Candidates can apply to the following SANFEED programme topics until
31 May 2019:

  • TOPIC I: Improving fish growth and composition models to optimize fish nutrition and rearing practices (WP1)

    Supervisory team: Tomé Silva (SPAROS); Luísa Valente (ICBAS-UP, CIIMAR)

    Industrial Representative: Luís Conceição (SPAROS)

    Description of the research programme:
    The application of fish growth and composition models are increasingly seen as an objective way of optimizing feed formulation and feeding regime in commercial fish rearing operations, in order to ensure high biological and economical efficiency of the process, along with minimal environmental impacts. In this work, we focus on three species: Nile tilapia, Senegalese sole and Atlantic salmon.
    Though there is a wide range of possible modeling approaches, from extremely simple models (based on concepts/parameters such as “relative growth rate”, “feed conversion rate” or “thermal growth coefficient”), to more detailed models (based on bioenergetic and/or biochemical principles). Currently, models of the simple type are in more widespread use, in part due to the fact they are more easily interpretable to a layman. On the other hand, as the availability of data increases, the use of overly simple models entails a performance gap that can only be bridged through the exploitation of models of higher complexity (e.g. simple bioenergetic models, dynamic energy budget models, metabolic models), with a higher sensitivity to a more diverse range of dietary and environmental factors.
    Regardless of modeling approach, an essential aspect is to have enough information on basic aspects of fish physiology, behavior and bioenergetics (namely, voluntary feed intake, body composition information, information on mass/energy changes under differing combinations of temperature profiles, feeding regimes and feed compositions). For this purpose, information from several sources (public and private) needs to be collected and compiled, and remains a central aspect of any modeling work.
    The goal of this work is thus to collect the necessary information and use it to develop and calibrate models of fish growth and composition of varying complexity, comparing them on the basis of sound statistical principles (e.g. under a cross-validation framework), in order to objectively evaluate the relative performance of different models in the support of cost-efficient production solutions for the fish species under consideration.

  • TOPIC II: Novel functional ingredients in petfood (WP2)

    Supervisory team: Ana Rita Cabrita (ICBAS-UP, LAQV, REQUIMTE); Margarida Maia (ICBAS-UP, LAQV, REQUIMTE); Sofia Lima (FFUP, LAQV, REQUIMTE)

    Industrial Representative: Elisabete Matos (Sorgal)

    Description of the research programme:
    Commercially available pet food varies greatly in terms of ingredients, nutritional composition and manufacturing process. Selection of ingredients is a key aspect in terms of feed cost and consumer demand. Despite most of the market formulas are based on animal and vegetable ingredients the choice of ingredients is broader, including the use of a specific organism, the part of that organism and the form in which it will be included. All these parameters will affect, among others, diet cost, stability, nutritional composition, and technological requirements. In typical pet foods, the most currently used protein sources are chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, salmon, menhaden, meat-by products and poultry by-product meal, among the animal sources, and soybean meal and corn gluten meal, among the plant sources. However, the development of novel ingredients will contribute for the sustainability of the pet food sector and the development of functional pet foods. These functional foods will provide optimal nutritional value and promote the animal health status. Indeed, novel proteins may help prevent the development of protein-related sensitivities or allergies. Given the recent anthropomorphism of pets, the selected ingredients need simultaneously to be acceptable by the owners and nutritious and palatable to the pets. Due to the economic and cultural differences among societies, a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for sustainability is not possible.

    More sustainable ingredients with a lower impact on the environment may include by-products, single-cell organisms and lower order animals. In the present proposal the novel feeds to be selected will be adjusted according to the strategy of the company. However, and regarding protein sources, insects (e.g., housefly, cricket, grasshopper, mealworm, black soldier fly, cockroach), squid and herring meals have been proposed as a high-quality protein source. Microalgae could be regarded as energy or protein sources depending on the species considered, as well as a source of bioactive compounds.
    Additionally, the development of nanoparticles for oral delivery of bioactive compounds is also proposed as an emerging solution to improve bioavailability of nutritive elements and the development of functional ingredients. Indeed, hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules as antioxidants and vitamins can be incorporated within the nanoparticles that respond to external or internal stimuli, such as pH or oxidative stress, and thus could be used to control the release of the bioactive compound.
    The workplan will comprise in vitro and in vivo studies to evaluate the nutritional and functional properties of the selected ingredients and formulated nanoparticles.

