Featured scientist: interview with Leonardo Mathias Leidens, winner of the national award for undergraduate research works.

Leonardo Mathias Leidens.
Leonardo Mathias Leidens.

When he answered the telephone on that May afternoon, Leonardo Mathias Leidens, 24 years old, thought it was a hoax. The president of CNPq (the Brazilian federal organization dedicated to the promotion of science and technology) was giving him the news that his undergraduate research (iniciação científica in Portuguese) had been chosen as the best in Brazil in the area of Exact, Earth and Engineering Sciences, in the sixteenth edition of the Prêmio Destaque na Iniciação Científica e Tecnológica.

However, in hindsight, if Leonardo had contained his excitement and looked back at that moment, he would have realized that the prize was in fact a likely consequence of a steady path through scientific knowledge, and a well-deserved recognition of his competency and dedication.

Leonardo was born in 1995 in Caxias do Sul, municipality of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul, of about 500 thousand inhabitants and an important industrial pole. After attending a public school in the city, always with excellent school performance, in 2013 Leonardo joined the undergraduate course in Chemical Engineering of the University of Caxias do Sul (UCS), a community university headquartered in Caxias do Sul, which has its campi in eight municipalities of the region.

In the first half of 2014, Leonardo found an opportunity to start doing science. He became a scientific initiation fellow, under the guidance of Professor Carlos A. Figueroa, leader in the UCS of a group of fundamental and applied research in Surface Science and Engineering, which would later receive the name of “Epipolé Group.” In this group, and always with the same advisor, Leonardo worked in several studies concerning the adhesion of amorphous carbon films as a scholarship holder of the university and then of the CNPq programs for undergraduate research. As a result of this work, Leonardo has today nine scientific papers (one of them as first author) published in international peer-reviewed journals, including some of the best journals in the area of surfaces and thin film.

In August 2016, Leonardo left the country for the first time to attend two semesters at the École Supérieure des Industries Chimiques (ENSIC), in the city of Nancy (France), after being selected as a fellow of BRAFITEC, a Brazilian federal program that supports the mobility of engineering students between institutions in Brazil and France. In this period, in addition to attend the courses, Leonardo presented, for the first time, a work in an international scientific event, the E-MRS 2017 Spring Meeting, held in the French city of Strasbourg.

After this enriching experience abroad, in mid-2017, Leonardo returned to Caxias do Sul and resumed his academic activities at UCS, including the undergraduate research in the Epipolé Group. In December 2018, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering with a 3.96 average out of a maximum of 4 in all of the subjects studied. As a result, on graduation day, Leonardo was awarded the Academic Laurel by the Rector of UCS.

Due to his experience in more than four years as an undergraduate research fellow, Leonardo decided to pursue a doctorate without undertaking masters studies (Masters degree is the usual step before PhD in Brazil). Thus, earlier this year, he became a doctoral candidate of the Postgraduate Program in Materials Engineering and Science (PGMAT) of UCS, again under the guidance of Professor Figueroa.

On July 23, Leonardo will receive his CNPq award at the ceremony to be held in the city of Campo Grande (State of Mato Grosso do Sul) during the 71st Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC).

See our interview with Leonardo.

box englishB-MRS  Bulletin: Could you tell us briefly how and when you started and developed your interest in science/research? And your desire to become a scientist?

Leonardo Mathias Leidens:  Curiosity has always been a perceivable characteristic of my personality. The will and concern to know the origin of “everything”, the whys and how things work led me to science, even if in a somewhat unconscious way. My parents always encouraged me to read and this was essential in the search for answers to my questions and in the development of creativity. More than that, as a child, I loved to work on simple experiments I learned on TV shows (unfortunately, the internet was not widely available in the 90s) or to create my own awkward experiments when I got a children’s chemistry kit (but with the simple instructions I would soon lose interest). Curiously, it took me quite a while to realize that combining all these things I did naturally and enjoyably could shape my career. It took a few years until, in high school, the penny dropped, and from there on I set out to achieve a new goal: to become a scientist. I entered the Chemical Engineering course with the intention of participating in Undergraduate Research activities and follow the academic career.

B-MRS Bulletin: Very briefly, what were the main competencies you have developed over the years as an undergraduate research fellow?

Leonardo Mathias Leidens: Basically, the greatest personal and professional development was the training in the “scientific method,” that is, the initial competency for training a scientist. Asking questions, seeking the state of the art and the answers already available for comparison with the presented reality and questioning/comparing the results became daily activities. In order to be able to develop all these research steps, training in complex equipment, data analysis and the proposal of ideas and projects were skills that I had to developed. In addition, throughout my scholarship I was able to improve languages, such as English (the language of science), as well as writing papers more meticulously and aptly for international journals, congresses, reports and projects.

B-MRS Bulletin: In your view, what were the most important factors that contributed to the achievement of the award-winning work?

Leonardo Mathias Leidens: Initially, it was the group’s trajectory, structure and experience in different approaches to minimize the adhesion problem of amorphous carbon films in ferrous alloys that allowed the work proposal and the result achieved, because with broad knowledge of the material system studied, it was possible to investigate in a meaningful way the problem and the positive modifications generated with the use of the hydrogen plasma. In my view, the success was the integration of basic science (the study of physicochemical mechanism of the treatment) with a real problem (to deposit the coatings under milder and efficient conditions on previously problematic substrates), which made the work complete and interesting in the scientific (knowledge generation) and industrial (applications with energy efficiency appeal) scopes.

B-MRS Bulletin: In another interview, you talk about being a scientist as a lifestyle, not just a profession. Tell us about that lifestyle that attracts you.

Leonardo Mathias Leidens: That expression has, fundamentally, two justifications. First, and as I said earlier, the scientific method was one of the most important learning aspects I have experienced over the years. It is applied not only in research but in various activities. Questioning and verifying everything (by tests and comparisons) are a scientist’s requirement, both inside and outside the laboratory. For example, in a society where never-ending information (of different qualities) is available, rigor becomes necessary to compare, select, and verify just how true or secure the sources are. On the other hand, science as a way of life means living science broadly. Integrating a diverse community, participating in projects and partnerships, and being able to make a difference in any area (no matter how small it looks) is much more than a profession. Finally, being part of a group of people who, with different backgrounds, stories and goals, come together and work for the generation of knowledge and advancement of humanity, even with so many difficulties, attracts me, encourages me and is a source of pride.

B-MRS Bulletin: You are currently in the first year of your doctorate. Have you thought about any project or career path after your PhD?

Leonardo Mathias Leidens: My advisor always suggests planning the next five years (at least)… It’s not always easy, especially in very unstable times. Regarding the doctorate, I would like to participate in a sandwich period at a university abroad because, having lived through this experience during my undergraduate studies, I realize the greater importance it would have in my scientific training as a doctor. Later, I intend to follow in the academic career, as researcher, in some institution here in Brazil or abroad.

B-MRS Bulletin: We invite you to leave some tips for our readers who are carrying out scientific initiation work in the area of Materials, answering the question “How to develop a national outstanding work.”

