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Master in

Animal nutrition

Next edition: 1st part: 27 September 2021 – July 2022 / 2nd part: September 2022 – June 2023

Master in

Animal nutrition

Next edition: 1st part: 27 September 2021 – July 2022 / 2nd part: September 2022 – June 2023

Interest of this Master

The livestock production sector demands expert professionals in nutrition that are aware of the need to vary the traditional bases of production and that can adapt to the new requirements of the sector:

  • To satisfy consumer demand and assure product quality and variety so that livestock farms and industries can continue to be competitive on the market.
  • To guarantee high productivity, whilst considering the interaction between the nutrition and feeding processes and product quality and safety, minimizing environmental impacts and continuing to make a contribution to the management of natural and rural areas, which are particularly fragile in the Mediterranean area.

The programme is delivered in an international and interprofessional environment, with a large number of guest experts from different countries and prestigious public and private institutions in the field of animal nutrition invited to participate as lecturers, thus enriching the content of the programme and guaranteeing the exchange of ideas and points of view.

The Master has an essentially applied orientation, with numerous practical training activities so as to acquire valuable skills for professional and scientific activity in the speciality. The specialization profile of this degree enables students to undertake technical responsibilities in this domain as well as to perform high-level scientific research.

This Master learning objectives are to provide:

  • The scientific basis and fundamental mechanisms of modern animal nutrition, and knowledge of relevant methods and techniques contributing to a greater efficacy of animal nutrition processes and of associated research.
  • Criteria and aptitudes to integrate the different components of an animal nutrition programme, considering the interaction of nutrition processes with animal health and welfare and minimizing the impact on the environment, and to assess the advantages and drawbacks of using different strategies and methodologies from a perspective based on the sustainability of production and on securing safe and quality animal food.
  • Capacity to plan and implement animal nutrition programmes in different situations and environments, drawing up specific nutrition strategies according to the type of feed sources, their components and nutritional value, the programme objectives set, and the species-related, environmental and socioeconomic conditions.
  • Experience in planning and carrying out a work of initiation to research in animal nutrition and feeding whose results may be potentially publishable, working under the supervision of a tutor but in a manner that must be largely autonomous.
  • Mastering of the scientific and technical information underpinning the research conducted, command of the techniques and methodologies relevant to such research, and capacity to objectively evaluate the significance of its results and conclusions.
  • Skills to communicate the reasoning and conclusions of tutored work carried out in a group or autonomously, to prepare informative and summary papers, and to prepare and present oral communications delivered and defended before an audience.
  • Aptitudes and attitudes for multidisciplinary and intercultural teamwork.

Outcome profile
Nutrition is one of the main pillars of livestock production. Upon completion of the Master, as a specialist in nutrition, the student will have career opportunities in: the compound feed industry; livestock farms, planning and supervising animal nutrition in the different stages of production and development; technical advisory services assisting livestock cooperatives, farms and industries on feeding and nutrition-related issues; livestock production services of the administration; research teams in universities, research centres and companies.

Information on the students
The students of this Master proceed mainly from CIHEAM member countries (Albania, Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey), although they may come from other parts of the world, in particular, Europe and Latin America.

In the last 10 editions of the Master 248 students from 26 countries have participated:

  • Mediterranean countries, members of CIHEAM: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey
  • Other Mediterranean countries: Palestine, Syria
  • Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
  • Other countries: Mozambique

Characteristics and organization

This Master is an official Master of the Spanish university system within the framework of the European Space for Higher Education. This Master has a clear international character and it has been on offer since 2007, its contents being updated and revised for each new edition.  It originates from an International Master in “Animal Production” that had been organized at IAMZ since 1979, for 14 editions, and was structured in three parts, one of which was animal nutrition and feeding. Experts from UZ, UPM and UAB participated in this part as scientific advisors and lecturers.

