Professor Carlos Alejandro Figueroa (University of Caxias do Sul, UCS), B-MRS member, was appointed editor of Applied Surface Science (Elsevier), a renowned journal in the area of Physics and Chemistry applied to surfaces and interfaces, 6,182 impact factor.
Figueroa is the second researcher of a Latin American institution within the journal’s team of 30 editors.
Professor Luciana Reyes Pires Kassab (Faculty of Technology of São Paulo/CEETEPS), B-MRS member, was distinguished with the category of Senior Member of OSA (The Optical Society), a scientific society of worldwide reach in the area of Optics and Photonics, founded in the United States in 1916.
This OSA distinction is awarded to partners with ten or more years of professional experience in Optics/Photonics and/or related areas, and with a history of achievements that differentiates them from their peers.
HPC Spotlight is the name of the Brazilian science web series that shows some of the challenges and achievements of scientists in Brazil, through their scientific, professional and personal stories, told in episodes of about 10 minutes. Conceived by Versatus HPC, a Brazilian high performance computing company, and carried out together with Ibirá Filmes, the web series currently presents its second season, focused on scientists from the state of Minas Gerais.
B-MRS’s partnership with Versatus brings to the audience of B-MRS channels the opportunity to watch episodes related to the materials area first hand, before the official premiere. The launching takes place on Wednesdays, in the late afternoon, on B-MRS’s social media channels.
How the web series came about
The idea of making this innovative web series arose in the Versatus team after almost a decade of interaction with scientists from Brazilian institutions. “We know some of the many challenges they have to face on a daily basis. Barriers regarding submissions, financing, funds, deadlines, as well as regarding the valuation of their research,” says Cecília Scigliano, from Versatus. “When walking side by side with scientists and researchers to ensure that they have the most appropriate technological solution for their research, we know their objectives, advances, discoveries and conclusions… and we become increasingly fascinated by this universe!”, she adds.
Follow the launch of the next episodes, on Wednesdays, in the late afternoon, at:
During the month of June, five technical webinars were held on the Zoom platform, with live transmission via B-MRS’s Facebook platform, within the Live & Webinars program, organized by B-MRS in partnership with instrumentation companies.
By the end of August, 12 more webinars will be offered. The program includes a variety of subjects, from fundamentals and applications of techniques widely used by the Materials research community, to the presentation of state-of-the-art research instruments and digital tools for teaching in the field of Materials.
The already held online seminars had audiences of up to 500 participants. “We are happy to see that many people, especially young people, are using this pandemic time to gain knowledge and for self-improvement,” says Professor Mônica Cotta, president of B-MRS, who has participated in all the seminars.
Edson Roberto Leite memories related to science are all very pleasant: the book about rockets in his childhood in the interior of São Paulo, the opportunity to use an exceptional microscope during the sabbatical period in the United States, the discovery of a mechanism for the growth of nanocrystals at the Brazilian National Synchrotron Light Laboratory…
Some of these wonderful memories include the many occasions experienced alongside his tutor and scientific father, Professor José Arana Varela, a prominent Brazilian materials scientist who died in 2016. Arana Varela was honored by B-MRS with the creation, in 2019, of an award that bears his name, and which annually distinguishes a prominent researcher from Brazil, who gives a plenary lecture at the Society’s annual event. In its first edition, the award was befittingly granted to Edson Roberto Leite, professor at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and scientific director of the Brazilian National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano-CNPEM). Leite is also editor for Latin America of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research (Springer).
Edson Roberto Leite received his first degree in Materials Engineering from UFSCar in 1988. In doubt between pursuing a career in industry or academia, he initially tried to reconcile both. After graduating, he worked in the research and development area at 3M, while doing his master’s degree and starting his doctorate, both in Materials Science and Engineering at UFSCar. In 1992, he left the company in order to dedicate his time to the doctorate, a decision that he recalls did not please his father-in-law, who was concerned with the livelihood of the family that by now included two children. However, over the years, the results of this decision have been very positive. In 1994, shortly after defending his doctorate, Leite became a professor in the Chemistry Department at UFSCar and started a career as a researcher in materials, which would not only be fruitful, but also enjoyable.
