Research Project Proposals

Risk & Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Four grants are available.

3 grants funded by Università degli Studi di Genova and 1 grant funded on DM 351 (PA).

For the grant funded on DM 351 (PA), the research project has been already fixed in agreement with the goals of such DM to be multidisciplinary among the natural risk management, engineering, law and managerial research area and to enhance the capacity of small-medium public administrations. For this grant the research project of the candidate must agree with the goals identified for this research theme.

For the other three grants, funded by Università degli Studi di Genova, possible research topics are described in the following. Interested Candidates are invited to contact the proposers listed below or other members of the Internal Curriculum Committee for agreeing on other possible topics (the complete list of members is available here).

Research topic of the grant funded on DM 351 (PA)

Proposers: Riccardo Berardi and Rossella Bovolenta (DICCA), Giorgio Afferni (DIGI), Teresina Torre (DIEC)

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: Multi-disciplinary and multi-scenario analyses aimed at the study of territory critical issues, with particular reference to hydrogeological risk and landslide risk, for the definition of monitoring and warning systems, of feasible and sustainable interventions as well as for the choice of priority assignment procedures of economic resources and the evaluation of organizational and managerial issues, available to small/medium-sized public institutions for mitigating the risks and increasing their territory resilience.

The objectives will be pursued by means of analysis procedures particularly related to geotechnical engineering skills for land protection, natural risk management, innovative strategies and decision-making processes.

The profile of the required Candidate is preferably a master engineer with the specific outlined technical competences, and particular interests and predisposition to develop the topics described above.

Research stays: it is planned a research stay at a small/medium-size public institution of minimum 6 months. The San Colombano Certenoli in Liguria that will co-fund the reseach project is available to host the Candidate.

For more information please contact: Riccardo Berardi (, Rossella Bovolenta (

Possible research topics for the three grants funded by the University of Genova

Research topic A

Title: The other side of the green: environment, process risk and citizen engagement

Proposers: Guido Busca, Bruno Fabiano and Andrea Fabrizio Pirni

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: The project proposal deals with the challenge of the Next Generation EU, for which a central role is played by: i) the adequate assessment of the impacts of new green technologies on process and personnel safety in industrial activities; ii) and the promotion of participatory processes with citizens to understand the new risk profile. Starting from the limitations of the common paradigm “Green is Safe”, the research aims to go beyond, on the one hand, by investigating the emerging industrial risks associated to the new green technologies and environmental sustainability and, on the other one, combining the technical aspects with the appropriate citizen engagement. Summarizing, main keywordsof the research are: Citizen engagement, Emerging process risk, Land-use planning, Participatory approach, Risk perception and communication.

For more information please contact: Guido Busca, ; Bruno Fabiano ,; Andrea Fabrizio Pirni ,

Link to the group or personal webpage:


· Guido Busca (2021) Production of gasolines and monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: From fossil raw materials to green processes, Energies, 14 (13), 4061.

· Markowski A.S., Kraslawsski A., Vairo T, Fabiano B (2021) Process safety management quality in industrial corporation for sustainable development, Sustainability, 13 (16), 9001.

· Luigi Pellizzoni (1999) Reflexive Modernization and Beyond: Knowledge and Value in the Politics of Environment and Technology Theory, culture & society, 1999-08, Vol.16 (4), p.99-125

· Beck Ulrich (2009) Critical Theory of World Risk Society: A Cosmopolitan Vision Constellations (Oxford, England), 2009-03, Vol.16 (1), p.3-22.

Research topic B

Title: Climate change impacts and risks of extreme coastal water level events in the Mediterranean Sea

Proposers: Giovanni Besio

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: Climate change impacts threaten coastal areas all over the world, driven by increasing extreme sea levels. With higher sea surface and air temperatures, continued sea-level rise and high exposure and vulnerability of about 20 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, climate change affects the Mediterranean Sea significantly more than the world average and is therefore defined as a vulnerability hotspot. Coastal impacts and their associated damages occur during extreme coastal water level (ECWL) events, resulting from the combination of different physical processes such as relative sea level changes (RSLC), waves, tides and storm surge. This research will focus on the joint characterization of extreme waves, RSLC and storm surge as the main drivers of coastal impacts and risks in the Mediterranean Sea. The PhD student will develop a state-of-the-art multi-model ensemble of projections of storm surge for future climate and socioeconomical scenarios coupled with the University of Genoa-MeteOcean’s wave projections. Then, PhD student will work on impact case studies for an enhanced assessment of the associated coastal impacts and management of compound risks such as flooding, erosion and damage of protection infrastructure.

