Priority research topics


(for the list of the potential supervisors please refer to the list of the supervisors and their research activities and publications)

  Agriculture, forest and food economics and policy

  1. Economics and policy for resilient agriculture and forest management.
    Agricultural and forest economics and policy need to be innovated, for more resilient societies in Europe and worldwide. Particular attention is given to the Common Agricultural Policy analysis and other sectoral policies, impact assessments on farms and forest managers' economics, organization and resilience, rural development, market functioning, organic farming, innovative forest management, agri-environmental measures adoption, and risk management strategies and tools. (Rossetto, Trestini, Pagliacci, Stefani, Cei, Giampietri, Pettenella, Masiero, Gatto, Pisani, Grilli, Secco).

  2. The food and the agri-food world.
    Competitiveness and innovation of food products and agri-food chains are crucial to promote food products on global markets. Relevant topics of interest in this research field are: consumers' behaviour towards food quality attributes related to environmental sustainability and production methods (e.g. organic farming), new food products, nutrition and health-related issues, as well as alternative food networks and policy and labelling tools such as food claims, Geographical Indications, property rights protection. (Rossetto, Pomarici, Trestini, Pagliacci, Giampietri, Thiene, Franceschinis, Vecchiato, Tempesta, Stefani, Cei, Paganizza).

  3. The wine market in Italy and worldwide: a sustainability perspective.
    Assessing market dynamics and the impact of sectoral policies on wine economics is crucial to support this relevant sector. International market analysis and the impact of national regulations, taxation, and trade agreement on wine market, as well as organizational factors affecting wine supply chain performance, including quality and quantity policy adopted by producers’ organizations, need to be understood. Factors related to the adoption of more sustainable (environmental and social) solutions and market opportunities for more sustainable grape and wine production need to be identified (Pomarici, Galletto, Rossetto, Trestini, Giampietri).

  4. Advanced methods for land and real estate valuation.
    Innovative methods for the analysis of land and real estate values such as Standard Hedonic Pricing Models, Spatial Autoregressive Models, Quantile Regression, Machine Learning and Big Data analysis have to be developed, tested and applied to deepen the scientific knowledge on their implications and their interactions with environmental quality and environmental policies. (Tempesta, Thiene, Vecchiato, Franceschinis).

  5. Valuing natural resources for more informed decision-making towards sustainability.
    Economic valuation of natural resources, non-market goods, and ecosystem services is functional to provide crucial information to support decisions of both public and private actors. Special attention is given to the demand of nature-based tourist-recreational and cultural ecosystem services, as well as forest-based regulating services considering environmental and social sustainability. (Tempesta, Thiene, Vecchiato, Franceschinis, Gatto, Pettenella, Secco, Grilli, Masiero, Pisani).

  6. Innovations for a forest-based bioeconomy.
    Forests are expected to have a growing role in the bioeconomy at national and global levels. Relevant topics of research interest are related to analysing at the global and local scales the policy framework, market trends, social and environmental responsibility associated with the development of a forest-based bioeconomy, with a focus on innovative wood products (e.g., engineered wood products, man-made cellulose fibers, bioplastics etc.) as well as non-wood (i.e., wild) products and services. (Pettenella, Masiero, Gatto).

  7. Transformative processes and Green Transition in Forests and the Environment.
    The current socio-economic and environmental crises call for an urgent reconceptualization of the relations between natural and institutional-social-human capitals, with special attention to forest resources. Research can contribute through multi-level policy evaluation and governance analysis in urban, peri-urban and rural areas, with a focus on policy instruments coordination, innovative entrepreneurial tools and activities, property rights and other legal- and institutional-related issues. (Gatto, Secco, Pisani, Pagliacci, Masiero, Paganizza).

  Forest ecology and forest management

  1. Forest dynamics and natural disturbance ecology.
    Analysis of forest stands development, assessment and modelling of mortality processes, facilitation and competition mechanisms, and regeneration dynamics in a context of climate change. Old growth forest characterization and identification. Allometric approaches for assessing the degree of disturbance in different forests. Analyses and modelling of natural disturbances impacts in forest ecosystems and post-disturbance dynamics. Soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. (T. Anfodillo, M. Carrer, E. Lingua, G.Petit).

