38° Cycle - Call

The Ph.D. students for the 38th cycle will be appointed soon. The call is available at this link.

Assessing large scale ecological responses to climatic change of Central Mediterranean area in the last 2000 years (Ricerca PNRR - DM 351)

Tutor: Prof.ssa Amalia Spina - Abstract: This project will investigate the ecological dynamics across Central Mediterranean area in the last 2000 years. The semi-enclosed configuration of the Mediterranean Sea makes this a vulnerable region to modern and also to past climate changes. Archaeological and historic studies and paleoclimatic data make this area a perfect case study to investigate the potential influence of climate on civilisations. The focus will consist in the reconstruction of paleofloral dynamics. This approach will enable relationships within and between ecosystems, as well as periods of stability and periods of change. The method will mainly consist in the traditional – to reconstruct the vegetational paleocomunity - and chemical palynology - to reconstruct past solar irradiance, specifically ultraviolet radiation at the local, habitat scale. Stable isotope analysis of C and O will establish the precipitation regime, the atmospheric CO2 concentration as well as nutrient supply and ecosystem productivity.

Strategie di ricerca e conservazione per il patrimonio paleontologico: casi studio dall’Umbria (Patrimonio culturale - DM 351)

Tutor: Prof. Marcho Cherin - Abstract: Umbria represents an area of extreme interest for paleontological studies, especially with regard to marine and continental vertebrates of the Pliocene and Pleistocene (last 3 million years approximately). In spite of the great abundance of fossils, also of international scientific importance, the study of some collections is still at a preliminary stage. At the same time, the problem of the conservation of this important heritage has never been addressed, especially considering the multifaceted range of taphonomic contexts from which the fossils come. Through the identification of case studies from heterogeneous stratigraphic and taphonomic contexts, this project aims to provide on the one hand unpublished scientific data fundamental to the knowledge of the Umbrian paleontological heritage, on the other crucial information for its conservation, which can also be exported for other collections in Italy and abroad.

Use of biomass ashes in the treatment of expansive clayey soils for sustainable pavement construction (PNRR, missione 4, componente 2 - DM 352)

Tutor: Prof.ssa Paola Comodi - Abstract: Clayey soils are often treated by adding lime/cement agents, to improve their physical/mechanical characteristics. Binders’ production is an energy-intensive process and emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Fly ashes generated from biomass combustion are intended to increase due to the push for renewable energy and different employs were suggested for their re-use in a circular economy perspective: in the cement industry, in agriculture, in soil stabilization. The PhD project will be devoted to study from the nano- to macro-scale the processes occurring substituting lime and concrete with different types of fly ashes to road foundation layers The chemical, mineralogical, geotechnical and microstructural properties of the treated materials along curing time will be followed, using several methodologies. The laboratory experiments will be completed with test on fields, thank with the collaboration with companies, partner of the project.

Multiscale geophysical characterisation of seismogenic structures in off-shore areas: case-studies from the Adriatic foreland

Tutor: Prof. Massimiliano Barchi - Abstract: This project is aimed at characterizing the seismogenic compressional structures of the Central Adriatic, which is considered a representative example of seismically active off-shore region. The Central Adriatic is the most seismically active part of the entire Adriatic Sea. In the last 30 years, three moderate-to-strong earthquake sequences hit the study area, here indicated as SE-Palagruza (1988, Ml 5.4), Jabuka (2003, Mw 5.4) and the NW-Palagruza (2021, Mw 5.2) sequences. The three earthquakes are thought to be associated to thrusts of the External Dinarides fold-and-thrust belt. We plan to use a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach, based on several different structural geology and geophysical methods and datasets, including previously unpublished data derived from active seismic surveys (from bathymetric and high-resolution sub-bottom profiles, to seismic reflection lines up to crustal scale transects), instrumental and historical seismicity. At the end of the project, we aim at a full characterization of the dimension, geometry, kinematics, segmentation, deformation rate, and stress state of the active seismogenic faults of the study area, which could release further moderate to strong earthquakes in the future.

CO2 mineralization and circular economy: the role of carbonates' crystal chemistry at ambient and non-ambient conditions

Tutor: Prof.ssa Azzurra Zucchini - Abstract: Ex-situ CO2 mineralization reactions (CMRs) are among the most efficient methodologies to store CO2 in newly formed carbonate minerals. Two main weaknesses still limit the CMRs efficiency: the chemical-physical stability of carbonates in different environments and the slow reaction kinetics. The PhD project will be devoted to fully characterize the mineral physics and crystal-chemical stability of carbonates from ambient up to HP – HT conditions, as influenced by cation disordering and chemical composition, to find out the most stable carbonate phases to be selected as products for CMRs towards an everlasting CO2 sequestration. Reaction kinetics will be tuned by varying the reagents’ receipt and the use of different additives, e.g., nano-materials, will be. The reagent’s receipt and experimental conditions will be optimized also by using waste materials among the reagents, increasing the value in terms of environmental sustainability and “circular economy”.