For more information please contact: Giovanni Besio,

Link to the group or personal webpage:


· De Leo, F., Besio, G. and Mentaschi, L. (2021). Trends and variability of ocean waves under RCP8.5 emission scenario in the Mediterranean Sea. Ocean Dynamics, 71(1), 97-117.

· Lira-Loarca, A., Cobos, M., Besio, G. and Baquerizo, A. (2021). Projected wave climate temporal variability due to climate change. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, 1‑17.

· Lira-Loarca, A., Ferrari, F., Mazzino, A., and Besio, G. (2021). Future wind and wave energy resources and exploitability in the Mediterranean Sea by 2100. Applied Energy, 302, 117492.

Research topic C

Title: Marine pollution due to oil spills and hazardous materials: modelling and evaluating risk and environmental impact

Proposers: Giovanni Besio

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: Marine and navigation accidents occur worldwide along navigation routes. Annual Reports of EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) clearly show that the most dangerous route part during the navigation of commercial vessel is that one that stretches form the arrival in coastal waters all the way to the berth at the destination harbor and viceversa. At the same time coastal waters and the coastal zone is one of the most important assets for the human activities either from an industrial point of view and from a leisure point of view. In any case, the inherent economic value of the coastal environment is increasing as time passes due to growing values of the Ecosystem Services. In this framework the development of reliable and efficient tools that could help in the prevention, mitigation and management of possible spills of contaminants in the ocean is fundamental in order to preserve the environmental quality of coastal and harbor waters. In the PhD project high resolution numerical models will be implemented in order to develop an ICT tool able to provide forecast for possible spills pathways and its evolution along time and space. The models will be nested in the Mediterranean Forecast System and it will be implemented a new methodology in order to treat hot-start initial conditions and boundary conditions in order to downscale the spatial resolution up to hundreds of meters. Hence climate characterization by big-data analysis and machine learning algorithms will allow to perform coastal circulation and spills dispersion forecasts with no computational time. On tha basis of the operational chain, risk assessment and eventual environmental degradation will be estimated and evaluated on the basis of different scenarios.

For more information please contact: Giovanni Besio,

Link to the group or personal webpage:


· Cremonini, G., De Leo, F., Stocchino, A. & Besio, G. 2021 On the selection of time-varying scenarios of wind and ocean waves: Methodologies and applications in the North Tyrrhenian Sea. Ocean Modelling, 163

· Putzu, S., Enrile, F., Besio, G., Cucco, A., Cutroneo, L., Capello, M. & Stocchino, Al. 2019 A reasoned comparison between two hydrodynamic models: Delft3d-Flow and ROMS (Regional Oceanic Modelling System). Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 7(1), 464

· Enrile F., Besio G., Stocchino A., Magaldi M.G. 2019 Influence of initial conditions on absolute and relative dispersion in semi-enclosed basins. PLOS ONE 14(7): e0217073

· Enrile, F., Besio, G., Stocchino, A., Magaldi, M.G., Mantovani, C., Cosoli, S., Gerin, R. & Poulain, P.M. 2018. Evaluation of surface Lagrangian transport barriers in the Gulf of Trieste. Continental Shelf Research, 167, pp. 125-138

Research topic D

Title: Developing an automated data quality control method for slope monitoring based on soil-water retention curves

Proposers: Dr Agostino Walter Bruno, Pr Rossella Bovolenta

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: The climatic change is imposing on natural slopes and geotechnical assets increasingly more severe weather conditions characterised by long droughts followed by heavy rainfall events. These conditions exacerbate the risk of failure, thus imposing the need for continuous monitoring of slopes. For this purpose, the geotechnical and geomatic groups of the DICCA (University of Genoa) have recently devised an innovative system for the 3D analysis of slopes for assessing and forecasting slope instabilities triggered by rainfalls. This system, named LAMP (LAndslides Monitoring and Predicting), integrates both geotechnical and hydrological modelling and it is now supported by five sensor networks in Italy and France. These monitoring networks are instrumented with sensors that measure the soil water content along several verticals, which is crucial for the analysis of a slope. Based on the current system, this doctoral project, which will be jointly supervised by Dr Agostino Walter Bruno and Dr Rossella Bovolenta, will devise an innovative and automated data quality control method capable of detecting in real-time possible malfunctioning of the monitoring sensors. This method compares the monitored data of gravimetric water content with those predicted by the soil-water retention curve of the soil and it will alert of possible sensor malfunctioning, as the deviation of monitored and predicted data exceeds a given threshold. The implementation of the proposed automated control method to the different networks of the LAMP system will strongly support the quality and reliability of the monitoring of slopes. This outcome will be of fundamental importance to ensure the safety of natural slopes and geotechnical assets mainly under the extreme weather conditions imposed by the climatic change.