Leonardo Mathias Leidens: It’s not easy to directly suggest ways to produce a distinguished work because, to a certain extent, this is a consequence of a job well done and not the result of a “formula.” However, to reach the goal, I can say that one must take an active role in the research, proposing, without fear or apprehension, well-founded ideas for a problem of the area, even if at the beginning it is difficult and challenging for a undergraduate student. As we produce our own questions, we are encouraged to seek the answers and if they are not available, offer ways to obtain them Thus, with lots of work, dedication and scientific discussion, it is possible to transform a project into an outstanding work that can contribute to the advancement of a specific area and, more extensively, of society. However, one thing is fundamental: do not get absolutely discouraged when things do not go as planned. When we are on the frontier of knowledge, the result is not always the expected result – but this cannot curb the advance for further attempts.

With regards to me, as an undergraduate researcher in the Epipolé Group, I have always had the opportunity to participate actively in projects and discussions (and not only follow graduate students or do “mechanical” work, although these activities are also part of any undergraduate research grant and are important), even as a student of the initial undergraduate periods, and I enjoyed all these moments. This was instrumental in understanding how science is made and integrate with the group. Although greater responsibilities are created in these interactions, they were instrumental in the growth, encouragement and formation of a basis that allowed me to propose my own ideas, after a period of study and practice. For this, reading many scientific articles was also fundamental, besides being always abreast of the innovations of the area, but not forgetting to pay due attention to the scientific foundations, that is, the fundamental concepts.

Featured scientists: Interview with the winners of the Brazilian Award for best doctoral theses.

The list of the winners of the 2018 Capes Thesis Award was announced earlier this month. The award is given by Capes (the Brazilian federal government agency that is responsible for quality assurance in postgraduate courses in Brazil). It distinguishes the authors of the best doctoral theses defended in 2017 in postgraduate programs of Brazilian institutions. The awards ceremony will take place on December 13 in Brasilia.

The B-MRS Bulletin interviewed some of the winners, who were rewarded for their work on materials topics. Meet these young PhDs and their works.

Interview with Andrey Coatrini Soares, winner of the award for the best thesis in the area of Materials.

  • Thesis: Nanostructured films applied in biosensors for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Available at http://www.teses.usp.br/teses/disponiveis/18/18158/tde-30032017-080111/pt-br.php
  • Author: Andrey Coatrini Soares.
  • Advisor: Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior (São Carlos Institute of Physics of  USP – IFSC-USP).
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering of the University of São Paulo (USP).
Andrey Coatrini Soares
Andrey Coatrini Soares

Andrey Coatrini Soares (born in Aguaí – SP, 33 years old) began increasing research experience in her first undergraduate year in Physics at USP, when he began his scientific initiation stage, which ended when he got his degree in 2010. He then decided to pursue a master’s degree and later a doctorate, both in the program in Materials Science and Engineering of USP. All along those years, he had the guidance of Professor Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior, and worked with nanostructured films with applications in the health area. “Embracing a scientific initiation stage in the first undergraduate year and being able to work with researchers who are references in the field was crucial to accumulate experience in the area of the thesis subject,”  says the Capes Award winner who continues to work with nanostructured films for health, now as a postdoctoral fellow at IFSC-USP.

In his doctoral research, Soares developed a low-cost sensor, made from renewable materials, which detects pancreatic cancer in 8 minutes. The research was carried out in the Prof. Bernhard Gross Polymer Group of IFSC-USP, in partnership with the Molecular Oncology Research Center of the Cancer Hospital of Barretos, and with the Microfabrication Laboratory of the National Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM). “The combination of experience in the clinical area of the Barretos team, experience in the area of photolithography/devices of the CNPEM team and the experience in biosensors and thin films of the São Carlos team allowed a rigid selection of what types of materials would be used , the types of devices to be tested and, mainly, which type of cancer would be detected,” says Soares.

B-MRS  Newsletter: In your opinion, what is the most relevant contribution of the award-winning thesis?

Au interdigitated electrode functionalized with Anti-CA-19 antibodies for early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Au interdigitated electrode functionalized with Anti-CA-19 antibodies for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Andrey Coatrini Soares:  The major problem for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is the silent characteristic of the disease; that is, the tumor is only detected at an advanced stage. Therefore, this type of cancer has the highest mortality rate among all cancers (99.3%, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC). In addition, the current cost of the commercial diagnosis plus the detection time (approximately 40 minutes) are not allies of the patient. These were the key factors that led to our choice to develop a low-cost, low-speed miniaturized biosensor that could be implemented in clinics and hospitals, allowing clinicians, for example, to make decisions about patient care or analysis the efficiency of chemotherapy without the need to use invasive diagnoses.

B-MRS Newsletter: Cite the main results generated from the award-winning thesis.

Andrey Coatrini Soares: The work of the doctoral thesis developed a low cost diagnosis using biocompatible and biodegradable materials from renewable sources such as chitosan (found in shrimp exoskeleton) and concanavalin A (protein extracted from the seeds of Breadfruit). The versatility of these biosensors allows them to be implanted in patients for real-time screening of the biomarkers that are present in the blood. Each test costs R$ 5.00-6.00, which detects pancreatic cancer in just 8 minutes, using only 10μL of blood.

The thesis was also honored with the USP 2018 Thesis Highlight in the multidisciplinary area. It also has generated, to date, two papers published in the journals ACS Applied Materials and Interface and Analyst, an article in preparation, and 5 more works in collaboration with researchers who participated in the thesis, which report the development of other biosensors for the detection of breast cancer, head and neck cancer and HPV. These results have been widely disseminated in the media (Portal G1, FAPESP Research Magazine, FAPESP Agency, Portal Onconews,). In addition, a patent is under development and will be deposited in the future. The works are listed below:

  • Soares, A. C.; Soares, J. C.; Shimizu, F. M.; Rodrigues, V.C.; Awan, I.T.; Melendez, M.E.;  Piazzetta, M.H.O.; Gobbi, A.L.; Reis, R.M.; Fregnani, J.H.T.G.; Carvalho, A. L.; Oliveira Junior, O. N. A simple architecture with self-assembled monolayers to build immunosensors for detecting the pancreatic cancer biomarker CA19-9. Analyst 2018, 143, 3302-3308.
  • Soares, A. C.; Soares, J. C.; Shimizu, F. M.; Melendez, M. E.; Carvalho, A. L.; Oliveira, O. N. Controlled Film Architectures to Detect a Biomarker for Pancreatic Cancer Using Impedance Spectroscopy. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7 (46), 25930–25937. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b08666
  • Soares, A. C.; Soares, J. C.; Rodrigues, V.C.; Follmann, H. D. M.; Arantes, L.M.R.B.; Carvalho, A. C.; Melendez, M.E.; Reis, R.M.; Fregnani, J.H.T.G.; Carvalho, A. L.; Oliveira Junior, O. N. Microfluidic-Based Genosensors to Detect HPV16 in Head and Neck Cancer. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 2018.
  • Thapa, A.; Soares, A. C.; Soares, J. C.; Awan, I. T.; Volpati, D.; Melendez, M. E.; Fregnani, J. H. T. G.; Carvalho, A. L.; Oliveira, O. N. Carbon Nanotube Matrix for Highly Sensitive Biosensors To Detect Pancreatic Cancer Biomarker CA19-9. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2017, 9 (31), 25878–25886
  • Rodrigues, V.C; Comin, C. H.; Soares, J. C.; Soares, A. C. et al. Analysis of Scanning Electron Microscopy Images To Investigate Adsorption Processes Responsible for Detection of Cancer Biomarkers. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 20179 (7), 5885-5890.
  • Soares, J. C.; Iwaki, L. E. O.; Soares, A. C. et al. Immunosensor for Pancreatic Cancer Based on Electrospun Nanofibers Coated with Carbon Nanotubes or Gold Nanoparticles. ACS Omega 2017, 2 (10) 6975-6983.
  • Soares, J. C.; Soares, A. C.; Raymundo-Pereira, P. A. et al. Adsorption according to the Langmuir–Freundlich model is the detection mechanism of the antigen p53 for early diagnosis of cancer. RSC Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2016, 18, 8412-8418.
  • Soares, J. C.; Shimizu, F. M.; Soares, A. C.; Caseli, L.; Ferreira, J.; Oliveira, O. N. Supramolecular Control in Nanostructured Film Architectures for Detecting Breast Cancer. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7 (22), 11833–11841.