  • TOPIC III: “One food”: A holistic approach to algae as feed to different animal models (WP3)

    Supervisory team: Margarida Maia (ICBAS-UP, LAQV, REQUIMTE); Joana Laranjeira Silva (Allmicroalgae); António Mira da Fonseca (ICBAS-UP, REQUIMTE, LAQV)

    Industrial Representative: Helena Abreu (Algaplus); Júlio Abelho (Allmicroalgae)

    Description of the research programme:
    Recently, nutrition has moved on to the concept of functional nutrition. Functional nutrition involves the use of ingredients or supplements containing biologically active compounds with benefits beyond meeting the animals’ nutritional requirements, namely on health promotion. Among functional feeds, algae emerge as one of the most promising to be used in animal nutrition.
    Algae are a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms, including microalgae and macroalgae, that are remarkable sources of nutrients and bioactive compounds. When fed to different animal species, as ingredient or supplement, both microalgae and macroalgae species were reported to improve growth, immune system, reproductive performance, increase the number of eggs, or promote overall health. However, these effects vary with algae species and with cultivation condition within species.
    Nutrition plays a major role on animals’ performance, productivity, health, welfare, and environmental impact. This role is independent of the animal species, their habitat, digestive system particularities and feeding habits. Thus, this proposal aims to evaluate a novel algae product in animal feeding using a new approach. A bend of microalgae and macroalgae species (rather than individual species) will be assessed in different animal models in a holistic approach to nutrition: “one food”. Thus, the novel algae blend will be included in the diet of terrestrial and aquatic animals, carnivorous, omnivorous, and herbivorous, either monogastric and poligastric, and their effects on the overall nutrition evaluated. This proposal is expected to contribute to the development of a novel functional feed of high added value and of potential use to a broad variety of animal species.
    The workplan will include several tasks, as detailed chemical composition, in vitro digestibility assays and in vivo trials, which will be later adjusted according to the companies’ interests.

  • TOPIC IV: “Farming for You” - Increasing consumer awareness of farmed fish (WP4)

    Supervisory team: Luísa Valente (ICBAS-UP, CIIMAR), Luís M. Cunha (FCUP/ GreenUPorto), Manuela Pintado (ESB-UCP/ CBQF)

    Industrial Representative: Rui Costa Lima (Sense Test)

    Description of the research programme:
    Aquaculture productivity is oriented to improve food security offering healthy, safe and tailor-made seafood to consumers. This topic will focus on different strategies able to contribute to a sustainable growth of aquaculture using distinct strategies: a) the selection of more sustainable ingredients to include in fish diets, under a circular economy approach; b) the natural fortification of fish fillets to provide functional foods for human consumption; c) the evaluation of consumer awareness for farmed fish produced with distich nutritional strategies.
    The objectives of this project will be reached by 1) Selecting by-products from the agrofood sector, produced in large quantities and with recognised nutritional value. Among these, vegetable-origin by-products (carrot, tomato and coriander) with functional properties (antioxidant and immunostimulant) will be compared with animal by-products (blood and hydrolysate blood fraction) rich nutritional sources and produced in very high amounts. These products will be chemically characterised and included in diets for European sea bass. At the end of the trials the following parameters will be determined: growth performance and feed utilisation; nutritional value of the flesh for human consumption; muscle anti-oxidant capacity; analysis of fillet texture profile (TPA); descriptive and dynamic sensory profiling of fish fillets. The consumer awareness for farmed fish produced with the above-mentioned nutritional strategies will also be evaluated. Circular economy is a EU priority, but the acceptability of such products for human consumption is often questionable and needs to be further evaluated. Different approaches will be carried out, including interviews and surveys to consumers evaluating how to build consumer’s trust, reduce perceived risk and improve valorisation.

Admission criteria

Students to be recruited will be selected by the Directive board of SANFEED programme on the basis of high academic achievements, their prior knowledge/skills in the proposed research field and an assessment of their potential and commitment to complete high quality research.

The candidates to SANFEED must hold the following academic/professional qualifications:

  1. Master's degree or legal equivalent in Animal Science, Biology, Veterinary, or related field;
  2. Graduation degree (first cycle) with an especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board as suitable to carry out this cycle of studies;
  3. Holder of especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board suitable to carry out this cycle of studies.
  4. All candidates will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in English, either by proving that they are English native speakers, or by submitting the results of a recognized language proficiency test:
    1. a recent TOEFL Certificate: minimum score: 57 points (Paper) or 87 points (Internet);
    2. a recent IELTS Certificate: minimum score: 6.5;
    3. a recent First Certificate in English of the University of Cambridge;
    4. a recent Certificate of a University Language Centre testifying that the student masters the necessary knowledge of English to function academically - C1 level; or
    5. a recent proof that the candidate followed at least 2 years of higher education taught in English.
  5. Foreign students must have at least basic knowledge of Portuguese, being recommended to attend a Portuguese language course at UP. This basic knowledge of Portuguese language should be demonstrated by a short letter in Portuguese, explaining the level of knowledge of Portuguese language and how this was obtained.