For more information please contact: or

Link to the group or personal webpage:


· Balzano, B., Bruno, A. W., Denzer, H., Molan, D., Tarantino, A., & Gallipoli, D. (2021). REAL-TIME quality check of measurements of soil water status in the vadose zone. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, 121, 102918.

· Bovolenta, R., Passalacqua, R., Federici, B., & Sguerso, D. (2019, July). Monitoring of Rain-Induced Landslides for the Territory Protection: The AD-VITAM Project. In National Conference of the Researchers of Geotechnical Engineering (pp. 138-147). Springer, Cham.

· Bovolenta, R., Iacopino, A., Passalacqua, R., & Federici, B. (2020). Field measurements of soil water content at shallow depths for landslide monitoring. Geosciences, 10(10), 409.

Research topic E

Title: Image-based identification of bridge cracks and deteriorations

Proposers: Domenico Sguerso and Bianca Federici

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: The present research will focus on implementing an image-based method to detect cracks and deteriorations (e.g., active and passive humidity stains, missing concrete covers, rebar corrosion) of Reinforced Concrete (RC) and Prestressed Concrete (PC) structures as bridges. Moreover, the position of the cracks will be known too, thanks to photogrammetric reconstruction of the image acquisition.

Image processing algorithms, such as edge-detection and image binarization algorithms and Object-based Image Analysis (OBIA) (Zollini et al., 2020), could be employed for semi-automatic identification of the deteriorations on the acquired images, paying attention to increase defects detection efficiency on large image datasets and analyze the whole structure. The workflow will be automatic, requiring minimum supervision by a human operator, and could be integrated in photogrammetric tools already implemented by the Geomatics research group.

Geometric information such as crack length or width will be estimated from the images at each epoch. Absolute georeferentiation will be given by distinctive homologous features, recognized also in the whole structure photogrammetric model. This procedure will allow for low-cost but accurate monitoring of RC/PC damages evolution.

For more information please contact:,

Link to the group or personal webpage:


· Gagliolo, S., Passoni, D., Federici, B., Ferrando, I., Sguerso, D., 2019. and mago: Two useful instruments in support of photogrammetric uav survey. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives, Vol. 42, Issue 2/W13, pp 289-296.

· Zollini, S., Alicandro, M., Dominici, D., Quaresima, R., Giallonardo, M., 2020. UAV Photogrammetry for Concrete Bridge Inspection Using Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA). Remote Sensing 12, 19: 3180

Research topic F

Title: Integrated structural measures for seismic-flood risk reduction and environmental sustainability at the urban scale

Proposers: Serena Cattari and Silvia De Angeli

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: This research topic aims to identify and investigate the impact of a series of structural interventions at the urban scale, specifically conceived to maximize the benefits both from the point of view of the disaster risk reduction potential and that of environmental sustainability. The risk reduction is investigated from a multi-risk perspective by considering both seismic risk and flooding. The research will specifically focus on interventions at the building and/or neighborhood level which would be able to reduce the vulnerability at the local scale, trying to minimize potential asynergies among considered hazards. Furthermore, the identified measures should be able to minimize the environmental impacts and increase the overall urban sustainability in terms of resource efficiency and/or emissions (e.g., considering at least one of the following aspects: energy efficiency, water consumption, air quality).

The Ph.D. student should define the criteria to measure the benefits of the different solutions identified and implement one or more methodologies and tools to measure and compare them in order to apply cost-benefit analyses and address the most effective reduction strategies. The measures can be differentiated and tailored for different building typologies, occupancies or land uses and/or for different levels of hazards vulnerability. Moreover, different demonstrative examples will be selected by considering both low- and high- income countries.