B-MRS Newsletter: From your point of view, what are the main factors that led to this outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Andrey Coatrini Soares: Teamwork, full dedication, in addition to funding from CAPES and FAPESP! In our work we had the participation of 12 researchers/collaborators in different areas of knowledge, from material engineers, chemists, physicists, physicians, geneticists and biologists. My sincere thanks to all of them: Prof. Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior, my advisor and mentor, Dr. Juliana Coatrini Soares, Dr. Valquiria da Cruz Rodrigues, Dr. Flavio Makoto Shimizu, Dr. Maria Helena Piazzetta, Dr. Rui Murer, Dr. Angelo Luiz Gobbi, Dr. Matias Melendez, Dr. Lidia Rebolho Arantes, Dr. Rui Reis, Dr. José Humberto Fregnani and Dr. André Lopes Carvalho, as well as Dr. Rodrigo Marques de Oliveira and André Brisolari, responsible for guiding the first steps in science. The national emphasis achieved by the work is the result of the effort by the entire team, competent and cohesive, that to a certain degree strives to return to the population the investment made in our training, through a product that is accessible to all layers of society.

B-MRS Newsletter: Leave a message to our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Andrey Coatrini Soares: Joining the academic arena means to be aware that virtually all learning will be built primarily by the questions you will ask, the mistakes you will make in trying to answer them, and how you will handle the challenges that the work will impose on you. It is within this growth that we learn to deal with the daily pressure for results and to face all the technical obstacles of the work. Undoubtedly, the satisfaction of overcoming each obstacle together with the satisfaction of contributing to science in a country that does not value researchers overcomes all the difficulties experienced during the doctoral period. Therefore, valuing each moment of individual or group work, every conversation with the advisor and, above all, valuing one’s achievements, even if they are minimal, is very important. And never leave behind the moments of leisure!

Interview with Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho, winner of the award for the best thesis in the area of Astronomy/Physics.

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho
Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho (born in Cuiabá – MT, 29 years old) has always liked optics. When he was a child, he wanted to know why the sky is blue, how the rainbow is formed…. However, until a few years ago he had not imagined he would become a PhD in optical spectroscopy.

Carvalho holds a degree and a Master’s degree in Physics from the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT). During the master’s degree, guided by professor Jorge Luiz Brito de Faria, he began to study two-dimensional nanomaterials through computational simulations. Influenced by the desire to analyze these materials experimentally, he decided to undergo a doctorate at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) under the guidance of Professor Marcos A. Pimenta, who was the author of interesting articles Carvalho had read regarding nanomaterials analysis by the Resonant Raman Spectroscopy technique. Thus, working in the Raman Spectroscopy Laboratory of UFMG, Carvalho obtained the main results of the awarded thesis.

As soon as he started his doctorate, Carvalho showed interest in an internship abroad to learn about interaction with other research groups, and he expressed it to his advisor. Thus, upon completing two years of his doctorate, Carvalho moved to the city of State College in the United States, where he spent a year participating in several research projects on two-dimensional materials and their applications, at the State University of Pennsylvania under the guidance of professor Mauricio Terrones. “It was a very demanding year of total dedication and focus, but also very productive,” says Carvalho, recalling the articles generated during this period and published in high impact periodicals, the dissemination of results in international sites and the collaborations with theoretical and experimental research groups. Currently Bruno de Carvalho is an adjunct professor at the Department of Theoretical and Experimental Physics of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN).

B-MRS Newsletter: In your opinion, what is the most relevant contribution of the awarded thesis?

Molecular model of a MoS2 monolayer excited by a green laser. The red light after the electron-phonon interaction.
Molecular model of a MoS2 monolayer excited by a green laser. The red light after the electron-phonon interaction.

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho: The main contribution is the double resonance model that we proposed to explain a Raman band, known as 2LA in MoS2, which is originated by a process of scattering between valleys. The new model presented to explain such a process can be extended to other two-dimensional systems. This was an open topic for more than 30 years in the scientific community, in the case of the material studied in the thesis, and we were able to propose an explanation.

B-MRS Newsletter: Cite the main results generated from the award-winning thesis.

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho: In the thesis we wanted to demonstrate that we had a specific problem and that we solved. Thus, the study of resonant Raman spectroscopy in MoS2 was the focus of the doctoral thesis. This work generated the two main articles of the thesis.

  • Carvalho, Bruno R.; Malard, Leandro M.; Alves, Juliana M.; Fantini, Cristiano; Pimenta, Marcos A.; Symmetry-Dependent Exciton-Phonon Coupling in 2D and Bulk MoS2 Observed by Resonance Raman Scattering. Physical Review Letters 114 (13), 136403 (2015).
  • Carvalho, Bruno R.; Wang, Yuanxi; Mignuzzi, Sandro; Roy, Debdulal; Terrones, Mauricio; Fantini, Cristiano; Crespi, Vincent H.; Malard, Leandro M.; Pimenta, Marcos A.; Intervalley scattering by acoustic phonons in two-dimensional MoS2 revealed by double-resonance Raman spectroscopy. Nature Communications 8, 14670 (2017).

Other papers that were also mentioned in the thesis:

  • Pimenta, Marcos A.; del Corro, Elena; Carvalho, Bruno R.; Fantini, Cristiano; Malard, Leandro M.; Comparative Study of Raman Spectroscopy in Graphene and MoS2-type Transition Metal Dichalcogenides. Accounts of Chemical Research 48 (1), 41-47 (2015).
  • Feng, Simin; dos Santos, Maria C.; Carvalho, Bruno R.; Lv, Ruitao; Li, Qing; Fujisawa, Kazunori; Elías, Ana Laura; Perea-López, Nestor; Endo, Morinobu; Pan, Minghu; Pimenta, Marcos A.; Terrones, Mauricio; Ultrasensitive molecular sensor using N-doped graphene through enhanced Raman scattering. Science Advances 2 (7), e1600322 (2016).
  • Carozo, Victor; Wang, Yuanxi; Fujisawa, Kazunori; Carvalho, Bruno R.; McCreary, Amber; Feng, Simin; Lin, Zhong; Zhou, Chanjing; Perea-Lopez, Nestor; Elias, Ana Laura; Kabius, Bernd; Crespi, Vincent H.; Terrones, Mauricio; Optical identification of sulfur vacancies: Bound excitons at the edges of monolayer tungsten disulfide. Science Advances 3 (4), e1602813 (2017).

B-MRS Newsletter: From your point of view, what are the main factors that led to this outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho: The infrastructure of the laboratory and of the institution where I conducted the research was fundamental to develop the work. The discussion with my mentors and the collaboration regime, made the work more robust and elegant, that is, when people from different points of view work together.

