The AFF PhD program offers two curricula. In each of them research can be conducted at different scales, from the molecular/cellular level to the study of ecosystems, landscape and economical/social systems. Research topics will meet the needs of ongoing research projects (at regional, national and international level) as well as research agreements with private companies.
AGRICULTURAL, FOREST, ANDA ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (AFE)
The curriculum aims to:
- train specialists in plant production and management of field crops, horticulture, livestock production and animal farming;
- promote an in depth understanding of processes that govern natural and forest-dominated landscapes to meet a set of ecological, economic and social criteria in the perspective of long-term environmental sustainability and innovative management strategies.
Several research topics and management problems are addressed in the Agricultural area: the environmental physiology of agricultural plants and crops, and the expression of secondary metabolites; the effect of biotic and abiotic stresses, soil-plant-atmosphere relationships, the impact of climate change on crop production; insect biology and integrated pest control; environmentally sound management of farms and land, sustainable soil management, bioremediation and mitigation; animal farming and welfare, wildlife management; management adaptation strategies to environmental, market and policy change.
Another key mission is to develop basic and applied research in the following areas of Forest Sciences: landscape planning and valorization, rural development; forest certification processes; soil erosion control, watershed hydrology, hydraulics and management; sustainable forest management and forest planning; climate change and land-use change scenarios in Environmentally Sensitve Areas (ESA) at global scale; forest ecology and impact of climate change on ecosystem processes; silvicultural techniques to improve forest condition and ecosystems services; forest fire control, management of protected areas; wood technology, forest harvesting and industries; life cycle assessment of wood products.
FOOD SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING (FSE)
This curriculum is designed to provide students interested in the safety and quality of food with the background necessary for understanding the roles of various members within the food system in ensuring that food is safe and healthful.
The development of innovative technologies by transferring the results of basic research into new technological approaches is one of the key aspects of this module.
Research topics include: characterization of lactic microflora and optimization of media and culture techniques for the production of starter cultures; stress response and aerobic metabolism in lactic acid bacteria; genetic and molecular techniques for the characterization of yeast strains; monitoring and production of secondary compounds related to the organoleptic and healthy quality of fermented beverages; food preservation and packaging; analytical and sensory methods in production processes, shelf-life of food products; extraction of active ingredients from the food industry by-products; green technologies and supercritical fluids technology; development of innovative plant, machine or device for storage and processing of fruits, vegetables, dairy and wine; oil extraction and waste water purification, energy saving and recovering in food processing; new sensors for the on-line process control related to agro-industry plants; organic production and animal welfare; quality of animal-based product and consumer liking; agribusiness management and agri-food chain; food and wine marketing.
This curriculum supports a collaborative international agreement with the Biotechnology PhD program at the Catholic University of Portugal (Porto), fostering students to comply criteria and apply for the European Doctorate at the conclusion of their PhD course.