Welcome to the PhD Program in Physics website, University of Pisa

The purpose of the PhD Program is advanced training towards frontier research, either fundamental or applied, experimental or theoretical, in a wide selection of subjects where the Physics Department of the University of Pisa and its national and international scientific partners excel at a worldwide level. The main goal of PhD students is to perform original research, achieving scientific independence with an international characterization. Research is performed under the supervision of a tutor, who is defined during the 1st year. These are the main research areas: Applied Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Condensed Matter and Plasma Physics, Experimental Elementary Particle Physics, Theoretical Physics.

Since 2018 the Program runs jointly with INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics). The present Coordinator is prof. M. D’Elia.

The Program is open to graduate students from any University; admittance is by public selection, usually taking place in summer, only students graduating within October can be admitted. A number of three-year grants is available each year, to be assigned to the best-ranking students in the selection; admission with no grant is also allowed for selected students. Students with a grant from national or international organizations which foresees participation to a Ph.D. program can also be admitted.

Students must follow some courses with exams during the first years, they get a small personal research budget and a 50 % increased grant for research periods spent abroad (up to 18 months), which are strongly encouraged. After 3 years, they submit a research thesis, which is refereed by independent experts and then publicly defended; after that, they are awarded the Ph.D. title.

Up to 2012, two different Programs were active, Physics and Applied Physics, which were part of the G. Galilei School of the University of Pisa. After that, the two Programs merged in the present Ph.D. Program in Physics. Previous Coordinators: prof. D. Pisignano (2018-20), prof. M. Sozzi (2012-18), prof. K. Konishi (Physics), prof. F. Pegoraro (Applied Physics).

Educational and training project

The PhD course in Physics at the University of Pisa represents the last educational stage and the first introduction to scientific research, being characterized by a large variety of experimental and theoretical research lines, and allowing PhD students to enter national and international collaborations leading frontier research in various fields. The main research sectors of the Physics Department at the University of Pisa are experimental physics of fundamental interactions, theoretical physics, condensed matter physics, astronomy and astrophysics, applied physics. The first year of the PhD course is dedicated in part to education in a broad sense, with the attendance of two physics courses on specialized subjects, of 40 hours each, as well as with some transectoral courses chosen from a vast offer proposed annually by the University of Pisa (English for Research Publication and Presentation Purposes as well as various courses on Open Access, Soft Skills, Responsible Research and Innovation, Planning for European Research, etc.). Research training also begins during the first year, with the choice of a specific research topic, and the appointment of a supervisor and a co-supervisor for each PhD student. The following two years of the PhD program are entirely dedicated to research activities, stimulating the inclusion of the PhD student in national and international collaborations, as well as her/his involvement in research projects abroad or in Italy.

Great importance is also attributed to the dissemination of research results, both through scientific publications and by requiring that each PhD fellow carries out seminars with an increasing degree of specialization during the years of the course. In particular, in the first year seminar the PhD fellow will provide a general and accessible overview of the state-of-the-art in their research field, with a focus on open and frontier problems that could be approached during the PhD research work. The purpose of the second year seminar is instead to set a milestone for the advance of the research work, by illustrating the already obtained results and the plan for the last year; this seminar is accompanied by a short written document (pre-thesis, around 20 pages) reporting the same information.

Goals of the PhD Course

The main goal is to train PhD students in research, allowing them to enter national and international collaborations thanks also to close interaction and synergy, through closely integrated research groups, with public and private research institutions and with other universities, belonging to the ecosystem of training, research and innovation gravitating around the University of Pisa. These research groups are also able to undertake collaborations with companies with a strong R&D characterization. Particular importance is given to international research, both through collaborations with leading research groups in the respective fields on an international scale, and through visits of PhD students to research centers and scientific laboratories abroad, participation in international conferences, and dissemination of research results through international publications. The main research sectors of the Physics Department, to which the course pertains, are experimental physics of fundamental interactions (elementary particles, astroparticles, gravitational wave physics), theoretical physics in the broadest sense (statistical mechanics, nuclear physics, physics of fundamental interactions), condensed matter (semiconductors, nanomaterials and nanotechnologies, soft matter, advanced microscopies and spectroscopies) and plasmas physics (both theoretical and experimental), astronomy and astrophysics (both theoretical and multimessenger observation), applied physics, with specific applications ranging from acoustic to medical physics, with innovative and environmental characterizations (green).

Expected professional and occupational opportunities

While favouring training for fundamental and applied research in the context of Italian and foreign public and private research institutions, which has so far represented the natural and most frequent employment for doctors from this PhD Course, research training in Physics represents also an important and appreciated aspect in industry in very heterogeneous sectors (advanced manufacturing, electronics, energy, ICT, aerospace, medical, etc.). This aspect is testified by various PhD Theses, already concluded or in progress, which see a close collaboration with companies with a strong vocation for scientific and/or technological innovation. This has represented a second important and by now consolidated professional outlet for PhDs in Physics, many of whom have undertaken careers in companies with a strong R&D characterization. The establishment of the Professional Order of Chemists and Physicists, and the strengthening of collaborations between research institutions and companies envisaged in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, represent further opportunities for professional integration and growth for PhDs.