B-MRS Newsletter: Leave a message to our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Bruno Ricardo de Carvalho: My message is that they dedicate themselves to what they do. The doctorate is a phase of intense learning and dedication. To do science is to have a systematic posture, an open mind, a critical posture and spend many hours in the laboratory. All of this, with effort and dedication, generates work that will be recognized. And, much more than that, it will be work that you did and in my opinion this is the greatest satisfaction.

Interview with Henrique Bücker Ribeiro, winner of the award for the best thesis in the area of Engineering IV.

  • Thesis: Raman spectroscopy in two-dimensional materials. Available at: http://tede.mackenzie.br/jspui/handle/tede/3485
  • Author: Henrique Bücker Ribeiro.
  • Advisor: Eunézio Antonio de Souza (Mackenzie Presbyterian University).
  • Coordinator: Marcos Assunção Pimenta (Department of Physics, Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG).
  • Institution: Graduate Program in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mackenzie Presbyterian University.
Henrique Bücker Ribeiro
Henrique Bücker Ribeiro

Henrique Bücker Ribeiro (born in Belo Horizonte, MG, 36 years old) was a student of the Physics bachelor’s degree at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), when, in 2004, he started to analyze low-dimensional materials (those ranging from 1 atom to a few nanometers of thickness) using the Raman spectroscopy technique. Within a scientific initiation stage, guided by Professor Marcos Pimenta, he studied carbon nanotubes. In addition to guiding Ribeiro early in his career, Professor Pimenta introduced two professors from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Eunézio Antonio de Souza and Christiano José Santiago de Matos. “They played and play until now, alongside Marcos, irreplaceable roles as mentors and friends,” says Ribeiro.

From that contact, in 2014, Ribeiro began his doctorate at Mackenzie. There, he continued to study low-dimensional materials using Raman spectroscopy. Ribeiro started with bi-layered graphene and then continued with black phosphorus and monochalcogenides. In addition to the infrastructure at Mackenzie, Ribeiro used equipment from UFMG, CTNnano (Belo Horizonte), LNNano (Campinas), as well as computing centers from Unesp and Unicamp. Ribeiro’s thesis did not only generate knowledge about the studied materials, but also helped to improve the use of the Raman technique to probe this type of materials. Today, Ribeiro is in a postdoctoral program at Stanford University with the help of a FAPESP grant, where he continues to study low-dimensional materials, more precisely, optoelectronic processes of two-dimensional semiconductors.

B-MRS Newsletter: In your opinion, what is the most relevant contribution of the awarded thesis?

Henrique Bücker Ribeiro: I believe that the most important contribution of the thesis was to explain an unexpected effect observed when measuring the angular dependence of Raman spectra on black phosphorus. We were able to explain with this study that when analyzing the angular dependence of the Raman spectra for certain crystals, it is necessary to consider an unusual mathematical treatment. This work has become an important reference for researchers working with low dimensional materials similar to black phosphorus.

Artistic representation of black phosphorus flake illuminated by a green laser. Red light: scattered light with energy different from the incident (Raman scattering). When rotating the crystal, the angular dependency measurements should behave according to the gray line shown at the end of the red light, but behave like the green dots.
Artistic representation of black phosphorus flake illuminated by a green laser. Red light: scattered light with energy different from the incident (Raman scattering). When rotating the crystal, the angular dependency measurements should behave according to the gray line shown at the end of the red light, but behave like the green dots.


B-MRS Newsletter: Cite the main results generated from the award-winning thesis.

Henrique Bücker Ribeiro: The work mentioned above generated an article (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsnano.5b00698) that currently has more than 130 citations and is in the 1% of most cited articles in the area according to Essential Science Indicators, produced by Clarivate Analytics of the Thomson Reuters group.

The thesis is related to the following articles:

  • RIBEIRO, HENRIQUE B.; PIMENTA, MARCOS A. ; DE MATOS, CHRISTIANO J. S. ; MOREIRA, ROBERTO LUIZ ; RODIN, ALEKSANDR S ; ZAPATA, JUAN D. ; DE SOUZA, EUNEZIO A. T. ; CASTRO NETO, ANTONIO H. . Unusual Angular Dependence of the Raman Response in Black Phosphorus. ACS Nano, v. 9, p. 4270–4276, 2015.
  • RIBEIRO, H. B.; VILLEGAS, C. E. P. ; BAHAMON, D. A. ; MURACA, D. ; CASTRO NETO, A. H. ; de SOUZA, E. A. T. ; ROCHA, A. R. ; PIMENTA, M. A. ; de MATOS, C. J. S. . Edge phonons in black phosphorus. Nature Communications, v. 7, p. 12191, 2016.
  • RIBEIRO, HENRIQUE B.; PIMENTA, MARCOS A. ; DE MATOS, CHRISTIANO J.S. . Raman spectroscopy in black phosphorus. JOURNAL OF RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY, v. 49, p. 76-90, 2018.
  • RIBEIRO, H.B.; SATO, K. ; ELIEL, G.S.N. ; DE SOUZA, E.A.T. ; LU, CHUN-CHIEH ; CHIU, PO-WEN ; SAITO, R. ; PIMENTA, M.A. . Origin of van Hove singularities in twisted bilayer graphene. Carbon (New York), v. 90, p. 138-145, 2015.

In addition to articles from collaborations:

  • ELIEL, G. S. N. ; MOUTINHO, M. V. O. ; GADELHA, A. C. ; RIGHI, A. ; CAMPOS, L. C. ; RIBEIRO, H. B. ; CHIU, PO-WEN ; WATANABE, K. ; TANIGUCHI, T. ; PUECH, P. ; PAILLET, M. ; MICHEL, T. ; VENEZUELA, P. ; PIMENTA, M. A. . Intralayer and interlayer electron-phonon interactions in twisted graphene heterostructures. Nature Communications, v. 9, p. 1221, 2018.
  • ELIEL, G. S. N. ; RIBEIRO, H. B. ; SATO, K. ; SAITO, R. ; LU, CHUN-CHIEH ; CHIU, PO-WEN ; Fantini, C. ; RIGHI, A. ; PIMENTA, M. A. . Raman Excitation Profile of the G-band Enhancement in Twisted Bilayer Graphene. BRAZILIAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS, v. 47, p. 589-593, 2017.
  • COSTA, M C FERRAZ DA ; RIBEIRO, H B ; KESSLER, F ; SOUZA, E A T DE ; FECHINE, G J M . Micromechanical exfoliation of two-dimensional materials by a polymeric stamp. Materials Research Express, v. 3, p. 025303, 2016.
  • FARIA, PAULA C. ; SANTOS, LUARA I. ; COELHO, JOAO PAULO ; RIBEIRO, HENRIQUE BUCKER ; PIMENTA, MARCOS A. ; LADEIRA, LUIZ O. ; GOMES, DAWIDSON A. ; FURTADO, CLASCIDIA A ; GAZZINELLI, RICARDO . Oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes as antigen delivery system to promote superior CD8+ T cell response and protection against cancer. Nano Letters (Print), v. 14, p. 5458-70, 2014.

During my PhD I was awarded the Nanocell Institute of Scientists of the Year Award in the category ‘Nanotechnology: from production to application’.

