Description of 36 cycle scholarships (2020-2023)

The scholarships are listed in the official PhD Program site:

19 scholarships are offered in the 36-th cycle, here is a short description of the research themes. Students will be asked to select one or more scholarships during the oral examination

Scholarship 1: Solid Earth physics

All aspects of solid earth geophysics, such as seismology, volcanism physics, geodesy, quantitative geodynamics and tsunami

This scholarship is open to any research topic in the field of solid Earth Physics.
The scholarship is funded by the University of Bologna, through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Scholarship 2: Physics of the Atmosphere and Meteorology

Infrared remote sensing and derivation of atmospheric properties

This topic covers atmospheric radiative transfer and remote sensing, applied to the retrieval of optical and physical properties of clouds and atmosphere,  with focus on the whole infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The successful candidate will focus on modelling of high spectral resolution radiances in multiple conditions and in the implementation and refinement  of retrieval algorithms designed for current and future satellite sensors. The successful candidate will be working with a highly motivated research team currently involved in several international research programs.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Bologna, through the Department of Physics and Astronomy,

Scholarship 3: Political and social Sciences

Climate change and societal challenges: policies, communication and risk management

This topic covers the connections between Climate Change and Social Change in their different dimensions: the narratives attached to Climate Change and their impact on social and political debates; the impact of Climate Change on individual and collective behavioral patterns; the institutions and policies devised to face the challenges of Climate Change.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Bologna through the Department of Political and Social Sciences.

Scholarship 4: Cultural heritage

Influence of climate change on degradation mechanisms of the constituent materials of cultural heritage infrastructures

Outdoor Cultural Heritage (CH) suffers severe damage due to the interaction among physical and chemical atmospheric factors. Nevertheless the worldwide decrease of SO2 cocentrations, the relative enrichment in NOx, O3 and PM and more generally, the local variations in terms of multi-pollutants combined with Climate Change effects, create more and more aggressive scenarios affecting the mechanisms of decay of CH materials, from stones to metals.

The evolution in the use of energy sources and in the management of environmental resources, guided by laws and regulations, has a big impact on the preservation of outdoor CH.

These challenging issues  develop within a context of great interest and urgency, as suggested by UNESCO (

This doctoral research aims at studying the mechanisms of degradation, fostered by climate change, of the CH materials, starting from metals and stone, and then extending to other classes of materials. To this purpose, updated environmental parameters will be included in protocols of materials ageing and testing and prediction of future scenarios will be attempted (through modeling) in order to fine-tune conservative and preventive strategies.

A successful candidate should have good degree qualifications at master level, and laboratory experience. (S)he should be able to demonstrate knowledge in the field of Environmental Chemistry and Physics as well as in Materials Science. (S)he should have excellent written and spoken English. With a strongly interdisciplinary approach, (s)he must be prepared to conduct experimental and theoretic research as well as modeling, and to carry out research as part of a team based in the Department of Cultural Heritage in Ravenna and Department of Industrial Chemistry in Bologna and Rimini.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Bologna.

Scholarship nb 5: Interdisciplinary oceanography

Coupled numerical modeling of the circulation and marine biogeochemical cycles

The research activities  consider the study and the analysis of numerical simulations carried out with numerical midels of the marine biogeochemical cycling. Numerical models couple the ocean physical dynamics with the chemical and biological processes defining the overall marine ecosystem processes.Particular emphasis is put on on the understanding and assessment of the role played by the coupled physical-biogeochemical functioning of the marine environment in the general Earth system, with particular reference to climate dynamics.The research work will exploit numerical tools and experience developed in the field by the Interdisciplinary Oceanography group of the  Università di Bologna University at the Physics and Astronomy Department. 
The successful candidate is expected to  have experience in numerical modeling and knowledge of the main interactions among marine physical and bigeochemical dynamics. She/He will (under doctoral guidance ) carry out the implementation of the existing model tools and will face a specific and relevant  aspect of the coupled functioning of the marine ecosystem.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Bologna and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Scholarship 6: Coastal oceanography

Numerical coastal modelling for coupled  circulation and sediment transport processes

Coastal erosion and its connection to climate change is one of the topics of this fellowship which will develop the basic understanding on how different environmental conditions in the present and future climate will affect the sediment transport along the Emilia Romagna coastal strip. Numerical modelling with innovative unstructured grid models will be used to carry out numerical simulations to test "what if" scenarios and assess impacts at the coasts.