  2. Forest management.
    In a context of global change, implementation of sustainable forest management strategies, adaptive management and  agro-forestry systems for biomass and quality timber production. Management of protected area, forest biodiversity conservation and management both inside and outside Natura 2000 ecological network. Implementing and monitoring silvicultural interventions for natural disturbance prevention and impact mitigation. (T. Anfodillo, E. Lingua, T. Sitzia).

  3. Forest ecology and ecophysiology.
    Plants responses to abiotic and biotic stress analysed using physiological measurements (e.g., sapflow, leaf gas exchange, xylem vulnerability to air embolism), quantitative xylem and phloem anatomy (e.g., number and size of conducting elements, thickness of xylem cell walls), measurements of common morphological traits (e.g., stem diameter, tree height, crown size). Allometric approaches are used to define optimality principles shaping the hydraulic structure of trees (e.g., xylem/phloem widening in leaves, stems, roots) and the structure of forest ecosystem; dendroecological approaches are used to assess climate-growth relationships from time series of tree ring traits. (T. Anfodillo, M. Carrer, D.Castagneri, G.Petit).

  4. Forest analysis.
    Forest structure analysis by LiDAR and optical data, Soil ecology and radiative balance, Analysis of forest parameters using remote sensing and geographic information systems. (F.Pirotti, E.Lingua, A. Zanella).

  5. Geomatics for forest and the environment.
    Measuring via sensing (remote and close-range) of natural and man-made environments; 3D models for virtual/augmented reality of scenery, active (SAR/InSAR/PolSAR/LiDAR) and passive remote sensing for Earth Observation (EO), spatio-temporal analysis of big-data via High Performance Computing applied to sensed data. (F.Pirotti).

  6. Urban forestry.
    Landscape-forest patterns and processes in urban and suburban areas. Urban forests biodiversity and recreational use. (P. Semenzato, T. Sitzia).

  7. Forest landscape restoration.
    Monitoring and assessment of forest recovery and restoration by natural regeneration and afforestation activities. Implementation of restoration strategies using assisted regeneration and applied nucleation concepts. Restoration of forest cover in stands affected by high severity disturbances by using biological legacies. (T. Sitzia, E. Lingua).

  8. Wood technologies.
    Wood characterization and synthesis of bio-based adhesives and preservatives for enhancing its properties by producing eco-friendly but also performing timber composites. Evaluation of the environmental impact of different materials and process through life-cycle assessment  (LCA) tools. (G.Tondi, T.Urso, M.Zanetti).

  9. Forest planning and landscape ecology.
    The study of forest landscape patterns and its relationship with planning and management of land uses in the framework of landscape ecological methods and tools. (E. Lingua, P. Semenzato, T. Sitzia).

  Water resources, land and soil conservation

  1. Erosion, debris flows and sediment transport in mountain watersheds: from processes and landform analysis to risk management, accounting for climate change.
    Monitoring and modeling of landslides, debris flows and debris floods occurrence including the rainfalls and its statistical extremes. Analysis of the impact of these phenomena for the scenario corresponding to the climate change. Risk mitigation measures: from active (early warning system) to passive (open check dams and retention basins). (M.A.Lenzi, L. Picco, V.D’Agostino, C.Gregoretti, M. Borga, P.Tarolli, A.Guarnieri).

  2. Fluvial morphology, riparian vegetation, streams dynamics and restoration.
    Analyses on the morphodynamics of riverine corridors from the mountain to the lowlands. Monitoring of the interactions between riparian vegetation, channel morphology, and fluxes (water, sediment, and wood). Defining mitigation strategies for reducing risks in correspondence of critical sections (ie, bridges and embanked reaches), or to improve the general condition of the overall state of the river system (i.e., restoration). (L.Picco, M.A.Lenzi, V.D’Agostino, C.Gregoretti).

  3. Soil, Water and Society.
    Economic losses caused by hydrological extremes, such as floods and droughts, are exacerbating because of increased anthropogenic activities and global environmental changes. The topic aims to understand how individuals and communities interact with hydrological extremes to develop effective strategies for disaster risk reduction. (P.Tarolli, M.Borga, V.D’Agostino).

  4. Forest hydrology and ecohydrology.
    Analysis of the hydrological response of mountain catchments at the seasonal and event timescale by considering variations due to climate change, monitoring and modeling of water fluxes in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum by using environmental tracers (stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, major ions), analysis of the hydrological connectivity of intermittent streams during dry and wet conditions. (G.Zuecco, M.Borga).