Tephra correlation and synchronization between different archives to provide volcanological constraints and track past atmospheric circulation paths

Tutor: Prof. Maurizio Petrelli - Abstract: Tephrochronology is the study of tephra, i.e., unconsolidated pyroclastic material produced by a volcanic eruption. Tephra belonging to different eruptions can be proficiently used as chrono-stratigraphic markers for the correlation and synchronization between different archives. Also, they can be used to track past atmospheric circulation paths. In addition, they may provide effective data for volcanological studies, including intensity and magnitude of eruptions, age, as well as their eruptive dynamics. The project aims at developing new methodologies of tephra fingerprinting and correlations based on the combined use of state-of-the-art analytical techniques (i.e., EPMA and LAICPMS) and innovative methods of data elaboration based on Machine Learning.

Ongoing Ph.D. Cycles

  • 38° Cycle: 2022-2025;
  • 37° Cycle: 2021-2024;
  • 36° Cycle: 2020-2023.

General information

The new PhD program in Earth System and Global Changes aims to train specialists with interdisciplinary skills, able to deal with several significant and compelling problems of our rapidly changing world, mainly related to: Earth history and dynamics; exploitation of renewable and non-renewable energy resources and geomaterials, also in the perspective of a circular economy; mitigation of geological risks (seismic, volcanic, and hydro-geomorphological).
The PhD program provides international training opportunities on issues relating to climate change, strategies for mitigating natural and human-induced risks, demand for natural resources, and environmental sustainability.

The PhD program will train experts with high technical-scientific profile, able to fit into various public and private occupational contexts. The obtained updated and innovative skills will facilitate access to numerous work fields, such as (1) universities and other research institutions; (2) government agencies that require researchers who can support management and policy decisions to address major environmental problems that modern society is facing today, also promoting increased interactions between stakeholders and local communities (Social License); (3) public and private companies devoted to land management and geological risk mitigation, procurement, modelling, and management of geo-resources, sustainable production of minerals and energy resources, and the study and promotion of landscape and cultural heritage.

The PhD board provides a Doctoral Training Program, consisting of a wide range of first-class teaching activities. Starting from this program, PhD students are strongly encouraged in customizing their personal training path, coherently with the objectives of their specific research project.

The courses will be taken by teachers belonging to the PhD board or by qualified external teachers, and may also be organized as thematic schools and/or workshops. All courses and schools will be open to students from other Italian or international PhD programs, promoting intellectual, scientific and personal exchanges among the participants. Eight courses (on average 3 ECTS each) will be offered, distributed in two periods: First semester (and winter schools), November-February; Second semester (and summer schools), March-October.

The Department of Physics and Geology activated two new MSc courses ("GeoSciences for Risk and Environment Management" and "Geology for Energy Resources"), whose topics effectively interface with the educational objectives of the PhD program. Three courses (6 ECTS each), borrowed from the MSc classes, will be included in the PhD program, aimed to integrate specific training demands.

Seminars and Lectures, on topics not strictly related to the student research projects, will be organized, usually in the period between November 1st and May 31st, aimed at broadening the skills and increasing the awareness of PhD students. The lectures will be given by Italian and foreign qualified experts, by members of the PhD Board, as well as by former PhD students.

The PhD training program will be enhanced by stays at other universities or research institutions, in Italy (for an average period of 3 months) or abroad, both within the institutions involved in the PhD (for an average period of 12 months), and/or in other qualified universities or research institutions (for an average period of 6 months).

The doctoral training program also comprises further activities, shared with other University of Perugia PhD programs, as described in the following.
Disciplinary and interdisciplinary training, advanced linguistic and computing training:
- Foreign language courses at CLA (Centro Linguistico d'Ateneo/University Language Center) according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), of six-month (10 CFU/ECTS) or annual (13 CFU/ECTS) duration;
- Computer lab courses or specific modules (1-2 CFU/ECTS) related to software for data analysis (R, Stata, GIS), word processing programs (LaTeX), specialized software, dedicated to geological data processing;
- Research management, knowledge of research systems and funding systems (1 CFU/ECTS);
- Enhancement of research results and intellectual property (6 courses, each 1 CFU/ECTS each). Each course is focused on the transition from basic research to applied research; research enhancement techniques; the funding of applied research; the protection of intellectual property; the university's actions to promote patents; business creation and research spin-offs. All the courses and modules described in this section require a final check.