Research lines

​The research lines developed within the Chemistry Curriculum of the PhD programme in Chemical, Geological and Environmental Sciences are expression of commitment of the community of chemists at Milano – Bicocca towards interdisciplinary themes. In such context, most of the themes below reported regard the chemistry of bioactive compounds, as well as environmental and materials chemistry issues. This reflects the tradition of chemical research at the University of Milano – Bicocca, which has been developing along such lines in the twenty-year history of the Institute.

Active research lines are the following:​

Mechanistic insights in the carbon dioxide reduction process as catalyzed by metalloenzymes nitrogenases and hydrogenases. Rational design, synthesis and biological characterization of new drug leads for cancer immunotherapy and heart failure. Synthesis of smart nanovectors for drug targeting and delivery, and synthesis of glycomimetics as diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Design and synthesis of nanoparticles for multimodality imaging of insulin producing pancreatic cells. Computational modelling of the Cu beta-amyloid peptide system in the neurochemistry of Alzheimer's disease. Synthesis of enzyme inhibitors as potential therapeutics and biomaterial design for regenerative medicine and drug delivery. Computational modeling of biphasic systems consisting of amphiphilic surfactants in aqueous environment for applications in metal-catalyzed organic syntheses. Investigation on electron bifurcation, a recently discovered enzymatic mechanism for energy conversion: gaining insights into the relation between enzymes structures and activity as a premise toward design of synthetic devices for technological applications. Design and synthesis of new polymers for advanced organoids and 3D printed tissue models. Advanced bioanalytical techniques for drug discovery, drug delivery and diagnostics.

Computational study of spectroscopic properties in compounds of applicative interest for upconversion processes via triplet-triplet annihilation. Synthesis of metal clusters, as a molecular approach to atomically precise nanostructures. Chemistry and hygroscopicity of atmospheric aerosol. Applications to climate change and cultural heritage conservation. Theoretical studies of enzymatic and biomimetic catalysts for sustainable applications in prevention and abatement of air pollution. Organic chemistry for the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass-based materials. Development and validation of new analytical methods for the identification of emerging pollutants and their degradation products in the environment. Chemometrics and machine learning methods to develop QSAR models for chemical/environmental/toxicological applications. 

Synthesis and structural, optoelectronic and functional characterization of inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic materials for new generation solar cells. Three-dimensional nanoporous dynamic polymers for CO2 capture and CH4 and H2 storage. Inorganic and polymeric thermoelectric materials: Preparation and analysis of transport properties. Synthesis and structure/functional characterization of polymer and composite electrolytes for fuel cells. Synthesis and characterization of aromatic and heteroaromatic systems (polyfluorurated included) with potential application in the materials science and biology fields. Computational study of defective and nanostructured oxide surfaces and oxide heterojunctions. Preparation and characterization of inorganic thin films for photovoltaic applications. Synthesis by soft-chemistry and functional characterization of inorganic pure and hybrid materials for energy saving. Multiscale modelling stimuli-responsive hybrid bioinorganic nanodevices for medical applications. Development of new sustainable methodologies for the preparation of organic semiconductors in water solution of industrial and aromatic surfactants.


For any information on the curriculum research lines, contact:

Responsible for the Curriculum in Chemical Sciences (and deputy director): Prof. Davide Ballabio

Director: Prof. Marco Giovanni Malusà

The aim of the curriculum in geological sciences is to develop the doctoral student's ability in the analysis of geologic processes through the application of quantitative approaches based on advanced strategies of data collection, analytical techniques and modeling. Fundamental and applied research programs are generally carried out in collaboration with other universities and research institutes.