B-MRS Newsletter:  From your point of view, what are the main factors that led to an outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Henrique Bücker Ribeiro: Open dialogue with my mentors, collaborations, development agencies, the post-graduation program and the university, discussions with colleagues, support from my parents, support from technicians, a good work environment, dedication and effort and many other factors. Good work can be achieved when all these elements are in place. The absence of just one is enough to jeopardize the work.

B-MRS Newsletter: Leave a message to our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Henrique Bücker Ribeiro: Do not expect good results to materialize immediately and do not be discouraged when this is the case. Most of the time things will go wrong and even then, nothing will be wasted. A good result can be achieved by overcoming these difficulties and thinking about the problem.

Interview with Adriano dos Santos, winner of the award for the best thesis in the area of Chemistry.

  • Thesis: Development of an impedimetric/capacitive biosensor for the detection of biomarkers of clinical importance. Available at: https://repositorio.unesp.br/handle/11449/150274
  • Author: Adriano dos Santos.
  • Advisor: Paulo Roberto Bueno (Institute of Chemistry of Araraquara – UNESP).
  • Co-advisor: Maria del Pilar Taboada Sotomayor (Institute of Chemistry of Araraquara – UNESP).
  • Institution: Institute of Chemistry of Araraquara, State University of São Paulo (UNESP).
Adriano dos Santos
Adriano dos Santos

For Adriano dos Santos (35, a native of Araraquara, São Paulo), the laboratory classes he had in the Chemistry undergraduate course at UNESP, in the Araraquara campus, were genuine foundations of his education. The tools and competences developed in these practical classes were very useful for Santos, both in the stages he performed in a company that produces paints and coatings, and in the stages of scientific initiation at UNESP, under the guidance of professors Antonio Eduardo Mauro and Paulo Roberto Bueno.

In 2010, Santos began his Master’s in Chemistry, also at UNESP under the guidance of Professor Bueno. During the master’s research, in which he developed a piezoelectric device to understand a biological process, Santos began to learn about biosensors-related topics and to develop a special interest in this research area. After defending the dissertation, and while working in a chemical company, Santos decided to do a doctorate in a subject related to biosensors. In 2013, he began the doctorate activities. Again under the guidance of Professor Bueno and co-advised by Professor Maria del Pilar Taboada Sotomayor, he developed his research project at the Institute of Chemistry of Araraquara, UNESP. From September 2016 to February 2017, Santos was at the University of Oxford (England) performing part of the research under the guidance of Professor Jason Davis. “This enabled me to expand my knowledge and critical analysis with invaluable gains in professional experience and qualification,” says Santos.

In his thesis, Santos presented a new application of existing techniques that generated biosensors with possible applications in the detection of thrombosis and cancer and in the study of biological phenomena. Currently, the prize winner continues working in this area with Professor Bueno, as a postdoctoral fellow.

B-MRS Newsletter: In your opinion, what is the most relevant contribution of the awarded thesis?

Adriano dos Santos: Biosensors are currently receiving considerable attention due to their economic (investment and market) and social (health impact and population quality of life) potential. These devices, in which the glucometer (device that measures the glucose content directly from the blood) is its greatest example, have the capacity to perform clinical diagnosis faster than the current methods, as well as limits of detection (smaller amount that can be detected in a sample) that is suitable for early diagnosis. Early detection is highly relevant when, for example, performing cancer diagnosis is desired. This is because the chances of cure and the survival time of patients with this disease are greatest when detected in the early stages.

In my thesis it was demonstrated that by means of an electrochemical transduction of a biological recognition signal, called electrochemical capacitance, and also through new data analysis known as immitance functions, there is the potential to diagnose certain diseases in a sensitive and early manner, including cancer and thrombosis, without the need to use enzymatic or fluorescent labels used in the current clinical analysis. In addition, the use of this innovative electrochemical approach in the development of interfaces with potential applications in glycobiology is also unprecedented. The importance of this approach is to provide a new tool that will help researchers understand processes that are related to the interaction of proteins and carbohydrates. In this context, it is possible to encompass cellular invasion processes (whose knowledge may assist in the development of vaccines), and the understanding of the mechanism of tumor formation and proliferation. It is possible that this new approach may one day be employed in developing a technological platform for the development of glycoarrays (that is, techniques that allow the study of interactions between proteins and carbohydrates).

(a)Example of an interface for the detection of biomarkers (molecules related to a certain disease). The interface consists of a monolayer composed of electroactive species and the recognition element (such as, for example, antibody). The interaction between the recognition element and the biomarker causes a change in the electrochemical capacitance signal (b), allowing to construct calibration or saturation curves (c).
(a)Example of an interface for the detection of biomarkers (molecules related to a certain disease). The interface consists of a monolayer composed of electroactive species and the recognition element (such as, for example, antibody). The interaction between the recognition element and the biomarker causes a change in the electrochemical capacitance signal (b), allowing to construct calibration or saturation curves (c).

B-MRS Newsletter: Cite the main results generated from the award-winning thesis.

Adriano dos Santos: Specifically from the thesis, there were five published works:

In addition, during the period of my PhD research, there were six more articles published, in partnership, on topics related to the thesis.

It is also important to emphasize that during this period, a clinical diagnosis company was created, with my thesis supervisor, Prof. Dr. Paulo Roberto Bueno, and Prof. Dr. Jason Davis of the University of Oxford, as the founders. This company, Osler Diagnostics, is a spinout located in the city of Oxford, England, which is using part of the research generated in this thesis for its technological development.

B-MRS Newsletter: From your point of view, what are the main factors that led to this outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Adriano dos Santos: There are many factors, such as the infrastructure of the institution that contains equipment and professionals capable of performing tests and measurements that underlie the theory, as well as research support from the library to the post-graduate technical section, including the entire staff; the excellence of the group of researchers from UNESP – Institute of Chemistry, which includes my advisor (Prof. Dr. Paulo Roberto Bueno) and co-adviser (Prof. Maria Del Pilar Taboada Sotomayor) of the thesis, who assisted me with much advice and learning; the possibility of attending international scientific events, in which the importance of mastering English as a second language was crucial to promote the exchange of knowledge with the researchers in the events; the partnership between UNESP and Oxford University through a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), which encourages researchers to carry out academic cooperation, raising the level of scientific discussion, and from which favored my internship abroad at this university, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Jason Davis; and the funding of federal (CAPES and CNPq) and state (FAPESP) agencies through thematic projects and a doctoral grant.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Institute of Chemistry-Campus of Araraquara (technicians, professors and researchers) involved in my thesis, to the University of Oxford, especially to Prof. Dr. Jason Davis, for having welcomed me to his laboratory, family and friends, as well as CAPES, CNPq and FAPESP for the financial support.

B-MRS Newsletter:  Leave a message to our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Adriano dos Santos: Science is beautiful, and like a sculpture it requires the effort to polish the stone so the art is revealed. The journey to the goal is like a course, often tortuous, that deceives us and forces us to redirect our trajectories. Science is not linear, in that knowledge is ready and finished, but rather a constant review and advance of what is being done, especially for applications in new technologies, which require “returns” and new interpretations of knowledge previously seen as untouchable. Thus, it can be characteristic for the undergraduate student (when in a scientific initiation), and especially for the postgraduate, to encounter unexpected or difficult to interpret results, which may often be grounds for discouragement and abandonment of his/her research project. The only way to overcome these problems is through ethical conduct and professionalism, knowing how to recognize one’s limitations and seek continuous help from his or her supervisor or other researchers in the area. And also always be open-minded and question oneself, not with skepticism, but with consideration to understand the system that is the study object.

