Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Scientists and engineers working together for a sustainable future

Tagged: Brazil

Three months of working at Departamento de Fisica-Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil

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📥  Internships & visits, Research updates

First year PhD student Serife Ustuner went on a three-month internship at University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil. We asked her how she got on.


Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a first year PhD student in the CSCT and I am based in Electrical & Electronic Engineering Department of University of Bath.  My research looks into development of Electrochemical Detection techniques for diagnosis of disease such as cancer.

First of all, what made you go all the way to Brazil for your internship?

Some good networking by the end of my MRes project! I met Marina Batistuti, who had been an exchange PhD student from University of São Paulo (USP) within my supervisor’s lab. I had no idea that there was such a huge electrochemistry community in Brazil. We never lost contact after she left, so I decided to go for a PhD project on electrochemical detection for disease diagnosis after finishing my MRes project. My supervisor, Dr Pedro Estrela has an ongoing partnership with University of Sao Paulo and he recommended me to consider this great opportunity. So one email, a couple of skype meetings and the plan was set to meet Marina and her supervisor in USP, Prof Marcelo Mulato. A couple of months after, I found myself on placement at USP in a beautiful forest land, within heart of Brazil!

Crossing a river with a buggy placed on a boat – Natal, Brazil

What made you pick an academic setting over an industrial one?

To be honest, it’s an offer that comes once in a lifetime, I just couldn’t miss out. The challenge was real! I had six-weeks of time frame and so many tasks to overcome;

  • Moving to a completely different country, where English still remains a massive barrier over communication with locals.
  • Adapting to a completely different research environment.
  • Finding ways of getting my project essentials delivered all the way to Brazil.
  • Being introduced to completely new instruments.
  • Having no time for exploring more about the instruments, but making them work for my own research.
  • I could feel the clock ticking in my head constantly, we had loads in mind that we wanted to try and experiment while I was there but the time limit was quite challenging.

It has been an educational experience, which I believe is completely different from doing solely an academic or industry based internship, especially talking in terms of adaptation and time management skills.

Tijuca Forest National Park – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tell us more about your work during this internship in Brazil?

I worked as a researcher within Sensors Lab, that was located in Physics Department of University of Sao Paulo. I was introduced to a mass sensitive detection platform, QCM-d (Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation). The device comes with additional and useful features compare to the traditional one we have here at University of Bath. The aim was working on a design that adopts the device for the detection of a pathogenic bacteria. Electrochemistry is an expanding research area in Brazil and I had the opportunity to attend one of the biggest electrochemistry conferences while I was there, 'XXI SIBEE – Simposio Brasileiro de Eletroquimica e Eletroanalitica'. I was amazed by the variety of research presented during this five day-long conference.

SIBEE Conference 2017- Natal, Brazil

Any interesting facts you would like to share about Brazil?

Couple I have in mind;

  • Their winter is pretty much like summer, even warmer than a British summer.
  • I have never been a big fan of fruits, but the variety and the freshness they had in Brazil made me fall in love with them. I still do miss that.
  • Locals loved calling me ‘Americana’. Although I tried explaining couple times that I am Cypriot and never actually been to America.
  • They are the warmest and the friendliest people ever.
  • Brazilian Barbecue – it’s a strong challenge.
  • PhD Vivas last for at least 6 hours in Brazil, where families/friends can enter and watch with snacks/popcorns. I have attended two, it's a very different/fun experience.

If you ever get such an opportunity to do a research internship in Brazil, I do recommend, with my all heart, not to miss it!

Sensors Lab Group - USP, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil

 

British weather in Brazil...Challenges in Chemical Renewable Energy conference

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📥  Seminars & Conferences

This post is contributed by Joe Donnelly.

During September a trio of CSCT students (Myself, Jonathan Wagner and David Miles) attended Challenges in Chemical Renewable Energy (ISACS17), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Joe_Donnelly_ISACS17_01The 12 hour flight from Heathrow was a relatively pleasant affair, despite a lady sat next to me enjoying a 12 hour headphone techno marathon - something which would have been annoying if it was not so impressive. We went appropriately packed for sun, sea and sand, ready to hit Copacabana. Although Dave had forgotten his flip flops this was easily remedied owing to the many flip flop vendors in the area - however, Rio had apparently been saving all of its cloud and rain for our arrival- alas the bottom fell out of our plans (and the bag containing Dave's new flip flops). But after all, we are British and unless we were going to need a dinghy to get to the beach front bars, it was going to happen. When we were not at the conference or supporting the local beachfront economy, we found some time to go and see Christ the Redeemer and a few other local attractions.

Joe_Donnelly_ISACS17_02The conference was attended by around 100 people from a range of backgrounds/disciplines making for an interesting mix. The small size of the conference also allowed for conversation opportunities with most of the presenters. Research topics focussed on upgrading of bio-derived resources- something which I was personally attending for, and also many interesting talks on solar fuels and photovoltaics. It was interesting to see these different disciplines being discussed in the same stream as each other and led to interesting discussions about where exactly each of the technologies would fit in the future energy mix. The conference was concluded by a panel discussion on this very issue, and included representatives from industry, academia and government.

Overall the conference was a valuable experience, with the opportunity to talk to some leaders in the field without them being whisked away to prearranged meetings after their talks. It is worth noting however that there was only one stream, and due to the relatively diverse nature of topics on show, not all talks were of particular relevance to any one person.

Joe is working towards his PhD on "(Bio)catalytic synthesis of a novel transport fuel substitute from industrially produced ferementation products" with Dr Chris Chuck, Dr Marcelle McManus and Dr Chris Bannister.