37° Cycle - Call

The Ph.D. students for the 37th cycle will be appointed soon. The call is available at this link.

Topics of main interest for Ph.D. Projects

The Tiber basin is the largest intermontane continental basin along the Apennines, today recognized as a complex depositional system deriving from the coalescence of lacustrine, palustrine, and fluvial environments alternating in space and time. Our knowledge of the tectonic-sedimentary and environmental evolution of the basin is biased by the lack of well-constrained chronological data. We welcome projects aimed at the study/reappraisal of the paleontological features (taxonomy, taphonomy, biochronology, paleobiology, paleoecology) of selected sites in the Tiber basin and neighboring areas. Projects have to focus on macro- and micro-vertebrates and should be carried out also by 3D modeling and analysis. We advocate an interdisciplinary approach with the combination between the collected data and those from paleobotany, sedimentology, magnetostratigraphy, geochronology, etc. The candidate is expected to have solid knowledge on vertebrate paleontology and taphonomy. Basic skills on collection and lab preparation of fossil vertebrates are welcome.

The study of onset and evolution of sedimentary basins in their geodynamic framework, and the characterization of their internal architecture, is a classical and wide geological theme, involving a variety of disciplines and methods, including stratigraphy, sedimentology, structural geology, tectonics and geophysics; and were the basin analysis can be approached also with modern techniques of numerical and/or numerical modelling. All these approaches are welcome for the proposed projects, with a preference for multidisciplinary and multitasking studies, based on the integration of different methods and data-sets, and discussing the possible application to the problems of exploration and of energy resources and to gas and carbon dioxide storage, as contributes to the face the challenges of the energy transition.

Geopolymers, a new environment-friendly cementitious material, are attracting greatly the attention because they can reduce the CO2 emission caused by the cement industry, they can take natural or waste products as the primary raw materials and their physio- chemical properties (fire and chemical corrosion, mechanical strength, durability, flexibility…) are excellent. In particular geopolymers have impressed as a promising material for restoration, both of modern and historical construction. Between the suggested wastes to geopolymer production, recent studies have indicated the earthquake rubbles which, in the affected areas, could allow a local efficient, accountable and sustainable re-use. Projects aimed to study the strengths and weakness of innovative geopolymer based on earthquake rubbles and their performance in the restoration on historical building are welcome. The candidate is expected to have a solid preparation on geomaterials and on the main methodologies for the chemical, physical, mineralogical, mechanical characterizations of solid state materials.

The Quaternary post-orogenic basins located in the Northern Apennines are a unique opportunity for analyzing the evidences and the relationship between the recent and active tectonic evolution and their geomorphological signature. The investigation of the morphostructural and morphometric evidences, already tested in other areas both worldwide and in the Apennines has put in evidence the high potential of the interaction between geomorphology and structural geology supported by field work, quantitative approaches and GIS analysis. To strengthen this line of research we welcome projects with an interdisciplinary approach, aimed at the integration of both long-term structural data, mid-term deformation and geomorphologic evidences coupled with quaternary geochronological data. The candidate should be capable to map features in the field with special reference to Quaternary deposits, to manage digital/analogic aerial photos in photointerpretation means, and to use Geographical Information System for visualize and analyze spatial data. The knowledge of the basis of geomorphometry is welcome.

Temperature is a key factor in all processes affecting the solid Earth but in spite of the existence of high number of measurements of heat flow in the world, the temperature distribution inside Earth is still very uncertain. The problem lies in the impossibility of accessing Earth’s interior, except for shallow depths, causes the temperature to be derived by models that are strongly influenced by the thermal properties of the materials. The Western Umbria region (Central Apennines), thanks to its proximity to the western Tuscan geothermal fields, constitutes a promising area where a low enthalpy geothermal network can be developed. We welcome project aims to create a mapping of the thermophysical properties (thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, density,) of the different rocks constituting the subsoil, to constrain the geothermal calculation and to evaluate the low enthalpy geothermal potential. Candidates are expected to be familiar with numerical modeling and laboratory measurements.

Machine learning (ML) is a sub-field of Artificial Intelligence. It concerns the use of algorithms to detect patterns in large data sets and using these patterns to predict trends, classify, or make strategic decisions. A characteristic of ML tools is that they are not developed to process conceptual models defined a priori. Instead, they attempt to uncover the complexities of large data sets through so-called learning. The goal is to convert experience (i.e., data) into “expertise” or “knowledge”. We welcome projects aimed at investigating pre-eruptive magma storage conditions in volcanic plumbing systems and the processes leading to eruption using classical methods and techniques based on ML. Projects should include how the candidate intends to combine petrological, statistical, and programming (Python is desirable) tools. Also, proposals should include a plan for the analysis of textures and geochemistries (major and trace elements) of eruptive products for one or more study cases.

The project aims to investigate at laboratory and field-scale the soil dynamic, i.e. infiltration and erosion processes. Erosion is essential to be quantified because it is responsible for siltation in water bodies, degradation of lands and quality of lakes and rivers, slope stability, etc. In general, the USLE family models and available distributed models quantify the sediment produced at catchment scale based on rainfall intensity, topography, land use, and agricultural practices. These models need to be tested and calibrated on different spatial scales and weather conditions. The project is part of active collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Food and Environmental Science of Perugia University. Data from an experimental field close to Perugia, coupled with remote sensing data, will be used to reach the project goal.

Ongoing Ph.D. Cycles

  • 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.