Not less important is to remember that it is necessary for family to be close and for friendships to be cultivated. Setting aside leisure time such as hobbies and reading, different from those we are usually accustomed to in academia, are crucial. Consider practicing a physical activity and studying a second language, especially English, as there will certainly be opportunities in which that language will be crucial for career advancement, whether as a university professor or as a professional in a company.


Director and former president of B-MRS are chosen as coordinators of the areas of Materials and Astronomy/Physics at CAPES.

Prof. Antonio Eduardo Martinelli (left) and Fernando Lázaro Freire Jr (right).
Prof. Antonio Eduardo Martinelli (left) and Fernando Lázaro Freire Jr (right).

Two participating B-MRS members are listed among the new area coordinators (mandate 2018-2022) of CAPES, the Brazilian federal agency for the improvement of higher education, mainly graduate programs.

Professor Antonio Eduardo Martinelli (Department of Materials Engineering of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, UFRN) was reappointed as coordinator of the Materials Area of CAPES. Currently, Martinelli is a B-MRS Scientific Director and chairman of the XVII B-MRS Meeting. He was also director of the society in 2008-2009 and 2016-2017.

Professor Fernando Lázaro Freire Jr (Department of Physics of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, PUC-Rio) was chosen coordinator of the Area of Astronomy/Physics of CAPES. Member of the founding board of B-MRS, Freire Jr, served two terms as president of the society (2006-2007 and 2008-2009) and two as director (2004-2005 and 2012-2013). He coordinated the Physics and Astronomy Area of the Rio de Janeiro State Research Foundation (FAPERJ) from 2008 to 2012. He was director of the Brazilian Center for Research in Physics (CBPF) from 2011 to 2015 and director of the Department of Physics of PUC-Rio from 2003 to 2008.

According to CAPES, the area coordinators are consultants designated to coordinate, plan and execute the activities of their areas, including those related to the evaluation of graduate programs. The process of choosing the coordinators involves all the Brazilian graduate programs of the area in question, as well as the boards and authorities of CAPES.

Featured scientist: interview with Carlos Graeff.

Prof. Carlos Graeff
Prof. Carlos Graeff

Fascinated by science since he was a child, with a representative at his home (his father, a renowned neuroscientist), Carlos Frederico Oliveira Graeff, born at Ribeirao Preto (state of São Paulo), chose the area of Physics as his university studies. He obtained his bachelor’s (1989), master (1991) and doctor (1994) degrees in Physics from the University of Campinas (Unicamp). During his master’s and doctorate program, supervised by professor Ivan Chambouleyron, he took his first steps as a researcher in the Materials area with studies on materials based on germanium and silicon. During his doctorate he participated in a research internship at the Max Plank Institut für Festkörperforschung in Germany.

He returned to Germany in 1994 until 1996 for a postdoctoral period to work on electronic magnetic resonance, semiconductors and electronic devices at the Walter Schottky Institute of the Technische Universität München (TUM), with a grant from the German foundation Alexander Von Humboldt.

Upon returning to Brazil, he became a professor at the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the University of São Paulo (USP), where he remained for 10 years. In 2006, he joined the Faculty of Sciences of Bauru at the State University of São Paulo (UNESP) as a full professor, where he is still teaching and researching. Throughout his academic career, Graeff has been visiting professor or researcher at several institutions in France, China and Switzerland.

From 2007 to 2009, Graeff was coordinator of the Post-Graduate Program in Materials Science and Technology (POSMAT) at UNESP – Bauru campus. Between 2009 and 2014, he was the coordinator of the newly created Materials Area of CAPES, responsible for the evaluation of Brazilian post-graduate programs in Materials, among other functions. From 2011 to 2013, Graeff was president of the Humboldt Club of Brazil and in 2012 and 2013 he was scientific director of B-MRS. The scientist also fulfilled or performs management or advisory functions at Brazilian agencies FAPESP and CAPES, and at IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry).

In 2017, after having participated in the editorial board of several international journals, he was appointed associate editor in the photovoltaic area of the journal Solar Energy (impact factor 4,018), of Elsevier publishing house. Also in 2017, he became Dean of Research at UNESP, a post he holds until now.

With an h index of 28, Graeff is the author of about 200 indexed papers that have more than 2,500 citations, according to Google Scholar. In three decades of scientific work, together with his team at the Laboratory of New Materials and Devices at UNESP and his numerous national and international collaborators, Graeff has contributed to the field of materials research with multiple subjects. Among his most cited articles there are studies on synthetic diamond, silicon and germanium heterostructures, conjugated polymers, latex and melanin (biological material with semiconductor properties that are promising for the development of bioelectronic devices).

The researcher has also worked in the area of photovoltaic energy (direct conversion of solar radiation into electricity), with numerous contributions to the development of solar cells based on different materials (dyes, perovskites and organic semiconductors). On this subject of photovoltaic energy, Carlos Graeff will offer a plenary lecture at the XVII B-MRS Meeting, to be held in Natal (RN) from September 16 to 20.

The following is an interview with this outstanding researcher of our community.

B-MRS Newsletter: How or why did you become a scientist? Did you always want to be a scientist? Also, briefly tell us what led you to work in the field of materials.

Carlos Graeff: My father, Frederico Graeff, is a well-known researcher and perhaps one of the most important influences in my decision. My aunts were also teachers and researchers, so from an early age I had access to the world of science from my home, which has always fascinated me. The decision to study physics was largely due to the various books I read and from the television Cosmos series presented by Carl Sagan. The decision to work in the Materials area came later on during my baccalaureate in physics after the first courses in condensed matter physics and semiconductors. From the beginning of the graduate studies I worked in materials, and soon I was attracted by the interfaces of physics with chemistry and biology in very different subjects of materials science and engineering.

B-MRS Newsletter: What do you believe are your main contributions to the Materials area? Please consider all aspects of scientific activity.

Carlos Graeff: It is always difficult to choose key contributions. In my case in particular it is easy to see, reading my CV, a very eclectic trajectory in terms of studied materials and applications. Using originality as a preference, I will dwell on three themes; the first is the production of CoS (cobalt sulfide) the basis of ecological paints for the production of electrodes for solar cells. We have achieved a simple, industrial and ecological method to replace platinum in dye-based solar cells. In the second theme, we have proposed several alternative methods for the synthesis of melanin, the material involved in tanning, and with this we have been able to produce biocompatible materials with very special characteristics with regard to, for example, solubility. We are identifying a very important defect for this material using, as a main tool, computational simulations combined with spectroscopic techniques. We are sure this material will be important in the emerging area of bioelectronics. In the third theme, we describe in detail the whole degradation process of organic semiconductors, identifying routes for the production of high sensitivity dosimeters for applications in hospitals and clinics that use, for example, gamma rays for cancer treatments and diagnosis. We also have had very unique contributions in the physics of electrically detected magnetic resonance, increasing the sensitivity and the general understanding of the physical phenomena involved. In addition to these fundamental contributions, I was responsible, proudly and with satisfaction, for the implementation of the materials area at CAPES. Another source of satisfaction regards the good students I was fortunate enough to mentor, many of them brilliant scientists. I helped and coordinated the assemblage of several laboratories both here in Brazil and abroad, most recently I helped set up a magnetic resonance laboratory in China.