Duration, mode and study regime

The Master has a duration of two years (120 ECTS) and is delivered on a face-to-face mode, full time basis. The Master begins every second year, so candidates may only register every two years.

The credit system follows the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), where one credit equals 25 workload hours (including lectures, practical work, tutorials, preparing and sitting examinations, and personal and group work). The total workload hours per academic year is 1500.

In order to access the second part of the Master, it is necessary to have passed the first one and submit an experimental protocol duly endorsed by the tutor to the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master.

The period between registration to the first part of the Master and the Master of Science awarding date may not exceed four years. In exceptional, and duly justified cases, special exemptions may be granted.

Scientific direction and academic co-ordination

The Master scientific direction is performed by Manuel Fondevila (University of Zaragoza, also coordinator of the Master at UZ) and Gerardo Caja (Autonomous University of Barcelona).

The Master programme avails of a technical coordinator (Armando Occón) belonging to the IAMZ staff, who is in charge of supervising all those aspects related to the Master development and daily follow-up of the programme. The coordinator deals with the students’ suggestions and claims, acting as liaison between them, the scientific directors, the lecturers, the IAMZ administration and the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master.

Lecturers are assigned a time devoted to tutorials and clarification of doubts during their lecturing period. In the case of guest lecturers, IAMZ facilitates anytime the contact between them and the students throughout the programme, even when they are no longer present physically.

For the individual project of the first part of the Master students are assigned a supervisor to orientate them in their work plan and assess different applicable strategies. Supervision is also provided by the scientific coordinators of the Master. When choosing the professional training stage during the first part of the master, students are advised on possible institutions for their placement, and the scientific directors and technical coordinator of the Master supervise the activity.

Students, if they request so, are assessed by the scientific directors of the Master, the technical co-ordinator and the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master on the choice of the research work to be carried out during the second part of the Master, as well as on the choice of the research project director and the most appropriate institution for this activity. The Master’s organizing institutions also propose topics related to their research activities or other topics of interest previously arranged with a collaborating institution.

While carrying out the research work, each student has the guidance and advice of the research project director, who must be a PhD of acknowledged prestige in the topic chosen.

Competences of this Degree

General competences

  • GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • GC2 Performing scientific and/or technical information searches and processing them selectively.
  • GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.
  • GC4 Making decisions and generating new ideas and knowledge in complex systems.
  • GC5 Learning and working autonomously, responding to unforeseen situations and re-aiming a strategy if necessary.
  • GC6 Team-working and promoting exchange and collaboration attitudes with other students, researchers and professionals.
  • GC7 Communicating reasoning and conclusions both to a general audience and to a specialized public.
  • GC8 Writing presentations and synthesis, preparing and presenting oral communications, and defending them in public.

Specific competences

  • SC1 Knowing the characteristics of different feeds and their components and how to evaluate their nutritional value.
  • SC2 Understanding the processes involved in digestion and the metabolism of nutrients, estimating animal nutrient requirements and calculating and controlling feed intake.
  • SC3 Performing well in professional environments, such as the feed mill industry, and being aware of the practical application of methods and techniques.
  • SC4 Using the methodology deployed in the evaluation of quality and safety standards in foods and compound feeds and animal origin products.
  • SC5 Determining optimum feeding, from a technical and economic point of view, for a certain livestock species in given production conditions.
  • SC6 Understanding the relationships between animal nutrition, the environment and animal health and welfare.
  • SC7 Developing feeding strategies with a favourable influence on end product quality and animal health and welfare, minimizing environmental impacts ensuring the sustainability of productions.
  • SC8 Understanding the principles of statistics and experimental design in animal nutrition programmes and conducting statistical analysis of experimental results using the relevant computer analysis programs.
  • SC9 Reaching conclusions from the results of previous experimentations and knowing and using models and decision support systems of interest in the speciality.
  • SC10 Appreciating the advantages of the innovations in animal nutrition and their possible incorporation into traditional nutrition programmes.
  • SC11 Planning research projects, determining their objectives and the various stages to accomplish.
  • SC12 Assessing the suitability of methods and techniques potentially applicable to a research project previously determined within the scope of animal nutrition and knowing how to use the most relevant techniques.
  • SC13 Designing and implementing the necessary experiments for research in animal nutrition, obtaining and analysing the results and drawing conclusions assessing their significance.


