PhD Course

Animal and food science

Thematic area Life Sciences
Duration 3 years
Language English
PhD Programme Coordinator Angela Trocino

The program aims at training PhD students able to provide effective answers to the complex problems of the agro-food production chains by the optimization of production processes and the use of advanced technologies.

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The PhD program in Animal and Food Science offers excellent and stimulating working conditions and international collaborations. Thanks to its interdisciplinary core, the PhD program proposes research projects in different fields spacing from animal sciences and technologies to food sciences and technologies, agricultural microbiology, agricultural chemistry. The PhD program has strong cooperation with several Universities across the world, Italian and European organizations, private companies, and public institutions that allow students for joint research activities and internships in national and international projects.
The program aims at training PhD students able to provide effective answers to the complex problems of the agro-food production chains by the optimization of production processes and the use of advanced technologies coherently with Smart Agrifood. Graduated PhD will use their scientific approach in data management and analysis for big data and automated systems (Industry 4.0) to achieve different objectives like the improvement of genetic traits, feeding and rearing practices of farmed animals; increasing the value of farm production and product quality; implementation of sustainable practices; protection of animal welfare and biodiversity. They will be able to undertake positions related to the technical-scientific management and coordination, research and development, innovation, and applied research in private companies, public institutions, and Universities in Italy and abroad.

Training activities of each PhD student are planned and coordinated with his/her supervisor consistently with the Educational Offer of the PhD program in the Individual PhD Training program, which is submitted to the PhD Council for approval three months after the start of the Ph.D. program. The Educational Offer of the PhD program includes specific disciplinary training activities as well as cross-curricular training activities and soft skills. Each PhD students must get 13 ETCS out of the Educational Offer of the Course. The teaching activities are shared by the PhD Courses of the School of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Padova and are given in English by teachers from UNIPD and from abroad.

During the first year, the PhD students attend the teaching activities corresponding to the minimum ECTS requirements. During the second year, secondments abroad and presentation of preliminary results at national and international congresses are previewed. The third year is mainly addressed to the writing of scientific papers for indexes journals and writing the PhD thesis.
The research lines of the PhD Program are linked to those of the National Industrial Plan 4.0 as well as the National Research Plan and the National Resilience and Recovery Plan. They address the objectives European Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork strategy. They directly and indirectly contribute to different Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 (Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 3: Good health and well-being; Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth; Goal 12: Responsible production and consumption; Goal 13: Climate action; Goal 14: Life below water; Goal 15: Life on land).

The research lines pursued within the PhD program address public and private interests (environmental sustainability, animal welfare, genetic improvements in animals and plants, production processes and product quality) which affect several low- and medium-size companies, as individuals or cooperatives, as well as big-size companies. Automation of productive processes, use of Big Data to analyse data collected from populations or from automatic devices, sensors and analytical instruments, precision livestock farming and smart food production are research topics of the PhD program.

The PhD program has an interdisciplinary nature and its research lines stand in the areas of Animal science and technologies, Food science and technologies, besides Agricultural microbiology and chemistry. The PhD activities within the different research areas are integrated in common training programs and share collaborative research activities.

Research groups in Animal Sciences work on genetic improvement, nutrition, management, health, and welfare of domestic and wild animals. The research aims to implement the best production practices and to increase food quality and the environmental sustainability of animal farming.
The main research topics address:

  • study of animal production systems, animal feeding and nutrition and efficient use of natural resources, efficiency and quality of productions in the frame of a sustainable livestock precision farming;
  • genetic variability in animal populations, methods for genetic/genomic evaluation and selection of animal populations, conservation of animal genetic resources;
  • control of the production chain and traceability of animal food products, including the use of molecular techniques.

Research teams in Food Sciences work on food safety, nutraceutical, novel food production, valorisation of traditional food products. They pay great attention to the global impact of food production in terms of environmental protection, production sustainability, by-product valorisation, and consumer perception.
The research topics address:

  • study of the productive processes and microbiological, technological, nutritional, healthy, and organoleptic traits of raw and processed food under different processing and storage conditions;
  • valorisation of food by-products, study of allergens and digestibility of raw and processed vegetable products, quality improvement of wine and alcoholic beverages.

The research teams in Agricultural Chemistry aim to enhance and protect the agro-biodiversity as well as to promote sustainable rural practices consistently with the research groups working in Animal and Food Science. The main research topics address:

  • study of chemical, biochemical, physiological, genetic, molecular, biotechnological, pedological and ecological traits of the soil-water-plant-atmosphere ecosystem in agricultural forestry and anthropogenic contexts;
  • improvement and protection of agricultural biodiversity;
  • quality and safety of agro-food production systems;
  • promotion of rural sustainable environments.

The PhD program train professionals with the knowledge and competencies to be able to manage successfully complex production systems. Career opportunities are:

  • as researchers in animal science and technologies, food science and technologies, agricultural microbiology and agricultural chemistry in Universities, national and international public and private research centres. The PhD of the Course recently graduated have been hired as researchers and/or professors at the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh, Guelph University in Canada, Denmark University, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA; North Carolina University), Mexico City University, Sylhet Agricultural University in Bangladesh, besides at the Universities of Firenze, Padova, and Parma in Italy;
  • professional positions as research managers in research centres of farmer associations; national and regional offices for the management of agro-environmental resources; international, national and regional institutions addressing agro-food and animal production development, besides environmental protection and management;
  • leading positions in private companies (feed producers, processing plants, cheese maker plants, large distribution, agro-food and wine companies), cooperatives, and corporations of producers;
  • private practitioners.


PhD Program Animal and Food Science
DAFNAE - Dipartimento di Agronomia, Animali, Alimenti, Risorse naturali e Ambiente
viale dell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro
tel. +39 049 8272617

Angela Trocino (Coordinator)

Rosalba Moro (Administrative secretariat)