Director Maria Graça Rasteiro
Vice-Director Rosa Quinta Ferreira
Vice-Director Marco Seabra
Mara E. M. Braga
Newsletter 003 – Feb 2014
This third number of our newsletter clearly illustrates the broad range of interests and activities developed within our research centre. Our opinion’s section includes both academic and non-academic perspectives and also a new subsection dedicated to personal scientific experiences. In the news section, and in spite of difficulties in research funding, we are glad to announce some good news, confirming the high quality and impact of the research done in our centre. The strengths and diversity of our centre are also reflected in the two featured projects we have selected: one in the scope of science dissemination (Parents with Science) and the second one addressing the challenging problem of plant-parasitic nematodes, namely in pine trees. It is therefore a newsletter packed with interesting and positive points that we hope can motivate our community to keep up the good work and surpass present difficulties.
Our monthly seminars are the main forum to get together researchers from the different research groups that integrate CIEPQPF. In 2014, we will continue the presentation of scientific projects developed in CIEPQPF. The synergy created in these seminars has been fruitful and helped to improve collaborations and create new ideas. The 2014 programme will be planned to cover the wide spectrum of the research done in our Centre. Don’t miss this opportunity to enlarge your horizons and maybe to find your next job.
You will soon find the 2014 program at http://www.uc.pt/fctuc/deq/ciepqpf/research_seminars.
In 2013 CIEPQPF kept a high rate of scientific production. We counted with the collaboration of 29 MSc students and 31 PhD students, and together we were able to produce 106 peer-reviewed articles and 12 book chapters. Researchers also promoted and presented almost 100 works in meetings and conferences.
Eight PhD students finished and defended their thesis:
Let’s see if we can beat these figures in 2014!
Scientific production and post-graduation in 2013
Companies are nowadays well aware that innovation, whether regarding products, processes, marketing or organizational models, is a key differentiation factor and an indispensable tool to assert their position in a global market, but they also know that the use they make of available resources can determine the success of business strategies. Therefore companies look for external partners able to help them to develop and consolidate their activities. The Process Engineering and Forest Products Research Centre (CIEPQPF) is one of the entities of the National Science and Technology System that has successfully come closer to industrial companies and their actual problems. IAPMEI, as a Portuguese public agency aimed to support SMEs, has had the privilege of accompanying and sharing CIEPQPF’s activities and the efforts made in approaching the business environment and needs, with a clear stress on research and knowledge transfer, promotion of entrepreneurship and valorization of the Centre’s competences. We are partners and hope to keep on working together through synergetic collaborations that offer solutions serving the needs of our small and medium enterprises and contribute to improve their competitive profile.
Osória Veiga Miranda, Coordenadora Centro de Desenvolvimento Empresarial do Centro, DAE - Direcção de Assistência Empresarial, IAPMEI - Agência para a Competitividade e Inovação.
It is a pleasure to present our view of the collaboration with DEQ/UC and CIEPQPF since 2011. We have been working closely with Hermínio J. C. Sousa, Mara E. M. Braga and Ana M. A. Dias in two different projects, one funded by a Brazilian agency (CAPES) together with FCT and the other funded by CYTED. In both UNICAMP/UC collaboration projects, we aim to develop polysaccharide-based membranes useful in food packing and in treatment of skin lesions. The activities carried out in Portugal so far include the incorporation of biologically active compounds such as antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory agents through supercritical technology and the detailed characterization of the products. In two working missions, four PhD Brazilian students (Itiara G. Veiga, Cecilia Z. Bueno, Andréa C. K. Bierhalz and Ana Luíza R. Pires), a post-doctorate fellow (Márcia Z. Bellini) and ourselves were able to enjoy the high-quality research infra-structure of the CIEPQPF. All the participants of the Brazilian team were always well received and had full access to the CIEPQPF facilities, being able to collect a large number of experimental data. Despite our own institution in Brazil has also very good research facilities, the vast intellectual expertise and warmth reception of Prof. Hermínio´s group, added to the enchanting cultural aspects related to the Portuguese life style and landscapes, has made the experience abroad to be quite remarkable for the whole Brazilian team.