Co-author of more than 400 scientific articles published with more than 19 thousand citations, today Leite has an h index of 72 (Google Scholar). The scientist is also the editor of three books related to materials for energy and co-author of a book on the process of nucleation and growth of nanocrystals. Leite received several awards, including the Scopus Prize from Elsevier/CAPES (2006), for the excellence of his scientific production as a whole, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2009), awarded to scientists with exceptional research skills. In 2012, Edson Leite was elected member of the World Academy of Ceramics and the Academy of Sciences of the State of São Paulo. In 2014, he was cochair of the Spring Meeting of Materials Research Society, held in San Frascisco (USA). In 2019 he was elected full member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC).
Read our interview and learn more about this scientist, his main contributions and his memories of Professor Arana Varela.
B-MRS newsletter: At school, you had more affinity with science subjects, right? Do you remember how this taste for science originated?
Edson Roberto Leite: A person’s story always has the personal version and the version of the people who interacted with him. I will recount my perspective of how it happened.
At school I always had a strong affinity for Science and History. A striking memory was when I was in the third grade of elementary school and my father took me to the Municipal Library of Araras to take out a membership card so I could access books. The first book I chose was about rockets. I have always loved the conquest of space and the science behind fundamental historical moments. It is noteworthy that man had reached the moon only a few years earlier, nuclear power was seen as the global energy solution and semiconductors were just beginning.
In addition to this fond memory, there were other motivations, including Jonny Quest, a really cool cartoon. This animation, in addition to the adventures, had a lot of science fiction, and Jonny’s father (Dr. Benton Quest) was a renowned scientist with an excellent research laboratory in his own home.
My childhood, then, was always marked by a strong influence of science classes. I think it easily guided me to choose Engineering. At first the idea was to become a mechanical engineer, but during my prep course for the entrance exam I was introduced to Materials Engineering, at UFSCar. I took the exam in the middle of 1983 and passed. From then on I knew what I wanted and what I liked.
However, there was still a doubt, whether to go to the academic area or go to industry (my father was a Nestlé employee in Araras and the industrial sector always caught my attention). During my undergraduate studies, I went to live at the student housing headed by Celso V. Santilli (today an important researcher in the field of Materials, Professor at IQ-UNESP-Araraquara) and he helped me to participate in an undergraduate research program with professors Elson Longo and José Arana Varela. That was when I learned what science was and that increased my taste for the academic area. In 1984, I had the first undergraduate scholarship from FAPESP under the guidance of Professor Varela (who was a visiting professor in the Materials Engineering department (DEMa) at UFSCar). In 1988 I graduated, joined the DEMa-UFSCar master’s degree program and went to work as a development engineer at 3M do Brasil, in Sumaré, SP. My director at 3M was the engineer Aloysio Pizarro and he released me for the master’s degree (which I defended in 1990 under the guidance of Professor Elson) and for the doctorate (in 1990). In 1992, I realized it would be impossible to reconcile the research area and my activities at 3M, so I left 3M to focus entirely on my academic research, returning to São Carlos. I finished my doctorate in 1993 under the supervision of Professor José A. Varela. In January 1994, I became an adjunct professor in the Chemistry department at UFSCar and joined LIEC (Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Electrochemistry and Ceramics), founded by Elson, Varela and Bulhões (Professor Luís Otávio S. Bulhões). I went back to the place that had introduced me to science.
Those moments influenced me…
B-MRS newsletter: In your assessment, what are your main contributions to the Materials area?
Edson Roberto Leite: Ever since undergraduate research, I have been working mainly with inorganic materials, more specifically with ceramic materials. So, I will report the contributions I believe are most important, according to my point of view (in fact these may be the contributions I most enjoyed working with).
Since 1994 I have been working with chemical and physical-chemical materials and have been involved in several areas, among them: chemical synthesis of ceramic oxides, synthesis of nanoparticles with controlled size and morphology, growth of nanocrystals, electrical properties of ceramic oxides, materials for application in alternative energy devices and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). During this period, always developing works in collaboration with professors Elson Longo and José A. Varela, at LIEC of DQ-UFSCar. Among these different areas I will highlight my contributions to the growth of nanocrystals and the work on alternative energy.