The recognition referred to in the b) and c) is based on reports from two experts in the field of study proposed and appointed by the Directive Board. The admission is conditioned by the acceptance and approval of the application by the Director of the programme. Finally, the right to being admitted in the cycle of studies leading to a PhD degree acquired after approval and acceptance of the application is formalized in the act of registration at the Registry of the Chamber of Students ICBAS-UP, which must occur within legally established dates each year.

Application process

Applications must be submitted online, via the SIGARRA platform, selecting Online applications, Doctoral Programme in Animal Science - Admission scheme in Doctoral Programme. The payment of the U.Porto application fee (55€) to ICBAS, is mandatory. To pay the application fee the option "Current Account" must be accessed on the right side of the screen and the respective ATM reference will be generated. The application will be only considered valid after the reception of confirmation of the payment by the SIBS.

For further information on how to apply and detailed guidance, applicants are suggested to contact the ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office - Ana Paula Pereira::

E-mail: |

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26
Opening hours: 10.00-12:00h and 14:00-15:30h


  • SANFEED application-form including personal details and research project synopsis related to a SANFEED topic (download file below)
  • Identity card/Passport (optional)
  • Motivation letter
  • Sample of own scientific text (e.g. international publication)
  • English proficiency proof
  • Degrees certificates *
  • Short letter in Portuguese (only for foreign students)
  • Curriculum vitae (European format)
  • 2 Recommendation letters
  • Confirmation of the application fee payment by the SIBS

* In the moment of the application, it’s not necessary to submit the recognition of degrees obtained in foreign institutions (only the degrees’ certificates). However, admitted candidates will have to present, in the moment of the registration in ICBAS, the official recognition in the terms defined in the legislation (Decree-Law nr. 66/2018, of 16th of August and Ordinance nr. 33/2019, of 25th of January).

General Application: All applications will be checked on their technical admission requirements and according to FCT regulations. In case candidates do not fulfil these requirements they will not be academically reviewed. Some candidates might also be interviewed.
The Selective application is restricted to short-listed best candidates (one per topic). The selection of eligible candidates will be based on the candidate’s abilities, interest and enthusiasm for the selected research topic taking into consideration pre-defined criteria and a balance among WPs. All candidates should also be informed after the selection process about the strengths and weaknesses of their applications.

After evaluation, short-listed best applicants (one per topic) will be notified until the 21st of June 2019 and asked by e-mail to submit a selective application under a provisional assigned topic. These candidates are put into direct contact with the potential supervisors, who will assist them in developing a detailed and sound thesis project that will be submitted to the Secretary of the Animal Science Doctoral Programme until the 28th of June 2019.

Each member of the Directive Board will assess and score each eligible application according to the following criteria: 1) quality of the CV as indicated by (i) academic formation and degrees qualifications (ii) previous knowledge/research skills (1-40 points); 2) adequacy of the candidate skills, abilities and capabilities from the thesis project elaborated by the candidate (1-40 points); 3) good command of English oral and written expression (1-10 points); 4) basic knowledge of Portuguese language (1-5 points); personal motivation and career plan (1-5 points); and 5) recommendation letters (1-5 points).
For the ranking of candidates, it will be taken into account the programme requirements/restrictions, making all necessary arrangements to comply with non-discrimination objectives, by ensuring gender equality, integration of the disabled, enhancement of social and economic cohesion and the combat of xenophobia. Equally, in the framework of the selection process the Life Long Learning requirements will be considered enabling people at all stages of their lives to take part in this stimulating experience. The Directive Board together with the supervisory team might need to interview some candidates when equally ranked for a same topic, in order to select the best candidate per topic for the developing a detailed and sound thesis project.
The provisory results will be announced until the 03rd of July 2019.

Final results will be announced until the 18th of July 2019.

The results of the selection process will be communicated via email to all candidates, and the list of approved applicants will be available at In the case of an unfavourable award decision (i.e. for applicants not selected to receive grants), the applicant has a period of 10 days after disclosure, to be heard by the Selection Committee, by request of a preliminary hearing, pursuant to the Portuguese Código do Procedimento Administrativo. The final decision may be appealed to the a Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P, within 15 days after the respective notification.

Selected students will have to register in ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office from 22nd to 26th of July 2019. These students will also have to contact ICBAS’ Treasury Department for payment of the registration process (100’00€ for inscription 2’00€ for insurance) according the legislation at the registration date.

Numerus clausus

The Program accepts a maximum of 4 students in 2019 fully funded by bursaries from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the SANFEED industrial partners according to FCT regulations.

Application Form

form here


ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26

Opening hours:
10h:00 - 12h:00
14h:00 - 15h:30

Director of the SANFEED

António José Mira da Fonseca

Director of the SANFEED
scientific board

Luísa Maria Pinheiro Valente