PhD in Molecular Sciences for Earth and Space

The Ph.D. program, jointly offered with the Scuola Normale Superiore, aims to provide the critical tools to understand several aspects of Molecular Sciences applied to the study of Earth and Space, with particular emphasis on climate changes and the underlining processes of life origin and evolution.

Relevant topics in these fields are: the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter and how the collected data can provide a direct knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere and space, the processes of molecule formation in space and the conversion and evolution of molecules towards complex systems, including also the transformation and destruction of molecules, the chemical reactivity in the Earth’s atmosphere, taking into account the atmospheric pollution.

Molecules, ubiquitous in the universe and in the atmospheres of planets (including Earth), are the ideal proxy for these studies.

Thus, the main Ph.D. program topics are:

  • experimental and theoretical laboratory studies, ranging from organic synthesis to spectroscopy, from chemical reactivity to photochemistry, including also non-equilibrium processes;
  • astronomical observations and studies to interpret the acquired data, ranging from the identification of molecules in the interstellar medium to the characterization of the atmospheres of planets;
  • astronomical/astrochemistry modeling, ranging from techniques for the abundance analysis of chemical species in several astrophysical environments to the derived comprehension of their physical properties;
  • modeling of chemistry in the Earth’s troposphere and in stratosphere.

Relying on these solid grounds, the Ph.D. program offers a research track based on the methodological foundations of Molecular Sciences, pursuing the following goals:  

  • promoting and hosting very innovative research projects, adopting a multidisciplinary approach for the study of astrochemistry, astrobiology, and atmospheric chemistry;
  • welcoming international and Italian junior and senior scholars, with the aim of boosting all types of collaborations and building up a critical mass of researchers;
  • purchasing and managing advanced high-performance computing and spectroscopic instrumentations;
  • organizing scientific events and international and national workshops, by also engaging Institutions, Industry, and experts in the field;
  • acquiring research projects and grants from public and private, national and international companies.
  • promoting agreements and contracts with R&D centers, institutions, and private companies, in Italy and abroad, working in the field.   

Ph.D. Scholarships

Every academic year, via a public competition, SSM provides 4 scholarships, gross amount of 19.000 EUR, plus additional other 2 founded by Scuola Normale Superiore of the same amount, to attend the program. Additional scholarships can be added based on bilateral agreements with other academic and research institutions.

The total amount of each scholarship is increased to promote research activities in Italy and abroad.    


The admission to the Ph.D. program is granted after passing a public competition based on qualifications and examinations. To apply to the competition is required a Master Degree (Laurea Magistrale), or an equivalent title obtained in Italy or abroad.

The examination is based on the evaluation by the review board, of qualifications, recommendation letters, a research statement, and a final oral exam in English. A short list of applicants, admitted to the final oral exam, will be published in advance.

The number of available positions is decided every year from the SSM decisional board as reported in the public call (bando).

prof. Vincenzo Barone

Vincenzo Barone

Sergio Rampino

Marco d’Ischia

Paola Manini

Concetta Giancola

Mauro Causà

Nadia Rega

Alessio Petrone

Marco Trifuoggi

Giovanni Talarico

Ana Belen Munoz Garcia

Cristina De Castro

Cristina Puzzarini
Università di Bologna

Carlo Adamo
Chimie Paris Tech Francia

Malgorzata Biczysko
University of Shanghai, Cina

Paola Caselli
Max Planck, Garching, Germania

Josè Cernicharo
ICMM-CSIC, Madrid, Spagna

Joseph Francisco
University of Pennsylvania, USA

Under construction

Under construction

Under construction

Under construction

The following activities are managed in concert with the other SSM PhDs’ programmes.

Language courses: Italian language courses for foreigners, as well as English, French, German and Spanish are offered by the Centro Linguistico di Ateneo..
Computer skills: The School organises short courses to train PhD students in the critical use of digital resources and familiarise them with tools such as reference and source managers.
Management of research, knowledge of research systems and funding sources: The School organises training activities on funding opportunities .

Enhancement of research results and intellectual property: The School organises activities on the dissemination of scientific research, the protection of research results and authors, the protection of intellectual property and patenting procedures in the national and international field.

The research activity is carried out by each PhD student under the supervision of a thesis director chosen from among the members of the Scientific Board. The thesis director designated by the Board can be joined by a second director from within or outside the Board, possibly also activating a co-tutelle agreement.

The transition from the first to the second year will be decided on the basis of the presentation of an expanded research project including a state-of-the-art and a three-year work plan discussed in an interview which normally takes place in October. In addition to the discussion of the project itself and the papers prepared by them for the attended seminars and courses, the students will also present and discuss the bibliography relevant to their research.

The transition from the second to the third year will be based on the discussion and approval of an indicative but detailed outline of the thesis that the doctoral student proposes to draft and a chapter.

The transition from the third to the fourth year will take place on the basis of the presentation and discussion, and therefore the approval by the director of the thesis, of a further chapter of this and a detailed index.

Under construction

Under construction

– Physical and Theoretical Chemical Laboratory, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

– King’s College London, UK

– Astronomy Department, UCL, UK

– Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitat Hannover, Germany

– Université Gustav Eiffel, France

– Université de Rennes 1, France

– Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany

– Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Germany

– 6Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany

– ELTE Eötvös Lorànd University, Budapest, Hungary

– Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

– Universidad de Valladolid, Spain

– Chongqing University, Chongqing, China

– University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Length of the programme: 4 years

Scholarship: each year the SSM advertises six scholarships amounting to € 19.000 gross per year.

In addition to the scholarship, each student receives a research allowance.


SSM - Scuola Superiore Meridionale