For more information please contact: Serena Cattari,, Silvia De Angeli,


The Asynergies of Structural Disaster Risk Reduction Measures: Comparing Floods and Earthquakes

A multi-hazard framework for spatial-temporal impact analysis,

Integrated techniques for the seismic strengthening and energy efficiency of existing buildings

Conceptual design of integrated seismic and energy retrofit interventions

Research topic G

Title: Short-duration rainfall event in actual and future climate scenarios

Proposers: Ilaria Gnecco

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: The characterization of high intensity and short-duration rainfall events is crucial in small-catchment the field of hydrology of small-catchment and in urban hydrology. However short-duration rainfall data are rarely available and generally the length of the sub-hourly data series is significantly lower with respect to the long-duration ones. The representativeness of these series is also reduced due to the spatial dimension of short-term events, which can be even lower than the density of the pluviometric network.

The aim of the present research is to investigate the transition in the scaling regime of rainfall from sub-daily to sub-hourly timescales in order to improve the capability of the Intensity Duration Frequency curves to provide reliable estimate of the short-duration design storm depth, exploring also methodologies to integrate the distributed information provided by meteorological radars.

Furthermore, in the framework of a climate adaptation approach the estimates of extreme rainfall intensities from sub-daily to sub-hourly timescales in future climate scenarios are needed to tackle the design of resilient urban drainage systems.

Finally explore options for combining gauge, radar data into gridded sub-daily products to add to existing merged products as a key resource for the climate modelling community to validate model outputs.

For more information please contact: Ilaria Gnecco,

Research topic H

Title: Developing Decision Support Systems to plan, design and install nature-based solutions in urban areas for the mitigation of the pluvial flooding

Proposers: Anna Palla

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: Pluvial flooding has become one of the most frequent natural disasters in recent years, and the pairing of nature-based solutions with the traditional grey infrastructure is recognized as the solution to mitigate the negative impact of urbanisation on the hydrological response. The main objective of the present research was to develop a Decision Support Systems (DSS) for planning the interventions (nature-based solutions and traditional grey infrastructure) at the catchment scale to enhance urban resilience to cope with intense rain events with an insight into both current and future climate. It will be based on the implementation of a multi-objective optimization algorithm. Compared to other existing methodologies in the scientific literature, the methodology will be structured according to the phasing-of-construction/rehabilitation approach, aiming to design interventions in phases rather than all at once at the beginning of the construction, with emphasis to budget limits and availability in time.

The research associated with the multi-phase optimization DSS is essential to enable practitioners and policy-makers to design short-term upgrades of the urban drainage network, aimed at reaching pre-fixed levels of reliability while fitting the expected growth and development of the system in the long term.

For more information please contact: Anna Palla,


  • Mei, C., Liu, J., Wang, H., (...), Ding, X., Shao, W. Integrated assessments of green infrastructure for flood mitigation to support robust decision-making for sponge city construction in an urbanized watershed. Sci. Total Environ., 2018, 639, 1394-1407.

  • Palla, A., Gnecco, I. The web-gis TRIG eau platform to assess urban flood mitigation by domestic rainwater harvesting systems in two residential settlements in Italy. Sustainability, 2021, 13(13), 7241.

Research topic I

Title: The impact of urban stormwater dischages from traditional to emerging contaminats

Proposer: Ilaria Gnecco

Curriculum: Risk and Resilience Engineering for the Natural, Industrialized and Built Environments

Description: Rapid increase in global urbanization is producing multiple environmental challenges, one being the impacts of urban stormwater runoff in terms of quantity and quality issues. On the other hand demands on global water supplies are increasing due to several water stressors, consequently urban water authorities are exploring alternative water sources to meet ever-increasing demands and stormwater represents one of the alternatives. The aim of the research is to improve the understanding stormwater quality to quantifying the environmental and ecological impacts, and treatability, of stormwater.

Among the different pollutants associated with stormwater runoff, microplastics have become a major emerging class of pollutants representing significant eco-toxicological risks for ecosystems and marine environments. However, the investigation of microplastic in stormwater runoff is still an open issue (including the methodology for identification and quantification of microplastics). Therefore, widespread in-depth studies are urgently needed to bridge the knowledge gaps to enable a more comprehensive risk assessment of microplastics in inland waters and support the relevant authorities in developing a policy addressing this issue. In particular this research aims at investigating the role of stormwater control measure with respect to microplastics thus evaluating the source pathway as well as the potential mobility downstream and therefore the long-term fate.

For more information please contact: Ilaria Gnecco,