The programme of the Master is structured in two parts. The first part (60 ECTS) is professionally oriented and comprises lectures, practicals, personal and group work and study, individual supervised work, technical visits and a professional training placement. This part is delivered by UZ and UPM lecturers and guest lecturers of acknowledged experience from international institutions and universities, research centres, administration services and companies from different countries. The second part (60 ECTS) focuses on initiation to research, applying discerningly the knowledge, skills and competences acquired in the first part of the Master to the tackling of real issues related to animal nutrition and feeding. This part of the Master is carried out at UZ or other prestigious universities, research centres or companies, generally in Spain or the student’s country of origin, under the supervision of a research project director, who must be a PhD with experience and reputation in the research topic.

To see each Unit programme in detail, please refer to the section Syllabus and Study guide.

First part of the programme

Unit 1. Principles of animal nutrition (10 ECTS)
Provides the student with the scientific principles of animal nutrition and feeding, furthering knowledge of the chemical composition and physical properties of feeds, digestion processes, nutrient metabolism, feed evaluation systems, nutrient requirements, and intake control and estimation mechanisms. It includes a series of practical activities to analyse feeds and make a nutritional evaluation as well as to estimate intake and nutrient requirements.

Unit 2. Feedstuffs and feed technology: composition, quality  and safety (10 ECTS)
Provides the student with essential knowledge and skills for a professional in animal nutrition, to be able to use livestock feeds appropriately and guarantee optimum nutrition for the animals, mastering the use of different types of available raw materials and elaborated feeds, the determination of their nutritional value, the factors affecting their conservation and quality, and the feed manufacture technology. The treatment of topics lies within the context of the sustainability of production and obtention of safe and high quality products. The practicals conducted in the laboratory train students in the skills to make a practical evaluation of the quality and safety standards of livestock feed and the technical visits of the programme put them in contact with the real situations in feed manufacture.

Unit 3. Animal feeding, and food quality and safety (15 ECTS)
The concepts, techniques and methods learnt in the two previous units are applied to determine practical feeding strategies in the different livestock species. The student learns to establish the most appropriate feeding in the different stages of production, both from a technical and economic perspective. The treatment of the topics considers the incidence of feeding in end product quality. The practical activities train the student in ration calculation and feed formulation skills, as well as quality and safety analysis of animal products. The technical visits provide first-hand knowledge of the feeding strategies and methods practised in large livestock firms acknowledged for their good codes of practice and production quality and safety.

Unit 4. Mathematical and statistical methods in animal nutrition (5 ECTS)
Provides the student with knowledge and skills to analyse information available in experimental databases related to the speciality, to design experiments and to make statistical analyses of the data from such experiments. Furthermore it introduces the student to the application of models and decision support systems for prediction, evaluation and optimization of the physiological and nutritional processes and for ration calculation. The practical activities provide the student with skills in statistical analysis, meta-analytical studies and in the use of relevant software for statistical analysis and modelling.

Unit 5. Repercussions of nutrition on the environment and on animal health and welfare (6 ECTS)
Allows the student to learn the relationship between animal nutrition and animal health and welfare, emphasizing the factors of management that lead to safer and higher quality products. Likewise it underlines the main interactions between animal nutrition and the environment, providing the student with the necessary information and skills to establish feeding strategies and minimize the impact of nutrition. Through the practical activities the student learns to evaluate the impacts and become acquainted with environmentally-friendly production systems.

