The first University in Florence was the Studium Generale, which was established by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The modern university dates from 1859, when a group of higher-studies institutions grouped together in the Istituto di Studi Pratici e di Perfezionamento, which a year later was recognized as a full-fledged university by the government of newly unified Italy. In 1923, the Istituto was officially denominated as public University by the Italian Parliament.

The University of Florence is nowadays one of the largest organizations for research and higher training in Italy. More than 50000 students are enrolled in 12 different schools and the academic staff (about 1600 internal research staff, 1400 post graduate researchers, 750 research assistants) work in a wide range of disciplinary and scientific fields and belong to 21 different departments. Approximately 50 research structures and 10 centres are dedicated to research and knowledge transfer. The researchers involved in the project belong to the Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Bioinformatics and Biochemistry (Department of Experimental, Clinical, Biomedical Science “Mario Serio”) research teams. Main fields of interest are wastewater, gas and waste treatment, as well as microbial communities characterisation. The research team of the local unit responsible (prof. G. Munz) is composed by four permanent staff working in research and innovation projects in strict collaboration with private institutions where three different joint private-public laboratory are hosted and where about 12 PhD, Postdoc and graduated fellows are carrying out research projects funded by Tuscany Region, Italian Ministry of University and Research and European Union.

In the last 5 years the group has more than 70 peer-reviewed international journals publications as well as an important participation in international conferences.

During the last 20 years the research activity was mainly dedicated to biological processes applied to industrial and domestic wastewater treatment. The expertise developed concerns: biological processes for wastewater, gas and waste treatment; mathematical modelling of biological processes; characterization of kinetic and stoichiometric parameters; online monitoring and automatic control of biological nutrient removal; bioinformatics and molecular techniques for microbial communities monitoring; biological processes control in suspended, biofilm and granular systems.