  5. Cryospheric processes and water resources in a warming climate.
    Climatic sensitivity of mountain snow, glaciers and permafrost investigated by historical analyses and reconstructions, current response monitoring, and process understanding. Investigation and modelling of future cryosphere-related changes in water resources, slope instability and environmental conditions. (L. Carturan, M.Borga).

  6. Assessment of drought impact in agriculture: monitoring and mitigation strategies (P. Tarolli, M. Borga, V.D’Agostino).
    The project aims to investigate drought with its possible direct and indirect impacts in agriculture. The research focus ranges from farm to continental scales. Different agricultural landscapes, from lowland areas to steep slopes, will be considered in the analysis. In addition, sustainable solutions for mitigation of impacts and definition of adaptation strategies will be explored, including Nature Based Solutions.

  Technologies and operations for Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Livestock Plants

  1. Sustainable wood harvesting in mountain forests.
    Precision forestry and digital solutions for the implementation of more sustainable wood harvesting operations in mountain forests in the frame of the climate change impacts. Novel applications based on Machine learning and Artificial intelligence are the main stream characterizing the research approach. (Grigolato S., Cavalli R., Marchi L.).

  2. Sustainable and digital approaches to agricultural technologies.
    Precision agriculture and digital solutions in agriculture, viticulture, water, and urban green management for enhancing sustainability in changing climate scenarios. Artificial intelligence and machine learning for advanced operations management and farm machinery. (Sartori L., Bortolini L., Marinello F., Sozzi M.).

  3. Development of mechanical and digital technologies to enhance food quality.
    Novel application of mechanical devices, sensors, digital solutions, and data analysis to increase safety, security, and nutrient profile of foods. More sustainable food production processes through the application of technology. (Guerrini L.).

  4. Innovative Systems/Technologies in Livestock and Bioenergy Production.
    Precision Livestock Farming (PLF), Digital and Automated Technologies for increased efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Bioresource Management and Valorisation (Bioenergy and sustainable biorefinery approaches) from agricultural and livestock systems. Utilisation of Remote Sensing and Spatial Data in Livestock/Energy Bioresource Supply Chain Research. (Pezzuolo A.).

  Enology, food quality and nutrition

  1. Novel foods, food processing and nutrition.
    Development of novel foods. Novel bioactive food ingredients.  Functional properties of food macromolecules; Innovative techniques for food production and preservation; Food physics and rheology. Sensory analysis. Food and nutrition: food digestibility, functional and fortified foods. (G. Pasini, A. Curioni, G. Lomolino, M.Marangon).

  2. Comprehending and managing wine quality.
    Wine macromolecules and colloids. Wine stability. Sustainable wine production systems. Innovation in sparkling winemaking. Proteomics and metabolomics of grapes and wines. Enological potential of disease-resistant grape varieties. Wine sensory analysis. Novel processing aids and additives for winemaking. Data management. (A. Curioni, S. Vincenzi, G. Lomolino, M. Marangon, R. Flamini).

  3. Circular economy for the food and wine sectors.
    Valorization of by-products from the agri-food sector: novel extraction methods, chemical and functional characterization of extracts and their use as a source of novel food ingredients. (A. Curioni, S. Vincenzi, G. Lomolino, M. Marangon, G. Pasini).

  Forest Pathology

  1. Engineered mycelium-based composite materials for environmental sustainability.
    Mycelium-based materials have the potential to contribute to the circular bioeconomy by replacing petroleum-based products and converting lignocellulosic wastes into value-added products. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  2. Patterns of invasive forest pathogens dispersal by insects.
    The spread of fungal pathogens relies on complex interactions between host, vector (passive or active) and pathogen. Invasive insect-vectored pathogens pose one of the greatest threats to forest ecosystems. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  3. The impact of climate change on forest tree diseases.
    Environmental changes are occurring on a global scale, but their effects are most pronounced in climate change hotspots. In the Mediterranean area canker causing agents such as Botryosphaeriaceae seem to thrive under warmer and drier conditions. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  4. Emerging Phytophthora-related diseases in the subalpine European vegetation.
    The recent discovery of new Phytophthora species and diseases in alpine and subalpine ecosystems in Europe is of great concern. More explorations in the canopies of shrub and trees are needed to elucidate the diversity, host associations and Phytophthora lifestyles in these as yet under-explored habitats. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).