In 1998, that is, 4 years after I was hired, I went on a sabbatical in the USA, in the group of Professor Martin P. Harmer, at Lehigh University (Betlehem, PA). In my sabbatical, I worked on converting polycrystalline ceramics into monocrystalline ceramics, using controlled grain growth. It was a wonderful year and my recollection of that period is vivid in my memory. I still remember the smell of the laboratory and the friendships I cultivated. From a professional point of view, the work drew my attention to the process of solid-state crystal growth. My contribution to the project was to characterize the growth process using advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques. At that time I had the opportunity to operate the VG-603 analytical transmission electron microscope. There were few microscopes like this being produced, and I still remember the words of the coordinator of the Lehigh microscopy laboratory, Dr. Dave Ackland saying that “few researchers in the world have had the honor of operating this equipment.” Returning to Brazil in 1999, I dedicated a lot of my time to microscopy and, with the help of the newly created Electronic Microscopy Laboratory of LNLS (created in 1997 by Dr. Daniel Ugarte), I began studying the process of growing nanocrystals in colloidal solution. I quickly identified, for SnO2 nanocrystals, a growth mechanism recently described in the literature known as “Oriented Attachment” (OA). The first article we published about this nanocrystal growth mechanism was in 2003. During this period I created a group of high-level master and doctoral students (today these students are researchers and professors), which truly allowed exploring this growth mechanism. In fact, we published, almost simultaneously with American groups, the first kinetic model to describe this growth process, and shortly afterwards we published two important articles, one related to the growth of anisotropic nanocrystals and the other correlating the OA process with a polymerization process. Both articles are considered pioneers in the area. International recognition in the area came with the invitation to publish two review articles (one at Nanoscale and the other at CrysEngComm), one of them in collaboration with leading international experts in the field of nanocrystal growth kinetics by OA.
I started working in alternative energy in 2004, when I helped organize a symposium on the theme at the MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco. After that, we invested in this area and, with a new group of brilliant students, we achieved fantastic results, between 2007 and 2016, regarding the development of hematite photo anodes to promote water photo-electrolysis aimed at hydrogen production. We developed an electrode manufacturing process based on colloidal nanocrystal deposition. This enabled the highest impact publications of my career, in journals such as JACS and Energy Environ. Sci. In the same period we developed a method for synthesizing MoS2 (2D material), combining non-hydrolytic sol-gel method and microwave reaction. This again resulted in excellent materials for electrocatalysis and for supercapacitors. This research also enabled publications in high-impact journals, such as Chem. Comm and Advanced Energy Materials. Without a doubt, this team of students placed us in the state-of-the-art to develop materials for alternative energy.
I would like to highlight just one more important contribution, which was in the study of the combustion process in glass-melting furnaces, carried out with funding from White Martins/Praxair. In this work, carried out with Professor Carlos Paskocimas (currently at UFRN) and Professors Elson and Varela, we characterized the corrosion rate of the furnaces and proposed technological solutions to inhibit this corrosion. This work was a success at the time and we were invited to present the results at Corning Glass and Praxair in the United States.
B-MRS newsletter: You were celebrated in the first edition of the B-MRS José Arana Varela award, which honors this prominent Brazilian scientist (who died in 2016), former president of B-MRS. Professor Varela was your doctoral advisor and co-author of many published articles. Could you share with us some memories about Professor Varela and comment on the scientific partnership both of you developed over time? Feel free to leave any more personal comments.
Edson Roberto Leite: As I mentioned above, I was introduced to Professors Varela and Elson during my undergraduate years, and Professor Varela was my undergraduate and PhD advisor. In fact, I was Varela’s first doctoral student, in 1993. Being the first to win this award is an honor, which made me very happy. Besides being my advisor, Professor Varela was a tutor and almost a father, teaching me and introducing me to the national and international scientific community. It was with him that I made my first trip abroad, in 1993, where he introduced me to the great names of international Ceramics at the American Congress of The American Ceramic Society. It was at this opportunity that I met Professor Gary Messing and Professor Harmer. I remember him introducing me to the famous Professor W.D. Kingery, the father of modern Ceramics. It was Varela who encouraged me to be a member of World Academy of Ceramics. There were several trips, opening new work fronts and new research areas. As a tutor and advisor he knew how to get my attention and point out my mistakes. I remember, more recently, at an MRS Fall meeting in Boston (USA), a long discussion that we had where he, without hesitation, “pulled my ear” and helped me handle future problems I would face as a group leader in the Materials Chemistry area. I know he saw me as a rebellious student, but I’m sure he was proud of the training he gave me. His premature death took me by surprise and I miss him very much. I miss our discussions, our conversations and especially his advice and guidance.