Research topics encompass the main fields of Earth sciences:

  • Stratigraphy, petrography, sedimentology, tectonics and geomorphology, also including the impact of climate at different time scales
  • Applied geochemistry and geochronology, and their application to geologic reconstructions
  • Physical and mathematical modeling of geologic processes
  • Structural and microstructural characterization of minerals and mineral resources
  • Characterization of marine, coastal and terrestrial environments
  • Natural hazard and risk assessment, also including the interaction between geologic processes and infrastructures
  • Groundwater modeling, transport of heat and contaminants and water resource management in developing countries

Research activities include:

  • Analysis of active continental margin tectonics and subduction zone processes, also based on geological mapping and three-dimensional geologic models
  • Impact of tectonics and climate on relief evolution and sediment transport
  • Analysis of active faulting and related surface effects
  • Analysis of magmatic processes in different geologic settings
  • Analysis of carbon processes and natural carbon storage
  • Quantitative provenance analysis and impact of climate variations on the sedimentary cycle
  • Crystallographic, microstructural and nanotribological characterization of minerals
  • Rock-mass characterization and enhancement of mineral resources
  • Management of groundwater resources and analysis of contamination processes
  • Evolutionary models for slope instability and multi-risk analysis
  • Physical-mechanical characterization of soils, rocks and rock masses
  • Vulnerability assessment of natural systems and associated infrastructures 

For any information on the curriculum research lines, contact:

Responsible for the Curriculum in Geological Sciences: Prof. Federico Agliardi

Director: Prof. Marco Giovanni Malusà

The specific objective of the curriculum in terrestrial and marine environmental sciences is to promote the development of the doctoral student's ability to work in multidisciplinary groups, possibly at international level, and to interact with competences related to different fields, including topics more strictly related to management, such as legal-economic aspects.

The research activities, which have sustainability as a characterizing aspect, are developed along three main lines: 1) knowledge of the environment in its components and in their interactions and integrations; 2) assessment and prevention of risks for humans and the environment, deriving from the human activities, 3) development of innovative methodologies and technologies for the restoration and conservation of the environment and the territory and for the protection of the biodiversity.

The research activities relating to the three main lines are as follows:

Analysis and characterization of the terrestrial and marine environment

Analysis and monitoring of the environment and the territory using Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing. Analysis and characterization of soils and vegetation. Hydrogeological, chemical and ecological analysis of groundwater and surface water. Biology, geomorphological analysis and mapping of marine habitats. Chemistry and physics of aerosols and the atmosphere. Noise pollution. Ecosystem services. Insular biogeography. Analysis of the role of the oceans in the climate system.

Assessment of impacts and risks on humans, the environment and ecosystems

Climate change and impact of climatic factors in the alteration of natural habitats and terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems. Ecotoxicology: risks deriving from exposure to contaminants at various levels of organization of the ecological scale. Chemometric approaches and development of QSAR models for the prediction of the effects of contaminants on human health and on non-target species. Study of the effects of nanoparticles, plant allergens, endocrine disruptors, atmospheric particulates and physical stresses on biological processes both in vivo and in vitro. In vitro and in silico approaches for the study of the interaction between metals (essential and non-essential) and biological models: potential effects on human health. In vitro models for the evaluation of carcinogenic potential of environmental contaminants and matrices. Study of vegetation and soil degradation due to human activities. Impacts of eutrophication, climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on surface water quality. Impact of aerosols on the atmospheric radiative balance. Acoustic impact of human activities and transport infrastructures. Impact of alien species on biodiversity. Controls by natural and anthropogenic factors on the development of marine bioconstructions. Marine biomineralization as an environmental register. Effects of physical transport processes in the ocean and turbulence on marine organisms.

Management and recovery of the environment and the territory

Hydrogeological risk management. Wastewater management, treatment and disposal. Waste disposal, treatment and recycling. Remediation of contaminated sites and ecological restoration. Sustainable management of production processes and life cycle assessment. Landscape ecological planning terrestrial and aquatic ecological networks. Analysis and conservation of biodiversity. Education for sustainable development and environmental communication.

For any information regarding curriculum research lines, contact:

Responsible for the Curriculum in Terrestrial and Marine Environmental Sciences: Prof. Andrea Franzetti

Director: Prof. Marco Giovanni Malusà