Other possible topics are: - multimodel ensemble and probabilistic coastal early warning systems for the Emilia Romagna coasts, including  video-monitoring image processing to identify alert thresholds; - implementation of a biogeochemical model in the Goro Lagoon (northern part of the Emilia Romagna coastal strip).

The scholarship is co-financed by Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPAE) of the Emilia-Romagna region and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The successful applicant will work in Bologna both at the Department Laboratory and at the ARPAE offices.

Scholarship 7: Solid Earth Physics and applications

 Artificial intelligence applied to SAR images for the identification of landslide processes

Landslides are a widespread problem around the world and constitute a major hazard causing, among other great damages, casualties and loss of properties thus undermining the economy of the affected sites. Identification of areas prone to landslides and monitoring of landslides activity is a serious and necessary endeavor which, however, is difficult to realize on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, Italy is hit by these catastrophic events and the Apennines, characterized by many clayey and marly soil formations, are a problematic area of particular relevance. Space geodetic techniques, such as the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and InSAR (Interferometric SAR), are nowadays commonly applied to watch local landslides events. This approach, which requires extensive computational efforts and installation of ad hoc networks in the case of GPS, can hardly be generalized to create continuous surveillance of vast areas or regions. To overcome these inherent limitations, the possibility to automatically detect land surface changes/triggering patterns related to landslides from repeated passes of satellite SAR data is being investigated basing on supervised neural networks.

The scholarship is financed by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and it will be carried out at the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Scholarship 8: Solid Earth Physics and applications

Effect of the seasonal variation of the soils on seismic microtremor: seismo-stratigraphic implications.

The amplitude of seismic microtremor at one site varies with the power of the seismic sources (atmospheric perturbations, anthropic activity, etc.). In 1971 Nogoshi and Igarashi realized that the spectral ratio between the horizontal and the vertical components (H/V) of ambient noise acquired at one site was a rather stable function, that seemed not to depend on the sources but exclusively on the site features. In 1989 Nakamura attributed to this H/V function the capability to show the SH-wave resonances of the underlying soil, by means of its peaks. In a few years, the microtremor H/V technique became a worldwide used technique to assess the seismic amplification potential of soils. However, in the following years, a number of empirical observations and numerical models found that H/V peaks could also be explained in terms of Rayleigh and Love waves, rather than in terms of S waves. At present, the H/V peaks are defined as of ‘stratigraphic origin’ when they are associated to a local minimum in the vertical spectral component, which is clearly an unexpected behavior for a resonance. In fact, under this interpretation, H/V peaks would only be indirect indicators of resonances. 
We propose to collect further empirical evidences about the nature of the H/V peaks (real resonances of body waves? Features depending on surface waves? Other hypotheses?). In the near surface geophysics, and particularly in the upper few tens of meters of the Earth surface, the shear wave velocity of sediments (Vs) can be very low, even more than one order of magnitude compared to P wave velocity (Vp). This is the case when the water table is present. 
The Vp/Vs ratio is known to largely affect the ellipticity of Rayleigh waves while it should leave S waves unaffected. Studying the amplitude variations of the H/V function over time, at sites were we expect large variations of the water table level, is a mean to experimentally assess the origin of the microtremor H/V peaks. This has a number of relevant effects both on the seismic amplification studies (e.g. seismic microzonations) and on the stratigraphic reconstructions of the subsoils performed by inverting the H/V curves.

The scholarship is financed by the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Bologna.

Scholarship 9:  Chemistry for sustainable development

Separation and recycling of metals in electrical and electronic equipment waste

This research topic is concerned with the implementation of chemical processes for the recovery and valorization of materials containing valuable metals, presently not recycled due to technical or economic barriers. The research work will consist in the chemical characterization of wastes or by-products, identification, separation and purification of elements or compound of interests, in order to increase the recovery rate and decrease the dependency on the import of primary resources.

A general assessment of the sustainability of recycling and recovery processes will be carried out from a life cycle perspective, and flows and stocks of the chosen metals will be considered on a regional and global scale, according to a Material Flow Analysis approach. The candidate will work in Rimini at the research laboratory of the Industrial Chemistry department.

The scholarship is co-funded by the Department of Chemistry and Department of Industrial Chemistry of the University of Bologna.

