The Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment (DSFTA) was created in November 2012 from the fusion of the Dept. of Physics, Dept. of Earth Sciences and Dept. of Environmental Sciences. It was later joined by a group of researchers from the Dept. of Chemistry.
The DSFTA Department is an integrated structure with a high profile in scientific research and education. It takes advantage of the experience of the researchers from the original departments and their participation in international research collaborations in a wide range of disciplines, thus allowing for the development of innovative and multi-disciplinary research activities.
The Department includes 52 researchers. Their educational and research activities span several domains of Physics, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Chemistry. The Dept. promotes and coordinates research activities for the study and modeling of physical, geological and biological processes that – at different scales – control the Earth system and the surrounding space environment, with particular attention to the evolution of the litosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, biocenosis, populations and their mutual interactions.
Research in Astroparticle Physics, with the study of charged and neutral cosmic radiation and its interactions with the atmosphere, is integrated with the High Energy Physics experimental study of particles generated artificially at accelerators and storage rings at CERN (Geneva) and FNAL (Chicago).
Graduate and PhD students have access, via dedicated stages, to these high-level research structures and laboratories thanks to the participation of researches and teaching staff of the Department in international collaborations. An high-tech spinoff of these activities is, for instance, the development of innovative sensors and related electronics, as well as applications in the field of photonics (lasers and quantum optics).
The research in Earth Sciences is finalized to the identification, evaluation and exploitation of primary resources (minerals, rocks etc..) as well as hydric, geothermal, minerary resources and to the mitigation of geological risks (earthquakes, soil erosion, coastal erosion, floods, landslides).
Studies are in progress on the morphology and dynamics of the Alps and Appenine and of the Mediterranean basin. Research lines are also active in Antarctica and a permanent exhibit is in close proximity to the main Department building hosting the official site of the National Museum of Antarctica. Other studies include sites in Africa (Somalia, Etiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, Angola), in Southern America (Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Brasile) and ASia (Oman, Russia, Vietnam). Research in the field of prehistoric ecology are also pursued.
The research activities of the Department, in the fields of science and applied science, are finalized to the development, under a multi-disciplinary approach, of methodologies for a sustainable utilization of natural resources, land management and planning, and for the protection of the environment and cultural heritage.
The DSFTA Department stands as a scientific, technical and cultural reference point for all public and private operators dealing with land management and planning, protection of biodiversity, exploitation of geo-resources and cultural heritage preservation.
The DSFTA Department offers three first-degree courses (Laurea Triennale: 3 years): Physics and Advanced Techonology (FTA); Geological Sciences; Environmental and Natural Sciences and two second-level courses (Laurea Magistrale: 2 extra years) in Science and Geological Technologies; Ecotossicology and Environmental Sustainability. Practical “hands-on” activities (as for instance laboratory training, design, development and testing of advanced instrumentation, out-doors activities dedicated to training in geological survey) contribute to the formation of new researchers by exposing them to real problems and helping them in their solution.
A very important link between education and research are the graduate programs leading to a PhD degree. The PhD courses offered by the DSFTA Dept. aim to the formation of young researches with a high level of qualification in the fields of Physics, Earth and Environmental Sciences.