Unit 6. Individual project (7 ECTS)
Throughout the first part of the Master students carry out an individual project on new techniques or methodologies in animal nutrition and their application in a productive context. Alternatively, the project may focus on the design of a nutrition programme for a given species, applied to a certain productive system and to the conditions of a specific zone, normally in the student's country of origin. The topic of the project is decided upon in accordance with the interest of the student, following approval of the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Master Studies Commission. The project is conducted with the support of tutors, under the supervision of both scientific directors of the Master.

Unit 7. Professional training stage related to animal nutrition (7 ECTS)
The last month of the first part of the Master is dedicated to a professional internship to apply the knowledge acquired, to gain practical experience and to gain insight into issues pertaining to the sector. These internships are organized in feed mill industries, modern livestock farms and other types of institution related with the sectors of animal nutrition or animal product quality. Upon completion of the internship in the firm or institution, the student must present a written report, following the detailed instructions provided.


Second part of the programme

Unit 8. Introduction to research (30 ECTS)
This Unit provides the background knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for the planning and realization of research or professional projects in a given topic within the Master speciality. The topic is chosen according to the educational and professional interest of the student, and can take place in various universities, research centres and companies collaborating in this part of the programme. It is a practical professional placement in which the student, under the supervision of a tutor, works and learns autonomously and benefits from being included in a working team. Training focuses on understanding the scientific-technical objectives of the research or work carried out by the host team on the topic chosen for the research, on the handling of the instrumentation and equipment used by such team, on the identification of sources of knowledge relevant to the topic and on the effective planning of work.

Unit 9. Master’s final work (Master Thesis) (30 ECTS)
Represents the application of the training received to the production of an original research project on a specific topic, within the scope in which the student has performed the Unit "Introduction to research", and whose results are potentially publishable. The student is provided with training and supervision to master the application of techniques and methods selected for the research and for becoming able to objectively assess the significance of the results and conclusions obtained. Likewise, the student is endowed with the necessary training in order to produce a written document on the project carried out, and submit and orally defend the research results before a jury.


First part of the Master (first academic year)

It usually starts at the beginning of October and finishes at the beginning of June. This part takes place during morning and afternoon, with two periods of vacation: Christmas (3 weeks) and Easter (2 weeks). The exact dates are determined each year according to the annual planning of the academic year and are announced in advance.

Units 1 to 5 are developed sequentially. Unit 6 “Individual project”, consists of the application of the training received in the different units of the first academic year and therefore takes place over the two semesters, the presentation and defence of the project being the last activity of the programme. Unit 7 takes place in the last month of the programme. To see the specific timetable for each Unit, please refer to the section Syllabus and Study guide.

Second part of the Master (second academic year)

The Units "Introduction to Research” and the Master’s final project (Master Thesis) are developed during the third and fourth semesters, amounting in total a maximum duration of 10 months. The “Introduction to research” usually begins in early September, although, depending on the Protocol established or the convenience of the tutor and the host institution, the starting date may be delayed or slightly brought forward, prior acceptance of the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master. Since this second part of the programme occurs in the collaborating institutions (universities, research centres or companies), the working schedule and holiday calendar is adapted to the specific requirements of such institutions.


Before the beginning of the first part of the Master, during the months from July to September, an intensive Spanish language course is organized for those students who need it (for more details, please refer to the epigraph "Spanish language course", under the section Practical information for the students). To see the language knowledge specific requisites, please refer to the section Access, admission and scholarships.

In the first part of the programme, the lectures of Units 1 to 5 are delivered in Spanish, English or French. In the latter two cases, simultaneous interpretation is provided into Spanish. The handouts provided by the lecturers may also be written in Spanish, English or French. The exams can be taken either in Spanish, French or English. In Unit 6, the students may write their individual project and present and defend it in Spanish, English or French. In Unit 7, the tutorials during the placement are normally held in Spanish although students, tutors and their working teams may agree to conduct them in another language. The report may be submitted in Spanish, English or French.

