled in the STAAA PhD Programme (25%) and most of them are financially supported by international mobility programs (e.g., China Scholarship Council). PhD students holding a scholarship are obliged to spend a period of research and training of at least three months in foreign universities or research centres. They also participate in research projects of international importance, follow courses in English, and participate in international conferences and schools. Expected research results and products

The research products of PhD students in the 5 year period starting from the final doctoral defence will be evaluated on the basis of University of Bologna criteria: articles published on ISI/SCOPUS scientific journals, full paper and abstracts published in symposium proceedings, book and book chapters and patents. In order to be admitted to the final dissertation, it is mandatory that the PhD students demonstrate that at least one scientific paper was accepted or published on SCOPUS/WoS Thomson Reuters (ISI) indexed journals.

The paper must be coherent with thematic research of their dissertation as well as with research activities carried out during the three-year period of the PhD course. The admission to the second and third year of the PhD course is be based on a collective evaluation (Doctoral Council assisted by the tutors of each PhD student). The criteria for admission to the following year will include: a) the frequency and rating of the planned common teaching activities; b) the acquired skills in relation to the specific field of research; c) the ability to acquire the proper methodological scientific approach and to plan and carry out research activities on their own.

Academic Year2022-2023
Subject areaBiological, Geological and Agricultural Sciences
Coordinatorprof. Massimiliano Petracci
Duration3 years

Call for Applications

Application deadline: Jun 09, 2022 at 11:59 PM

Positions: More information in the PhD Programme Table

PhD website

Doctoral programme start date: Nov 01, 2022


Attachment 1: Curriculum Vitae summary

Attachment 2: Template for the Research Proposal

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