Professors Ângela Maria Moraes and Paulo de Tarso Vieira e Rosa, from the Faculdade de Engenharia Química (FEQ) and Instituto de Química (IQ), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, SP, Brasil.
Since my PhD advisor works in collaboration with several research groups, both Portuguese and international ones, I had the chance to get into two exchange programs during my PhD. I´ve studied in the USA for one year in two different labs: 6 months in the University of Pennsylvania and 6 months in the Carnegie Mellon University. First, I was really excited about the opportunity, since I was going to labs with expertise in my research area. However, I was also feeling unsure that I could handle the challenges! After the experience I can say that it was one of the best things that happened to me on the professional level. I got to work with experts in my research area and learn new techniques and work methodologies. For sure, it improved the quality of my work and my attitude as a researcher.
In addition, it was also a personal journey which made me grow as a person. I've met many people from different countries and cultures. Especially in the Carnegie Mellon University, the research team is formed by people from all over the world, which made me expand my horizons and create a large network. When I look back, I see that working abroad was not only good for me, but was also good for the Portuguese Polymer Research Group in which I work. It allowed me to bring new know-how for the group and help it to improve even more. I'm looking forward to repeat the experience!”
Patrícia Mendonça, PhD student at Department of Chemical Engineering and CIEPQPF.
Dr. Ana Dias was a post-doctorate in CIEPQPF since 2008 and applied for the FCT Investigator Program being the unique contemplated researcher. She talks about her new project to be developed during the next five years: “The main idea of this project is to develop biopolyelectrolytes “on demand”: it aims the design of tunable, biodegradable, biocompatible and electroactive natural-based polyelectrolytes. These biomaterials are envisaged for the development of electrically-stimulated controlled drug delivery systems and tissue engineering scaffolds and will have high-impact as viable alternatives to most of the currently available synthetic conductive polymers. Besides the envisaged biomedical applications, they can also be employed to develop materials for other potential applications such as biotechnology, separation/purification and energy-related materials.” We wish her good work and success!
The FP7 Marie Curie programme, which will continue in HORIZON 2020, launched in the last two calls a new type of action, the European Industrial Doctorates (EID). In the last FP7 call of this programme, CIEPQPF saw one proposal approved: FP7 ITN/EID 604825 ECOFLOC optimize, coordinated by Graça Rasteiro and in collaboration with the Swiss company Aqua+Tech (funding of approx. 475 k€). The project aims at training two students in the development of more ecofriendly polyelectrolytes, both synthetic and based on natural polymers. The two students will register for PhD at the University of Coimbra, being supervised jointly by UC and by a collaborator from Aqua+Tech. It will be the first ITN/EID project to be developed at UC.
The COST Action FP1306 – “Valorisation of lignocellulosic biomass side streams for sustainable
production of chemicals, materials & fuels using low environmental impact
technologies”, involving so far 20 different countries, was recently approved by the COST Committee (November 2013). CIEPQPF has been indicated by FCT to
represent Portugal in the management committee (MC) of this Action which will
run from 2014 to 2017. Graça Rasteiro was indicated as one of the Portuguese
representatives in the MC of this Action which is fully aligned with one of the
strategic vectors of CIEPQPF for the period 2015-20.