Scholarship 10: Cultural Heritage

Anthropology of climate finance

The candidate’s research will contribute to the project ‘The Hau of Finance: Impact Investing and the Globalization of Social and Environmental Sustainability’ (IMPACT HAU), funded by ERC consolidator grant 772544 (
Investors and entrepreneurs increasingly collaborate with civil society actors to do the work of sustainable development using private capital. IMPACT HAU will assess whether, and where, this tendency may represent a cultural shift, what it entails, and how far-reaching and heterogeneous it is. Through exchange theory we frame the study of impact investing beyond capitalism, treating impact bonds as ethnographic objects. We will use fine-grained ethnographic research to assess whether impact investing is merely opening new frontiers for financialization and deepening the political crisis of the developed world, or whether indeed it is helping to bring about the radical transitions that can lead to greater sustainability.

The candidate will undertake a PhD in economic anthropology, engaging with ecological economics, to investigate the use of financial technology for impact investing and green finance, (e.g. the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology in the issue of green bonds), in order to evaluate its role in addressing social and environmental problems associated with climate change. The successful candidate must have good degree qualifications to masters level, including training in anthropological theory and ethnography, and must be able to demonstrate excellent writing skills in sample essays submitted with the application. (S)he should be able to show some knowledge of the field and, preferably, have some relevant experience. (S)he must have excellent written and spoken English, and knowledge of any other languages relevant to the PhD proposal. (S)he must be prepared to conduct research as part of a team based in the Department of Cultural Heritage in Ravenna.

The Department of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna is a thriving and engaged interdisciplinary environment where social and cultural anthropology recently joined archaeology, history, physical anthropology, art history, ecology, musicology and classics. The department is growing (with plans to develop anthropology in particular), and is situated in the university’s peaceful and beautiful Ravenna campus. In line with the University of Bologna’s policies of dynamic internationalization, and of equal opportunities, international applications are especially encouraged, as are female applicants, and those from ethnic and other minorities.

Scolarship 11: Solid Earth Physics

Analysis and modeling of multimodal data for the solid Earth

This scholarship is open to any research project aiming at analyzing and modeling large sets of data useful to improve the understanding of physical processes in the solid Earth.

The scholarship is funded by the Department of Physics and Astronomy within the Open Physics Hub (OPH) project (PSSD).

Scholarship 12: Industrial scholarship

This industrial Scholarship is offered by the Fondazione Centro EuroMediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) for its personnel.

Scholarship 13: Climate downscaling and oceanography

Downscaling of seasonal forecasts for ocean coastal areas

 This research topic is concerned with the development and implementation of new coupled seasonal met-ocean predictions  in coastal areas. The activities will exploit the exixting Copernicus Climate Service (C3S) Seasonal Forecasting products, developed by CMCC and downscale them by means of statistical and deterministic (with numerical models) approaches in the coastal and marine domains. The numerical models to be used for the ocean will be the new generation unstructured grid models capable of resolving the coastal geometry in details. The skill of the downscaled seasonal coastal forecast will be assessed with observations and user-relevant indicators will be developed for Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). The coastal seasonal forecasting system will provide the ECV indicators  will be selected in order to show improved ecosystem  and risk management on the basis of the forecasts.

This scholarship is funded by the Fondazione CMCC (Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici) and the successful applicants will carry out the research in Lecce, after the general courses/training period in Bologna. The Lecce laboratory:

Scholarship 14: Oceanography and marine pollution

Marine pollution modeling and risk mapping

Oceanographic monitoring and modeling will be used to study the pathways and fate of marine pollutants such as hydrocarbons and marine litter. The activities will consider advanced modelling methods and risk mapping techniques related to tracing pollutants on local and regional scales. The PhD will also consider the coupling of pollutants models with meteo-oceanographic fields from operational oceanography products such as Copernicus Marine Monitoring Environment Service and downscaled high resolution limited area systems.  Ensemble and multi-model methods, risk assessment and eventually decision support systems will be developed. Integration of modelling and observing systems for model validation will be carried out. The Phd will further develop the MEDSLIK-II oil spill community model ( and the CMCC marine litter model. Possible key questions are identified as follows: Which factors affect the dispersion of the pollutants in the marine environment? What happens to the contaminants on the ocean’s surface, in the water column and the sediments? How do marine pollutants interact with marine habitats? How do they influence marine and maritime resources? What is the rate of fragmentation, biofouling, and sedimentation of plastics? What are the mechanisms of beaching, seabed deposition?

