General Information on the PhD Programme

General Information on the PhD Programme

The PhD course represents a full-time commitment and essentially consists of conducting original research work, under the supervision of a professor, and writing a thesis on one of the following general topics:

  • food science and technology;
  • genomics, proteomics and metabolomics of species of agricultural interest;
  • multifunctional agriculture;
  • plant and animal production systems, even in urban environment;
  • plant physiology, ecology and biochemistry;
  • plant, animal and microbial biotechnologies;
  • technologies for plant and soil protection and environmental bioremediation.

Currently, over 50 students are attending the doctorate or are waiting for the final exam; ten students come from foreign universities. Each PhD student is supported by two supervisors, at least one of whom belongs to DiSAAA-a. The official language of the PhD course is English.

PhD Board

The PhD Board includes 21 professors of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment and four scientists belonging to other scientific institutions, in Italy and abroad.

The PhD Board (academic year 2023-2024) is coordinated by Prof. Andrea Cavallini and includes:

Agnolucci Monica 050 2216647 Prof. Associato AGR/16
Angelini Luciana G. 050 2218901 Prof. Ordinario AGR/02
Antichi Daniele 0502218962 Prof. Associato AGR/02
Arduini Iduna 050 2218902 Prof. Associato BIO/03
Benelli Giovanni 050 2216141 Prof. Associato AGR/11
Brunori Gianluca 050 2218979 Prof. Ordinario AGR/01
Canale Angelo 050 2216116 Prof. Associato AGR/11
Cavallini Andrea 050 2216663 Prof. Ordinario AGR/07
Gucci Riccardo 050 2216138 Prof. Ordinario AGR/04
Guglielminetti Lorenzo 0502216543 Prof. Associato BIO/04
Guidi Lucia 050 2216613 Prof. Ordinario AGR/13
Massai Rossano 050 2216140 Prof. Ordinario AGR/03
Mele Marcello 050 2218938 Prof. Ordinario AGR/17
Nali Cristina 050 2210552 Prof. Ordinario AGR/12
Natali Lucia 050 2216665 Prof. Ordinario AGR/07
Pardossi Alberto 050 2216526 Prof. Ordinario AGR/04
Pellegrini Elisa 050 2210562 Prof. Associato AGR/12
Pistelli Laura 050 2216536 Ricercatore BIO/04
Raffaelli Michele 050 2218947 Prof. Ordinario AGR/09
Serra Andrea 050 2218949 Prof. Associato AGR/17
Zinnai Angela 050 2216627 Prof. Associato AGR/15
Loconto Allison M. INRA, FRANCE Ricercatore AGR/01
Pezzarossa Beatrice ISE-CNR, Pisa Ricercatore AGR/04
Ruffoni Barbara CREA, Sanremo Dir. di ricerca BIO/03
Scartazza Andrea IRET-CNR, Pisa Ricercatore BIO/04

The representative of the PhD students in the PhD Board for the two-year period 2023-2025 is Dr. Ugo Rogo (XXXVIII cycle,


Training Activities Planned During the PhD Course (2024/2027, XL cycle)

PhD students participate in educational activities such as courses, seminars, summer schools and conferences organized by the University of Pisa or other institutions in Italy or abroad, with a tailor-made teaching plan which aims to enable the PhD student to achieve in-depth knowledge of specific scientific questions and an improvement of his general skills.

In particular, during the first year and the second year, PhD students attend courses and seminars organized partly by the University of Pisa for all its PhD students and partly by this PhD Programme, which offers specific courses for its students:

Name N.  hours Year Teacher Period Note 
English for research publication and presentation purposes 30 first Lecturers of the Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale UNIPI jan-feb 2025 At the Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale UNIPI
Fundamentals of Statistics for Agricultural Research 20 first Prof. Giuseppe Conte apr-may 2025 At the DiSAAA-a
Publishing in International Scientific Journals 10 first Prof. Giovanni Benelli giugno


At the DiSAAA-a
Advances in Agroforestry Systems 24 second To be established may-june 2025 At the DiSAAA-a
Innovative methodologies in Agricultural Sciences 12 second To be established june 2025 At the DiSAAA-a
English for Research Purposes for the 2nd Year PhD candidates 30 second Lecturers of the Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale UNIPI nov-dec


At the Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale UNIPI

Moreover, the PhD students attend the so-called “transversal” teaching activity, organized by the University of Pisa for all its PhD students. The courses will be held approximately in the period January-June 2025. These teaching activities include seminars, laboratory and research activities, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary training. In this context, the courses recommended for PhD students in Agricultural, Food and Agro-environmental Sciences are:

Training type  Description
Seminars Career Labs for Doc: 4 workshops lasting 3 hours each. The objective is to provide the tools to successfully navigate the application process and the selection process in a non-academic field.
Valorization and dissemination of results, intellectual property and open access to research data and products Management of research, knowledge of research systems and financing systems: the objective is to promote entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in PhD students; the diffusion of entrepreneurial culture; how to promote research products.
Valorization and dissemination of results, intellectual property and open access to research data and products Valorization of research results and intellectual property: groups of lessons and/or seminars, concerning for example the activity of the Technology Transfer Office and Personal Branding, for the valorization of PhD students’ skills.
Fundamental principles of ethics, gender equality and integrity Analysis of Gender Issues: groups of lessons and seminars for the development of professional skills relating to gender issues, the (gender) orientation of research and their role in national and European funding programmes.