B-MRS newsletter: Please leave a message for our younger readers who are starting a scientific career or are evaluating this possibility.
Edson Roberto Leite: I am not good with words, my students and former students know that I am very direct. I never worried about planning my career, everything was happening as I followed my instincts. What I am today is largely due to my students and the support of two scientific parents, professors Elson and Varela. My job is not a job, it is a hobby. So my message is: To achieve success in a scientific career you must really like what you do.
Professor Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior (IFSC-USP), member and former president of SBPMat, is the author of a text published in Folha de São Paulo, one of the main Brazilian newspapers, on the blog ‘Darwin e Deus’ (column by science journalist Reinaldo José Lopes) about the success and impact of Brazilian science. In the text, the professor describes three types of knowledge resulting from science and highlights the importance of increasing the number of scientists and professionals trained in research environments in order to meet the demands of the Brazilian population.
Here follows the text:
The greatest proof of the success of Brazilian science is at the Planalto Palace. Were it not for the excellence of Brazilian medicine, the result of decades of scientific work, today there would be another President of the Republic.
Without the competence of the doctors of Juiz de Fora who promptly attended the then candidate after the stabbing episode, as well as the doctors in São Paulo who performed the other surgeries, President Bolsonaro, even if he survived, would not have recovered so quickly to the point of working normally shortly after the attack.
In my opinion, the connection between facts that change the direction of the country and Brazilian science does not seem to have been made as of yet. This is probably so because the effect of the different forms of knowledge that science creates has not been analyzed in detail.
Doing science generates three types of knowledge. The most visible and tangible is the knowledge that generates, in a relatively short time, technology and solutions for humanity. It is the knowledge transferred from scientists to technology innovators, which in the 21st Century has been accomplished mostly by the great technological powers, that is, the United States, China and other Asian countries, and some countries in Europe. Here, the majority term is essential, as it is not enough to have quality science and technology, as knowledge transfer only occurs effectively when there is a volume of research, products and solutions.
The two other types of knowledge are less visible to society in general. One is the knowledge derived from the curiosity and perseverance of humans in understanding how the universe works, without concern if there will be any practical application. Often, the application exists, but it will only become evident long after such knowledge has been generated. Perhaps the most emblematic example today is Einstein’s theory of relativity. It was created with an abstract conception, incomprehensible even for scientists of the time, to explain the phenomena of nature that had no correlation with people’s daily lives.
As far as I know, Einstein never suggested the possibility of a direct application to his theory. Well, the Theory of Relativity is now essential for positioning systems (GPS). Without taking into account the Theory of Relativity, determining the position of a person or object on Earth would be wrong for about 10 km with the errors accumulated in a week of GPS operation. In short, without the Theory of Relativity there would be no GPS or the navigation systems we use in our daily lives.
The third type of knowledge has so little visibility that it is confused with the result of university education. It is knowledge that does not lead directly to new technologies, but serves to absorb and adapt technologies, develop local solutions and allow high-level functioning of systems that depend on technology. This type of knowledge is incorporated by qualified professionals trained at research universities.
What is not always understood is that professionals with this level of skill and competence can only be trained in an environment where science is done. In medicine, to stay on the initial example, the incorporation and improvement of new technologies are usually done by doctors with sophisticated training, with postgraduate degrees and active participation in research programs conducted at universities of excellence.
For those who consider this third type of knowledge is of little relevance, I emphasize that countries with better quality of life and higher development rates are not on the list of those that generate more technology. I refer to Scandinavian countries and others like Switzerland and Luxembourg, which, due to the size of their population, are not large enough to generate a lot of technology – compared to the largest technology-producing countries. However, without any exception, all these countries with high quality of life have high density in generating knowledge of the third type, with excellent science.
And Brazil? Our country has outstanding examples of knowledge generation of the first type, with science providing competitive technology worldwide in sectors such as aeronautics, oil extraction in deep waters and agribusiness. Other sectors have created relevant technologies, albeit with less economic impact.