B-MRS Newsletter: Now we invite you to leave a message for our readers who are starting their scientific careers.

Carlos Graeff: I started my master’s degree in 1989, a time that was perhaps as troubled as the current one, do not get discouraged! With focus and a bit of luck it is always possible to create new ideas, build a solid career and contribute to our beautiful country. We are going through a great revolution, with the emergence of new technologies that will profoundly transform society. Intelligence will increasingly play a decisive role in the direction of our society, be prepared to work in this new world of great opportunities. Always seek out dialogue with specialists from the most different areas of knowledge and from various countries. Quite possibly, in the coming years we will unravel the mysteries of how the brain works, we will master limitless forms of energy and ecological production, generate artificial intelligence. Open up to what is new, be bold, Brazil needs your citizen and entrepreneurial spirit.

B-MRS Newsletter:  You will deliver a plenary lecture at the XVII B-MRS Meeting. Leave an invitation to our community.

Carlos Graeff: Photovoltaic energy is reaching its commercial maturity, we are living an unprecedented energy revolution. In the lecture I will show some updated data on the perspectives of using photovoltaic cells in Brazil and in the world; its principles of operation; the challenges for scientists and material engineers in this relentless race for increasingly efficient, durable and environmentally friendly materials, processes and devices. I will present our group’s latest results on this topic.

Anniversary of CAPES Materials Area. Part 2.

A little more than four months after the creation of CAPES Materials Area, with Professor Lívio Amaral as pro tempore coordinator, in 12 and 13 of June 2008, the first meeting of postgraduate programs of the new field took place in the headquarters of CAPES, Brasilia. Discussions basically involved the presentation of ten programs already linked to CAPES Materials Area (from UCS, UFC, UFPE, UFRGS, UFRN, UFSC, UNESP – Bauru, UNESP – Ilha Solteira, USP-Lorena and USP São Carlos), meetings with some of the directors from CAPES and the presentation of new programs (from FATEC, FEEVALE, UFMT and UFSCar- Sorocaba). Some programs linked to other areas in CAPES (from UFVSF, UFPR and UFS) have also been invited, to assess a possible change of area. At the end of the event, there was a discussion about creating what they called “the document of the Materials Area”.

This document was finalized in the second meeting of postgraduate programs, which took place in the 5th and 6th of March 2009 at Puc-Rio. At this time, the meeting was summoned by Professor Lívio Amaral, together with SBPMat, presided then by Professor Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior. Discussions included presentation of SBPMat and work teams about the creation of the document.

Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

In April 2009, Professor Lívio Amaral left the coordination of the Materials Area to take over as Evaluation Director at CAPES. Regarding the actions performed during his coordination, which lasted a year and two months, Professor Amaral states that theytake this time to essentially identify the postgraduate programs in the field of Materials; from this, they try to consolidate the Materials Area and include it among the other CAPES areas, in a way that could be understood by the community”. On the other hand, Amaral regrets not being able to stimulate, neither in existing programs nor in new initiatives, “the imperious need to have much more research and human resources formation in Biomaterials”, subarea which, according to the Professor, is still very critical in the country. “All you have to do is go to a MRS meeting, either American or European, and it is easy to observe the increasing research in Biomaterials”, demonstrates Amaral.

On August 12th, 2009, CAPES president, Professor Jorge Guimarães, announced through Normative Regulation 097 that Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff had been assigned to fulfill the role of Materials Area coordinator until 2010, concluding the period of three years started by Lívio Amaral. Graeff still remains the coordinator until June 2014, being assigned for the role for three more years.


APPENDIX 1: About CAPES Materials Area.

The main tasks of CAPES are: evaluate and promote creating of new postgraduate programs; evaluate existing programs applying grades; evaluate scholarships and other financial support requests for students and teaching staff and for scientific events organization. Besides, CAPES coordinators are the most important interface between academic community and CAPES.

The Materials Area at CAPES is composed by a coordinator and two deputy coordinators. The job of the second deputy coordinator has been recently created, around 2013, to follow up in more detail programs of professional masters. Besides, the Evaluation Direction at CAPES has one or more technicians that help in the coordinators with internal procedures and the interface of CAPES with the community.

Coordinators in the area are chosen by the president at CAPES, after consulting post-graduate programs and technical and scientific societies connected to the area.


Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

APPENDIX 2: Interview with Professor Carlos Graeff, CAPES Materials Area coordinator from 2009 to 2014.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Could you summarize the quantitative and qualitative evolution of postgraduate courses in Materals in Brazil, since the creation of CAPES Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – The area was created in 2008 with the adhesion of 10 programs. We are 29 today, that is, we have increased 290% in 6 years. This is quantitative date, but, most importantly, the area has diversified. It is a multidisciplinary area and with new programs, new frontiers of knowledge have been embraced with interfaces related to biological and medical fields, as well as agriculture, to name a few. Besides, another important feature of this evolution was the expansion of covered areas with postgraduate programs, especially in places with no high level education programs in the field, as the Central-west and Northeast Brazilian regions.

SBPMat Bulletin: – What were the main actions and facts  during your coordination?

Carlos Graeff: – The main mark of our administration was transparency. We had a series of meetings with coordinators and, as the area is still relatively small, we could make a serious of decisions collectively, mostly relating to the evaluation of postgraduate programs. Regarding new courses, we always tried to invite new members, specialists, to the evaluation committees, for a fair examination of requests.  This measure also brought improvement of the existing knowledge concerning CAPES role. A recurring issue is related to unawareness of CAPES work; when bringing a representative number of professors to the assessment processes, there is a tendency to strengthen the relationship between the scientific community and CAPES. I hope that this interview can contribute in that sense.

Besides working in this interface with post-graduate programs, I am a full member of Conselho Técnico-Científico da Educação Superior, where I led the work team with the topic “technical products”. There is an increasing demand for stronger interaction between academic society and society in general, that is, for applied research or technological development. In fact, creating the Materials and Biotechnology Areas at CAPES was basically inspired by this approximation. However, to evaluate programs that work with this interface there is a need for tools that might measure and qualify products such as patents, prototypes, etc. Therefore, it is essential that CAPES successful in assessing intellectual production well (in the case of Materials, basically articles in scientific journals) can be extended to technical production. The discussions have been very productive and we hope that soon they will reflect both on the CAPES evaluation process.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Can you comment on the “Qualis” (CAPES system for evaluation of scientific journals) of Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – One of the debates in the area was how to generate a Qualis that would attend multidisciplinary. Qualis is a broadly discussed tool in academic community in general, but especially in more dynamic areas of knowledge, considering its role is one of the most important: to qualify main intellectual products generated by postgraduate programs, scientific papers. The most used method uses impact factor. However, impact factor reflects the size and dynamics of different academic communities. For instance, when we compare average impact factors in Engineering with those of Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), they are inferior. We do not want to discuss the reasons for this difference which is even more remarkable if, for instance, we enter the realm of humanities. But this difference exists and, therefore, we should take this into consideration in order to avoid distortions in the evaluation process of, for instance, postgraduate research with strong inclination to research in Materials Engineering against Materials Chemistry. Our proposal, therefore, separates journals in big groups: Materials Science, Materials Engineering and correlate areas. By doing this, we try to achieve fairness while comparing papers generated by groups of engineers or physicists that work with Materials. Obviously, our proposal needs some adjustment, but I believe we have taken a step further in this direction.

SBPMat Bulletin: – In your opinion, which are the challenges faced by the area in the next few years?

Carlos Graeff: – Brazil is going through an important time in industry where it suffers with increasingly stronger competition, due to a great opening of our market and the integration with global economy. An important path is the sophistication of our products and processes, and Materials area has a lot to contribute to a stronger and more competitive industry. Nanotechnology is increasingly more emphasized and there are expectations that it might generate a series of new products, which is a fundamental subject of Materials field. Therefore CAPES and SBPMat play an important part in this matter. Actions in this direction are being discussed both at CAPES and SBPMat. Besides great national issues, there is still a lot of room to grow in the area.  There are, for instance, the great and urgent challenges of creating a postgraduate program in the North Brazilian region, the only region with still no offer for Materials courses.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Feel free to add anything else.

Carlos Graeff: – I am honored with the generous invitation from Professor Livio Amaral to conduct the implementation of Materials Area at CAPES. I have learned a lot and I could follow changes that CAPES have been through in the last years, focusing in system improvement. We will soon have significant changes in the assessment process, among them, a new tool to collect and support evaluation called Sucupira Platform. This initiative has been taken with enthusiasm and skillfulness of Professors Amaral and Guimarães. So I would like to end thanking both of them.


CAPES’s Materials Area Anniversary. Part 1.

At the end of January, 2014, the Brazilian community of Materials research celebrates an anniversary: the Materials Area of CAPES reaches its sixth year of existence. CAPES is the government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil.

In fact, it was on January 30th, 2008, that CAPES’s published a press release announcing the introduction of changes to its table of areas. Such table lists the areas of knowledge and it is used in the evaluations of the post-graduation programs in Brazil. The changes disclosed in such note included the insertion of the Materials Area, which up until then did not exist, and which from then on would be a part of the Multi-disciplinary greater area, which had been recently created.

One day prior to such disclosure, an official letter from CAPES’s Evaluation Office had been sent to all coordinators of post-graduation programs previously identified as possibly being grouped into the new area. The official letter informed that a recent meeting of CAPES’s Superior Board had approved the creation of the new Materials area of evaluation, and also that physicist Lívio Amaral, a professor from the UFRGS (Federal University of the State of Rio Grande do Sul) had been appointed as the pro-tempore coordinator. In addition, the official letter asked the coordinators who deemed it to be in the interest of their programs to become connected to the new area of evaluation, to inform CAPES of their decision.


In September, 2012, professor Amaral had taken part in a meeting at the headquarters of CNPq (Brazilian Council for the Scientific and Technological Development) called by Professor Celso de Melo, who was a director in the council. The theme of the meeting was the Materials Science and Engineering area, and the Advisory Boards of such body. The other participants of the meeting were the professors Glória de Almeida Soares (from COPPE-UFRJ), Elson Longo (from UFSCar) and João Marcos Alcoforado Rebello (from COPPE-UFRJ).

A document signed by the participants of the meeting pointed some problems with the evaluation of research projects in the Materials Area. To sum it up, due to the fact that there was no Advisory Board for the Materials Area at that time, the projects and other requests pertaining to Materials Science or Engineering were often appraised with debatable parameters or sent from area to area until someone was found who could evaluate them, a situation which significantly increased the number of appeals received by the CNPq and the time to reply to the requesting researcher. To solve such issue, the document proposed initially the creation of a committee with representatives from the several areas of knowledge involving Materials and also that the scientific societies with any relation to Materials were to be called to the debate, to find a solution fully backed by the technical and scientific community.

“This matter of the inclusion of a Materials area in the government fostering agencies had been considered since the mid-90s”, Lívio Amaral states. “That occurred within the context of creation of a Brazilian Materials society, having the MRS as a reference, which ended up occurring in the early 00s. At the time, there was a lot of debate in several situations, such as in the Brazilian Meetings on Condensed Matter Physics of the Brazilian Physics Society”, he adds.

In parallel, professor Amaral had been following-up on that matter within CAPES, where he was the coordinator of the Physics and Astronomy Area. According to Amaral, by means of evaluations conducted every three years, it was possible to verify that several post-graduation programs, regardless of the names they had and by which of CAPES’s areas they were encompassed, were awarding master and doctorate degrees with intellectual production in Materials. “Since, in addition to being department coordinator, I also took part in CAPES’s Technical and Scientific Council, I had the opportunity to take that entire matter to debate in such Council”, the professor  comments.

At that time, Jorge Almeida Guimarães, who would become CAPES’s president in 2004, was the coordinator of the Biological Sciences II Area and, like professor Amaral, took part in the Technical and Scientific Council and was a professor in the UFRGS. “We discussed at length the need to create two new areas, the Materials and Biotechnology areas”, Lívio Amaral tells us.

In addition, Amaral recalls that another favorable coincidence then occurred. CAPES’s president at the time was Professor Abílio Afonso Baeta Neves, who had previously been the dean of post-graduation in UFRGS when the program of post-graduation in Materials Science had been submitted to the university, by initiative from professors of the Physics department, Amaral included, and of the Engineering and the Chemistry departments. “In summary, in that scenario, the discussion regarding new areas, inside and outside the Technical and Scientific Council, was very frequent due to such circumstances”, professor Amaral sums it up.

Meeting of CAPES’s Technical and Scientific Council, at the time of professor Abílio Baeta Neves’s presidency. At the table, the third one from the right is the president; the sixth, the one speaking, is professor Jorge Guimarães; the seventh is profesor Lívio Amaral. (Picture provided by Lívio Amaral)

The decision for the creation

According to Amaral, in July, 2007, CAPES held a meeting in Brasília, to consider the possible creation of a new area of knowledge, to be called “Materials”. Representatives from several post-graduation programs were invited, including professor Lívio, who was at the time the coordinator of UFRGS’s program.

The official letter-invitation sent by CAPES’s Evaluation Office contained: “The agency has been granted to such area the importance it deserves, considering the relevance of the creation of new materials for the current science and technology. CAPES’s Superior Council, in addition, has already authorized this Office to create the area at hand. For such decision, the meeting to be held in July 31st shall be decisive, for it will allow us to conclude if such innovative measure is in the interests of the programs – and of the Brazilian science and technologies. The new area would encompass all programs that – currently divided into different areas of knowledge – highlight this theme, which is a priority for the Country and for applied sciences”.

“The meeting was, therefore, conclusive for the creation of the new area and designed the initial milestones for the same”, Amaral states. Thus, on January 25th, 2008, CAPES’s Ordinance No. 09 was published, which ordinance, in its article 3, created two new areas of knowledge, “Materials” and “Biotechnology”, and designated their pro tempore coordinators.


List of post-graduation programs that adhered to the Materials area (as of March, 2008).

1. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials – UNIVERSIDADE DE CAXIAS DO SUL

2. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL  DO RIO GRANDE DO SUL

3. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO CEARÁ

4. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE PERNANBUCO

5. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science and Technology – UNIVERSIDADE ESTADUAL PAULISTA “JÚLIO DE MESQUITA FILHO” – UNESP-BAURÚ

6. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering – UNIVERSIDADE DE SÃO PAULO – ESCOLA DE ENGENHARIA DE LORENA

7. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO RIO GRANDE DO NORTE

8. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE DE SÃO PAULO – SÃO CARLOS


10. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE SANTA CATARINA.