The Ph.D. Programme in Sustainable Chemistry is jointly hosted by three leading Portuguese Universities: Aveiro, NOVA Lisbon and Porto. The Programme is funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation, following a favourable evaluation by an international panel. Ten new PhD fellowships are available each year, starting in 2016/17.
Sustainable Chemistry is an industry-led movement aiming at restoring the reputation of Chemistry as a core Science that can contribute decisively to solve many current societal problems. The European Chemical Industry has built the SUSCHEM Technological Platform as its vehicle to promote Sustainable Chemistry. These new trends are closely followed by this Ph.D. Programme. The expertise put together by the partnership of the three Universities is highly multidisciplinary encompassing all subjects of Chemistry and related areas of Materials, Biotechnology and Engineering that are crucial for the development of Sustainable Chemistry.
The successful candidates to the Programme will be able to choose their Ph.D. thesis subject from the much diversified offer given by the research/teaching staff involved in the Programme. The full list of available projects for the candidates starting in 2016/17 will be published on the th of December 2016. They will also benefit from a global perspective of the current problems of the Chemical Industry from the standpoint of Sustainability and will have access to the broad educational offer provided by the partner Universities.
The Ph.D. Programme in Sustainable Chemistry is supervised by a External Advisory Committee .
The research capabilities of this doctoral programme are clustered in three large Centres of Excellence / Laboratórios Associados and two smaller, but highly productive research centres:
REQUIMTE , from Universidade NOVA and Universidade do Porto, is a network devoted to the development of Green Chemistry. Its five strategic lines of research address important themes of Sustainable Chemistry: (i) Novel compounds from renewable sources; (ii) Food Quality and Safety; (iii) Analytical Control and Process Automation; (iv) Clean Chemical Processes; (v) Chemical Biology and Bioengineering.
CICECO (Centre for Research in Ceramics and Composite Materials), at Universidade de Aveiro, is a research institute devoted to materials science and engineering, encompassing chemists, physicists and materials scientists. Two of its three strategic lines of research pertain to Sustainable Chemistry aims: (i) Materials for Energy and Industrial Applications, and (ii) Sustainability and Biomaterials.
ITQB NOVA is a research Institute with a strong Biology core area, but with a multidisciplinary mission that includes an important contribution of chemists, chemical engineers and biotechnologists. It has well developed ties with the chemical and biotechnology companies, through IBET, a University-Industry interface.
CIQUP (Centre for Research in Chemistry from Universidade do Porto) has five lines of research (i) Organic Synthesis of Bioactive Compounds (ii) Food Chemistry (isolation, synthesis and properties of the antioxidant polyphenols present in food matrices); (ii) Chemometric Research of Chemical, Environmental, Forensic and Biological Systems (iv) Interfacial Electrochemistry, Surface Modification and Sensors (v) Molecular Energetics, Colloids and Bio-interfaces.
QOPNA research unit (Centre of Organic Chemistry, Natural Products and Foodstuffs of the University of Aveiro) comprises the scientific activities focused on synthetic organic chemistry (establishment of new synthetic methodologies and reactivity studies), mass spectrometry (on the field of Functional and Structural Biology and on Omics’ Biomedical Applications) and food chemistry/biochemistry (food quality, composition and functionality). The organic chemistry group is focused on establishing new synthetic methods according to green chemistry principles.
The three host institutions managed well-established PhD programmes in Chemistry and Sustainable Chemistry for several years, before merging them into the Doctoral Programme on Sustainable Chemistry. Thirty students were enrolled in the first edition (2013/14) of this joint Programme. Encompassing the main areas of chemistry and always placing sustainable chemistry at the core, the joint doctoral programme is promoted by a large network of chemists, biochemists, pharmacists, materials scientists and chemical engineers. The team of scientists includes members of the three universities with extensive experience in setting-up and managing Ph.D. programs, both as coordinators or members of thesis committees, having designed new advanced Ph.D. course modules and supervised Ph.D. research plans. But there is also a cohort of younger scientists and professors that will ensure the timely renewal of PhD thesis subjects.
The establishment of a single, joint programme is promoting new research collaborations that offer students enlarged opportunities to engage in training activities within multidisciplinary/multi-institution projects, including with foreign universities and European networks. It also provides access to state-of-the-art research facilities, not all available at the same site.
On the other hand, Sustainable Chemistry is of crucial importance for the Chemical Industry. The urgent need of the Industry for young talent in these areas will likely provide better job opportunities for the programme graduates. As a cumulative effect, we anticipate an improved attractiveness of this programme for bright students.
Complementarity and synergies between the host institutions
The three Universities involved have a history of collaboration in the areas of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences and Biotechnology.
REQUIMTE, “Laboratorio Associado” for Green Chemistry is itself a joint venture of two Universities: Porto and Nova Lisbon. As an association of research centres, it has existed for more than 15 years. About ten years ago, it was recognised by FC&T as Centre of Excellence for Green Chemistry. Many joint research projects of scientists of the two Universities, Porto and Nova, have developed through the years, and 120 joint papers have been published. The currently existing PhD programme on Sustainable Chemistry was launched against this background of collaboration.
On the other hand, recent scientific collaboration between REQUIMTE and the research centres of the University of Aveiro, CICECO and QOPNA, resulted in close to 80 joint papers.
The research performed in all the involved institutions has a strong chemical core, but with different interdisciplinary flavours. The University of Aveiro brings an important contribution of Materials scientists, the University of Porto provides additional unique expertise in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Nova Lisbon enrols the participation of chemical engineers and biotechnologists. On the other hand, some common areas in different Universities offer ground for the development of joint PhD supervisions. Examples are Organic Chemistry in Aveiro and Nova, Food Chemistry in Aveiro and Porto, and Biological Chemistry in Porto and Nova.
Overall, the consortium covers all the important areas of Sustainable Chemistry addressed by the research agenda of the technological platform Suschem.
Collaboration with other institutions
Faculty involved in the Ph.D. programmes associated in this proposal have developed a vast network of collaborating institutions and University departments, especially in Europe. It has been used for exchange of students, for short and long stays. Research ties have thus been established with most of the prominent scientists in the fast expanding Green Chemistry research family in Europe.
The PhD programme on Sustainable Chemistry has ties with the Spanish PhD programme and other European networks. Several other institutional actions were also developed and links with well known Universities and Institutes throughout Europe have been established.
The existing doctoral programmes have also established a number of collaborations with industrial partners. More than a dozen students are currently developing their research work in close collaboration or in full time with industrial partners. These are diverse and their areas of operation constitute an example of the encompassing nature of sustainable chemistry and of its impact. Examples are: a biotech company (STAB-vida), process chemistry, manufacture and custom synthesis (HOVIONE), soft drinks and beer (UNICER), coffee (NovaDelta), smart and functional materials (CENTI, Nanochem), wood derivatives (SONAE), energy, gas and oil (STATOIL, AREVA), services and consulting (ECOGEOSAFE, TRK). In order to institutionalize the established collaborations with industrial partners, a member of faculty will be nominated as Industrial Liaison Officer, and an Advisory Industrial Board set-up, with two members of industrial companies that have collaborated more intensely with the proposing research centres. The main objective is to open up opportunities of short stays in industrial research laboratories and mentoring for students with career targets in Industrial Chemistry and related subjects.