Unfortunately, despite the quality of science carried out in these sectors, density is low and we generate very little technology when the dimensions of the country and its population are taken into account. This is explained by the small size of our scientific system. Despite the great advance in recent decades, the number of scientists per inhabitant is still much smaller than that of developed countries. In this regard, Brazil does not appear on the list of the 20 best ranked countries.
A similar situation occurs in knowledge oriented to the development of local solutions, which I classified as a third type. Brazil trains excellent professionals at its research universities, which in turn incorporate new technologies and create solutions for society in many areas. This results in the country’s excellence in areas such as medicine and health, engineering, agriculture and livestock, and in many other areas.
Again, we have the density problem: the number of trained professionals, and their role in generating knowledge, is insufficient to benefit the entire Brazilian population. This insufficiency is at the root of our inequality, since the extremely low productivity at work depends essentially on the good functioning of technologies that demand knowledge of this third type, in which the supply of trained professionals is insufficient.
In short, the problem in Brazil is not low quality of science that is done here, but the low density of scientists and professionals trained to meet the demands of society. In addition to bringing the erroneous perception of lack of quality, the low density in fact makes it difficult (when not preventing) a country to achieve excellence in topics that require concentrated efforts of great importance. It is not for any other reason that Brazil is competitive in technologies, such as those already mentioned, in which there is a density of trained researchers, based on public policies initiated decades ago.
I expect our leaders, at all levels, will realize the direct and indirect benefits of a robust and quality scientific system. Even if it is for their survival in the event they need adequate health care. But mainly to fulfill the dream of transforming Brazil into a less unequal country.
Seven scientific articles on topics in the area of materials are part of the latest volume of the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (AABC). This is the result of the AABC call for articles in 2018, made in partnership with B-MRS, with the theme “Materials Sciences for a Better Future”. “This was a great opportunity to celebrate the success of materials research in Brazil,” says Professor Frank Crespilho, associate editor of AABC. To participate in the call, the authors submitted their work through the journal’s website at SciELO (an electronic library covering a selected collection of Brazilian scientific journals).
AABC publishes scientific articles from all fields of knowledge, and Materials Science and Technology works are welcome in all editions. AABC publications are free of cost to authors and open access. More information for authors can be found at http://www.scielo.br/revistas/aabc/iinstruc.htm.
According to the president of B-MRS, Professor Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior, the growing importance of materials research has been revealed in major technological advances in all areas. In this context, B-MRS has played the role of bringing together students and researchers from Brazil, and their collaborators from other countries. “The partnership with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences is an important milestone of this performance of B-MRS, consolidated with this series of articles published in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences,” says the president of B-MRS. “The quality of the articles and variety of topics in this edition of the Annals are representative of the strength of the materials research community in Brazil,” he adds.
Published articles can be accessed free of charge (open access) in volume 91, number 4 of the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. Following is the list of articles on topics in the area of Materials published in this issue of the magazine:
Forty-nine (49) proposals were submitted by the international scientific community within the XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM symposium call. The number of submissions is one of the largest in the history of B-MRS events. “We received proposals from 18 different countries,” says Professor Gustavo Dalpian, chair of the event.
The organizing committee is already working on the analysis of the proposals, in order to solve cases of thematic overlap and to ensure the symposia are adequate to the structure of the event. When necessary, the committee will contact the authors of the proposals. The final list of symposia will be announced as soon as possible on the event website, B-MRS website, B-MRS Newsletter and social media. In February 2020, the abstract submission will be opened.
About the event
The event, which will be held from August 30 to September 3, 2020 at the Rafain Palace Hotel in Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), will bring together the nineteenth edition of B-MRS annual meeting and the seventeenth edition of the international conference on electronic materials organized every two years by IUMRS.
In addition to symposia oral and poster presentations, the program will include plenary lectures by leading scientists such as Alex Zunger (University of Colorado Boulder, USA), Edson Leite (LNNano, Brazil), Hideo Hosono (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan), John Rogers (Northwestern University, USA), Luisa Torsi (Università degli Studi di Bari “A. Moro”, Italy) and Tao Deng (Shanghai Jiaotong University, China).
The event is coordinated by professors Gustavo Martini Dalpian (UFABC) in the general coordination, Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon (LNNANO) in the program coordination and Flavio Leandro de Souza (UFABC) as general secretary. At the international committee, the event features scientists from America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.