This scholarship is funded by the Fondazione CMCC (Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici) and the successful applicant will carry out the research in Lecce, after the general courses/training period in Bologna. The Lecce laboratory:

Scholarship 15: Ocean predictions

Wave induced mixing processes and their parameterization in coupled wave-current numerical models

This PhD research scholarship deals with the understanding of wave induced mixing processes and their parameterizations in numerical ocean models. The final objective is to improve the coupled wave-current numerical model of the Mediterranean Sea in hindcast and forecasting mode. This project is connected to the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (

The fellowship is sponsored by the EuroMediterranean Center on Climate Change Foundation (CMCC,, Ocean Modeling and Data Assimilation Division located in Bologna, and the work will be carried out there.

This scholarship is funded  by the Foundation CMCC (Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici), Ocean Modeling and Data Assimilation Division located in Bologna and the successful applicant will carry out the research in Bologna. The Bologna Laboratory:

Scholarship 16: Atmospheric Physics and pollution

Study of short-lived polluting compounds in the atmosphere

The research project concern the study of short lived polluting compounds in the atmosphere, in particular the absorbing fraction of aerosol particles. Atmospheric aerosols, especially in the accumulation mode, are efficient scatterers of solar radiation because their size is of the same order as the wavelength of radiation; some aerosol particles, such as soot and black carbon, also absorb radiation, with a significant impact on Earth radiative budget. Black carbon has several warming effects on Earth and also impacts human health, causing human morbidity and premature mortality.

In this project several measurement technologies for black carbon/absorption coefficient will be adopted and intercompared for a comprehensive absorption characterization of anthropogenic and natural aerosols, utilizing urban and remote stations of the ISAC CNR. In-situ instrumentation and methods can be used to assess the relationship between absorption and BC mass concentration at representative sites for a better determination of the BC mass absorption cross section (MACBC), which depends on a wide variety of additional variables such as the size, morphology and mixing state of the particles, amount of scattering material, and relative humidity.

This scholarship is funded by ISAC-CNR and the successful applicant, after the courses/training period, will carry out the research at the CNR-ISAC laboratories in Bologna. The Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (CNR-ISAC) aims at an integrated scientific understanding of the atmosphere, the ocean and their processes, by means of a multidisciplinary approach which combines scientific and technological skills in meteorology, climate, atmospheric dynamics and composition, Earth observations; it develops basic research, theoretical, experimental and numerical, and modeling work together with impact evaluation.
ISAC is the largest CNR Institute on atmospheric sciences, structured in 7 Units over the country, 7 permanent observatories, including 3 Global Stations of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) program of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and 2 atmospheric research Supersites.
ISAC is recognised internationally through its collaboration with a large number of European laboratories, and research centers worldwide.

Scholarship 17: Historical Seismology

Reconstruction of the material and social impact of extreme natural events of the past (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, meteorological events, etc.)

This PhD research scholarship aims at studying extreme natural events of the past, in particular earthquakes. Historical research will aim to document the material impact of the earthquakes that will be investigated, with the tools of quantitative historical research, while studying the impact on society, cultural responses, communication dynamics. The in-depth study of earthquakes and other extreme natural events will provide an opportunity to investigate which cultural resources societies put in place to deal with these events.

A successful candidate should have some experience of working with the tools of historical research and the willingness to deal with different research environment.

The scholarship is funded by INGV and the successful applicant, after the courses/training period, will carry out the research at the INGV Laboratory in Bologna.

Scholarship 18: Industrial scholarship

This industrial scholarship is offered by CURTI Costruzioni Meccaniche S.p.a. for its personnel.

Scholarship 19: Sustainable agriculture

Innovative technologies for urban agriculture.

This topic covers the design and implementation of experimental activities toward the identification of innovative technologies for plant cultivation in the urban environment. Of particular interest will be the implementation of decision support systems (DSS) for precision farming under protected cultivation. The candidate will be able to perform research in pilot indoor vertical farming systems, where highly technological solutions (including hydroponics, artificial lighting and optical sensors) will allow to efficiently monitor plant growth and resource use efficiency. The research will then allow for identifying sustainable management protocols in indoor farming, also through definition of environmental assessment indicators (e.g. through Life Cycle Analysis and Life Cycle Costing tools).

The successful candidate will be working with a highly motivated and international research team currently involved in several international research programs, including the EU-H2020 Project FoodE (Food Systems in European Cities,

The scolarship is funded by the H2020 project "Food Systems in European Cities", through the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences,