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EMBO Practical Course

Integrating traditional and molecular approaches in ecology of glacial habitats (ICME)

02 – 13 August 2022 | Milano & Santa Caterina Valfurva (Stelvio National Park), Italy

  • Registration Deadline
  • 17 May 2022
  • Abstract Submission Deadline
  • 17 May 2022
  • Chosen Participants Will Be Notified By
  • 20 May 2022
  • Payment Deadline
  • 10 June 2022

Apply now!

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About the Practical Course

Glaciers have long been considered almost lifeless environments, but this view does not correspond to reality. In recent years, they have been recognized as ecosystems in their own right, teeming mostly with microbial life, but also hosting larger organisms. Our current knowledge of glacier ecosystems is poor and fragmented. Most studies conducted so far focused on peculiar supraglacial habitats and were restricted to specific taxa. The course is organised in two locations and will last 12 days. The venue for field activities and some lectures is the Rifugio Branca in Santa Caterina Valfurva (SO), Italy Alps. Alpine Guides and expert researchers will guide participant for sample collection in the National Stelvio Park. The venue for wet molecular laboratories, bioinformatics and statistics computer laboratories, practicals and other lectures is the University of Milano Bicocca, Milan, Italy.

The focus of the course is to train young scientists with different backgrounds to interact with each other in planning and executing research projects aiming at identifying the ecological processes of supraglacial and proglacial ecosystems. The course will teach to reconstruct ecological webs and other ecological relationships. It spans from sampling campaign and traditional morphologic classification of organisms to sequencing, bioinformatic and statistical elaboration of sequencing data.

Images are courtesy of Francesca Pittino and Andrea Franzetti

About EMBO Courses and Workshops

EMBO Courses and Workshops are selected for their excellent scientific quality and timelines, provision of good networking activities for all participants and speaker gender diversity (at least 40% of speakers must be from the underrepresented gender).

Organisers are encouraged to implement measures to make the meeting environmentally more sustainable.







  • Registration Deadline
  • 17 May 2022
  • Abstract Submission Deadline
  • 17 May 2022
  • Chosen Participants Will Be Notified By
  • 20 May 2022
  • Payment Deadline
  • 10 June 2022



Registration includes:

  • Course registration and material
  • Accommodation at Rifugio Branca (2 – 6 August)
  • Accommodation at Milano Bicocca (7 – 14)
  • All Lunches and dinner at Rifugio Branca
  • Lunches at Campus Bicocca
  • Coffee breaks
  • Transportation from University of Milano Bicocca to Rifugio Branca and up to the Stelvio National Park and backward
  • A social event

It is preferable that participants bring their own equipment for the excursion on the glacier, namely mountaineering boots, crampons, climbing helmet, climbing harness, and an ice axe. An email containing details on the equipment issue will be sent to participants in due time.


Upon acceptance participants will be sent an email containing information about payment details. The following types of payment options will be available: invoice, bank transfer, PayPal.

Selection criteria

Maximum 25 participants are allowed. Young career researchers, mainly PhD Students and post-doc can apply. Selection is based on the following criteria:

  • Motivation letter (half a page, A4) and CV (1 page, A4).
    Applicants must explicitly state any previous experience in field trips and especially in glacial habitats.
  • Relevance to the field
  • Fair distribution of applicants from different countries and scientific institutes.
  • Fair gender distribution.

Abstract guidelines

Abstracts must be written in English and do not exceed 500 words.

Poster specifications

Virtual poster session. 3 slides for 5 minutes presentation

Travel Grants and Registration Fee Waivers

A limited number of travel grants and registration fee waivers are available for participants.

Applicants do not need to apply separately for these but should indicate on the registration form if they wish to be considered.

Selection of awardees is handled directly by the organizers. Priority is given to participants of any nationality working in laboratories in Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey, as well as from EMBC Associate Member States Chile, India, Singapore and Taiwan. More information is available on the EMBO Travel Grants' page.

Child care grant

EMBO Courses and Workshops offers grants to offset additional child care costs incurred by participants or speakers when participating at any EMBO Courses and Workshop funded meeting. Eligible costs include fees for a caregiver or child-care facility, travel costs for a caregiver, or travel costs for taking the child to the meeting etc. Please indicate on the registration form whether you would like to be considered for the grant. Please also describe how you intend to use the child care grant and specify the sum that you will need.



Dr Manuela Coci
+39 347 1373101




The practical course takes place in two different locations.

From 2 to 7 August the venue location is Rifugio Branca. Field trips and practical activities will be inside the National Stelvio Park. From 8 to 13 August the venue is the University Milano Bicocca.

Participants will be brought by bus and by local transportation system (jeeps) at the expense of the organization to Rifugio Branca and to the park and back to the University.

The appointment to reach the rifugio is on:

Tuesday 2 August from 9:00 to 11:00
University of Milano Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza
Building U1: Scienze dell’Ambiente.

You can reach the University:
by Metro M5 (purple line): metro stop “Bicocca”
by Metro M1 (red line): metro stop “Precotto” and then Tram 7 direction “Messina”, tram stop “Università Bicocca Scienza”
by bus 87: stop “Teatro Arcimboldi”
by bus 51: stop “Ponale-Testi”
by Tram 7: stop “Università Bicocca Scienza”
by train: station Greco-Pirelli (lines S8, S9, S11 + regional train)

For more information, you can use the website of ATM (the public transportation firm for Milan).


Rifugio Branca is located at 2400 m in the Ortles Cevedale Mountain. It has one big dormitory, hot and cold water, toilet and shower, bar, telephone and wi-fi connection. Bed linen and towels are not included. All participants will share the same dormitory area, have lunches in the field and dinner at the rifugio. Bringing a sleeping bag is suggested.

Accommodation at Milano Bicocca is within the Campus, at 5 to 10 minutes distance from the lecture and practical area. Accommodations is in double rooms. Single rooms are available upon explicit requests and extra payment. A questionnaire to make option explicit will be send to the participants.

Within the University of Milano Bicocca (UNIMIB)

Lectures, practicals, coffee breaks, and announcements

U1 – U4 Building, Piazza della Scienza 1, Milano
U12 Building, Via Vizzola 5, Milano


To reach Milano, different options are available:


Airports Milano Linate (LIN)

Malpensa International Airport of Milan (MPX)

Bergamo (BGX)

The three airports offer frequent busses and/or trains to reach the Central Station, which is connected to Bicocca by bus 87 (2 Euro) or taxi (around 15 Euro). From Linate you can also take bus 73 to Duomo (M1) and then Metro M1 + Tram 7 (stop “Università Bicocca Scienza)


Most national and international trains arrive at Milan Central Station or at Porta Garibaldi Station. Both stations are well connected to Bicocca: from Central Station you can either take bus 87 (2 Euro) or a taxi (around 15 Euro), from Porta Garibaldi Station you can take the purple line (M5) of the Metro (2 Euro) or a taxi (around 15 Euro).

About the Area

The Stelvio National Park, between the Italian regions of Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige, is the largest nature park in the entire Alpine region, covering 134,620 hectares. It is located in the heart of the Central Alps and includes the entire Ortles-Cevedale massif and its side valleys. It offers all kind of alpine landscapes: glaciers and alpine pastures, mountain meadows and valley basins.

Milan has become the capital for fashion, innovation and design. For only one day exploration, these are the 3 unmissable stops for a city tour:

  1. Milano’s Duomo and a tour of the historic centre
  2. Piazza della Scala and the Opera House
  3. Brera and the Pinacoteca
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