In the second part of the programme, the tutored training is usually performed in Spanish, although by agreement between the students and the tutors and their working teams, this may be done in another language, especially when the training takes place abroad. The periodical reports may be sent in Spanish, French or English. The oral exam before the Jury may also be performed in Spanish, English or French. In Unit 9, the students may write the Thesis document and carry out the oral presentation and defence in any of the three languages: Spanish, English or French.

Lecturers of the first part of the Master

The quality of the lecturers guarantees high-level training and constant updating of topics. The diversity of their origin, both geographical and institutional, contributes to the dynamism of the courses and enables the students to contrast different theories, methods and results.

In the Master’s last edition, 84 lecturers from 8 different countries have participated, coming from:

Universities: France: AgroParisTech, Bordeaux Sciences Agro, SupAgro Montpellier; Puerto Rico: Universidad de Mayagüez; Spain: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad de Córdoba, Universitat de Lleida, Universidad de Zaragoza, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Universitat Politècnica de València, Universidad Pública de Navarra; United Kingdom: Scotland's Rural College, University of Aberdeen, University of Aberystwyth, University of Newcastle, University of Nottingham; United States: Ohio State University.

Research Centers: Canada: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC); France: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA); Spain: Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA-GA), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario (SERIDA); United Kingdom: The James Hutton Institute; Venezuela: Instituto de Estudios Avanzados (IDEA).

Enterprises and other private bodies: Asfac, Biología y Nutrición S.A., Consultants, Imasde Agroalimentaria, Nutreco, Zoetis (US).

International Organizations: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (headquarters in Italy), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (headquarters in Italy).

To see in detail who are the lecturers providing training in every Unit, please refer to the section Syllabus and Study guide.

Master’s final work (Master Thesis)

Choice of topic for the Master Thesis

The choice of topic corresponds to the students themselves, according to their interest of training. If students so require, they receive advice on the choice of the most appropriate director and institution to carry out the desired project. Likewise the organizing institutions propose topics related to the activities of cooperative research co-ordinated by them or other topics of interest previously agreed with collaborating institutions. The topic for the Thesis will belong to the area within which the student has developed the Unit "Introduction to research".

Centres where Theses are carried out

The work is carried out in renowned institutions (universities, research centres or companies) generally in Spain or in the student's country of origin, under the scientific supervision of a doctor of renowned prestige. The student, with the support of the director, should inform the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission of the Master periodically on the development and progress of the work.

The collaboration established with numerous prestigious institutions in the different specialities of the Master for carrying out the Thesis is critical in the success of the programme. The students develop their training within a framework of team research, counting on excellent resources and expert advice. The experience gained during this period is not simply an acquisition of knowledge and practical skills, but also fully introduces the students into professional reality.


In order to develop this Unit (as in the case of Unit 8) the student must have passed the first part of the Master and submit a research protocol supported by a director. The Protocol should be examined by an evaluation committee formed by the UZ/IAMZ-CIHEAM Studies Commission and lecturers of the Master, who will consider:

  • The characteristics of the research to be performed: (i) coherence and viability of the project; and (ii) concordance between the chosen theme and the candidate’s previous training, the foreseeable professional insertion and the training or productive demands in the student’s country of origin
  • The scientific guarantees and the suitability of the director and the institution where the project is to be carried out

In the course of the second semester of the first academic year, IAMZ publishes the basis for the presentation of protocols and scholarship applications for the second part of the programme.