All PhD students are invited to spend at least six months at high-level research institutions abroad during the second and/or third year of the course. During the internship abroad, a 50% increase in the PhD scholarship is expected.

At the end of each year, each PhD student prepares a report on his research activities and holds a public seminar, in English, which must be evaluated and approved by the PhD Board.

To obtain the title, the candidate must have published at least one article in an indexed scientific journal. At the end of the course the thesis (in English) will be preliminarily evaluated by two external reviewers belonging to other Italian or foreign universities. From 2021 to 2023, DiSAAA-a PhD students have published over 300 research or review articles in scientific journals or conference proceedings. In total, these works have reported over 800 citations to date.

The title of Philosophiae Doctor is awarded after a public examination by a Commission of professors appointed by the PhD Board.

Services for the PhD Students

Operational and scientific structures:

Laboratories Agricultural-chemical analysis laboratory (plant tissues, irrigation water, soils; biochemistry laboratory); Molecular biology laboratory; Botany and applied botany laboratory; Plant physiology laboratory; Agricultural entomology laboratory; Genetics and genomics laboratory; Microbiology laboratory; Optical and electronic microscopy laboratory; Plant pathology laboratory; Food technology laboratory; Animal husbandry laboratory; Experimental stable; In vitro culture Laboratory; Mechanical outhouse.
Bibliographic resources 1,352,143 volumes are available to the students, included in the University’s online catalogue, and can be searched and queried by users at any time and from any location inside or outside the University; they cover all the thematic areas present in the educational offer; for Agricultural Sciences 51,579 volumes are available. The aforementioned books, located in 15 distributed libraries, is almost entirely accessible on open shelves and therefore directly consultable by users and available for loan.
The available journals of specific disciplinary fields amounts to 30,992 titles, of which 1,513 current subscriptions, for a total of 510,229 years. All the journals in the national catalog of ACNP periodicals can be consulted/searched online at any time and from any location, both internal and external to UNIPI. The thematic coverage for the disciplinary areas offered by UNIPI for Agricultural Sciences is divided into 3,032 titles, of which 69 active, and 44,582 years.
E-resources Databases (access to the contents of scientific journals and/or editorial series) In addition to journals of specific disciplinary fields, access is available at campus level to numerous bibliographic and full text databases and to collections of ebooks. The online resources amount to over 50,000 titles, mainly collected in editorial packages, with specialized and multidisciplinary content. Specialist databases for Agricultural Sciences: Agra Europe, Agris, Agricola, CAB Abstracts, Informatore agrario, SciFinder, Sole 24ore, Veterinary Journal
Spaces and resources for PhD students and for computing Free access to all spaces and resources structures including the Piagge Area Polo 5 of the Departmental IT System, which organises, manages and provides the IT and network services also for supporting the teaching and research activities of the departments of reference.

Spaces accessible to libraries for PhD students in the Agricultural Sciences area: 102 places.

Multidisciplinary contracts with international scientific publishers UNIPI stipulates many multidisciplinary contracts with international scientific publishers: Brill, De Gruyter, Cambridge University Press Journals; JSTOR; Nature; Oxford University Press Journals; Science; Science Direct; SpringerLink; Taylor & Francis Journals; Wiley Online Journals. Bibliographic databases; Web of Knowledge, Scopus for bibliographic searches and research evaluation.
Others Spaces and resources for PhD students and for electronic calculation: IT and network services, provided by the Polo 5 of the UNIPI Departmental IT System.

Quality Management

Since 2024, PhD courses are subjected to quality assessment. A Quality Management Commission has been appointed, composed of the coordinator and the vice-coordinator (Proff. Andrea Cavallini and Andrea Serra) and Profs. Lucia Guidi, Elisa Pellegrini and Giovanni Benelli, as well as a representative of the PhD students, Dr. Ugo Rogo. This section will contain (when available) the documents produced by the Commission, the students’ questionnaires and the evaluation forms.

Student Orientation

The PhD Programme presents the course to master’s degree students of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agro-environmental Sciences, during orientation meetings organized by the Department or by the various degree courses. A short brochure describing the doctoral course is available here.

Regulation of the PhD Programme

Link to the Pisa University general PhD regulation

Link to the PhD Programme in Agriculture, Food and Environment regulation