Topics for the Master Thesis

The topic choice for the Master Thesis is very wide. Some of the topics chosen most frequently are the following:

  • Effects of diet composition and additives on nutrient absorption, production performance and reproductive parameters
  • Feed value of different products and by-products
  • Effect of nutrition on animal product quality
  • Influence of nutrition on the environment
  • Consequences of nutrition in animal health and welfare
  • Modelling in animal nutrition

Some examples of Master Thesis

Some of the theses carried out in recent years can be found below, as an indication of the variety of themes, directors and institutions involved in this training activity:

Title: Influencia de la alimentación en la presencia de Salmonella y composición del microbioma intestinal en porcino extensivo [Feed influence on Salmonella presence and gut microbiome composition in extensive pig production] (2015)
Author: Inés Gaitán Marqueta, Veterinario, España
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Instituto de Agrobiotecnología y Recursos Naturales, CSIC/Universidad Pública de Navarra
Thesis directors: Mª Jesús Grillo y Victoria Garrido

Title: Effet de l’ajout des graines riches en acides gras insaturés ayant des teneurs en fibres et des niveaux de lignification différents sur la réduction des émissions de méthane chez les ruminants in vitro [Effect of the addition of seeds rich in unsaturated fatty acids with different fibre contents and lignification levels on the reduction of methane emissions in ruminants under in vitro conditions] (2015)
Author: Manel Riahi, Ingeniero Agrónomo, Túnez
Centre where Thesis was carried out:  Departamento de Producción Animal, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Thesis directors: Javier Gonzalez Cano y Dolores Carro

Title: Effect of the nature of the carbohydrate source in diets of fattening on ruminal fermentation under in vitro conditions (2015)
Author: Zahia Amanzougarene, Ingeniero Agrónomo, Argelia
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Departamento de Producción Animal y Ciencia de los Alimentos, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de Zaragoza
Thesis director: Manuel Fondevila

Title: Maternal learning and creep-feeding: two strategies determining the post-weaning performance of piglets (2013)
Author: Laia Blavi Josa, Veterinarian, Spain
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Nutrició i Alimentació Animal, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Thesis directors: José Francisco Péréz and David Solá

Title: Utilización de ensilados de cultivos forrajeros invernales obtenidos con fertilización orgánica alternativos al raigrás italiano en la alimentación de vacas lecheras durante el período de transición [Use of winter forage silages made with organic fertilization as an alternative to Italian Ryegrass to feed dairy cows during the transition period] (2013)
Author: Mohamed Benaouda, Veterinarian, Algeria
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Área de Nutrición, Pastos y Forrajes, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario, Gobierno del Principado de Asturias, Villaviciosa, Spain
Thesis directors: Fernando Vicente and Adela Martínez

Title: Effect of dietary soluble fibre and threonine on digestion and growth performance in post-weaning rabbits (2013)
Author: Cecilia Alexandra Castillo Martínez, Zootechnician, Ecuador
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Departamento de Producción Animal, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
Thesis directors: Rosa Carabaño and Javier García Alonso

Title: Efecto del ácido oxálico sobre la fermentación ruminal y la comunidad microbiana del rúmen en ovejas [Effect of oxalic acid on rumen fermentation and the rumen microbial community in sheep] (2011)
Author: Mohamed Ben Bati, Agronomist, Morocco
Centre where Thesis was carried outDepartamento de Sistemas de Producción y Sanidad Animal, Estación Agrícola Experimental del León, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, León, Spain
Thesis directors: Pilar de Frutos and Álvaro Belenguer

Title: Energy utilization in entire, surgically-castrated and immunocastrated male pig (2011)
Author: Enrique Gonzalo Martínez, Agronomist, Spain
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Centre de Recherche de Rennes, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Le Rheu, France
Thesis directors: Jean Noblet and Jacob van Milgen

Title: Feed intake modeling in dry and lactating Manchega and Lacaune dairy sheep (2010)
Author: Manel Ben Khedim, Agronomist, Tunisia
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Departamento de Ciencia Animal y de los Alimentos, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain
Thesis director: Gerardo Caja

Title: Effects of dietary cation-anion difference in lactational performances of dairy ewes (2009)
Author: Andres Schlageter, Veterinarian, Chile
Centre where Thesis was carried out: Departamento de Ciencia Animal y de los Alimentos, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain
Thesis director: Gerardo Caja