Coordinator - António Manuel Freitas Gomes Cunha Salgueiro
Team - A.J.R.F.Guiomar, A.M.M.P.Urbano,A.M.J.R. Azul, J.M.M.B.Fernandes,C.S.Reis
Funding entity/programme - Ciência Viva - Agência Nacional para a Cultura Científica e Tecnológica - Concurso Pais com a Ciência 2012 and Associação de Pais e Encarregados de Educação dos Alunos da Escola N.10 de Coimbra
Funding - approx. 6336 €
“Pais com a Ciência” is a programme run by Ciência Viva in a partnership with CONFAP (National Confederation of Parents’ Associations), which supports projects aiming to promote education in science through a direct contact between scientists and students at the primary and secondary school levels. Projects are proposed by formally established parents’ associations together with higher education or science institutions. The parents’ association of the primary school Escola Básica n.º 1 da Solum, Coimbra, proposed a project entitled “O meu primeiro contacto com a Ciência | My first contact with Science”, elaborated by researchers from the University of Coimbra who had children at this primary school. Activities in five areas were proposed – Materials, Biochemistry, Micology, Robotics and Astronomy. CIEPQPF was involved in the Materials area. The Materials activities took place at the school, in two sessions for each class, before and after the summer break. All sessions started with a brief introduction to safety in the lab. Small labcoats created by us were used by all students, who were very enthusiastic about wearing them. A lab notebook was also created and distributed.
The Materials sessions for 1st year students aimed to introduce them to the ubiquitous presence of materials and to the classification of materials. In the first sessions, 2nd to the 4th year students tried to find an answer for the question “Why aren’t diapers made of paper, cloth or sponge?”, by comparing the water absorption/retention capacity of paper, cloth, a sponge and a diaper, either qualitatively (2nd/3rd years) or quantitatively (4th year). These experiments allowed an introduction to the recording of results in table format (2nd to 4th years) and to the drawing of a graph (4th year).
In the second sessions, while 2nd year students (who were freshers in the first block) carried out the qualitative version of the experiment with diapers, 3rd year students were introduced to the concept of separation by filtration, with an application in the clearing of “dirty” water (tap water to which soil was added). They made and used a filter assembled from a plastic bottle, cotton fluff, sand and small stones. In the lab notebook, students recorded results in table format, comparing colour, turbidity and smell of filtered/unfiltered samples and of tap water. Finally, 4th year students were introduced to the concept of flotation and were guided to do experiments in trying to explain why some objects float and others do not.
Most of the students were very enthusiastic about these sessions and were very interested about what was being done.
Jorge Guiomar, CIEPQPF/Dept. of Life Sciences, UC.
Coordinator – M. J. Cunha (CERNAS/ESAC). M. Braga is the coordinator within CIEPQPF.
Team - A. Dias, C. Maleita, C. Santos, H. Sousa, I. Abrantes, I. Conceição, I. Esteves, M. Braga, O. Machado, R. Francisco, R. Guilherme, S. Chelinho, S. Marceneiro
Funding entity/programme – FCT/COMPETE (PTDC/AGR-PRO/2510/2012)
Funding – aprox. 163 000 €
The top 10 list of emerging plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN) is composed among others by root-knot nematodes, root lesion nematodes and the pine wilt nematode. They are responsible for enormous ecological and economical impacts in Portugal and worldwide, the total damages being estimated at 80 billion USD per year. The objective of the BIONEM project is to study a potential sustainable strategy for the management of root-knot and root lesion nematodes on potatoes, and simultaneously the pine wilt nematode, through the use of natural compounds from agricultural residues/byproducts, aiming to provide an ecofriendly strategy of control to improve crop protection systems and ultimately, human health. At the moment, the main naphthoquinones obtained from extracts of walnut leaves and fruit hulls presented interesting biological properties including high nematicidal activities against the nematodes. Studies will be carried out to develop potential natural-based nematicide delivery systems and assess their efficacy to control PPN, as well as the potential ecotoxicological risks associated with applications. The proposed objectives will be achieved by a multidisciplinary team with experience in agronomy, phytonematology, chemistry, soil ecotoxicology and microbiology, working in three different institutions (CERNAS, Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra; IMAR-CMA, Department of Life Sciences, UC; CIEPQPF, Department of Chemical Engineering, UC).
Carla Maleita, Post-doc at Department of Chemical Engineering and CIEPQPF.
CIEPQPF offers a wide range of analytical techniques to assist projects from universities and industries. Modern installations and equipments are available, among them the new generation of thermo-mechanic analysis. Contact the Analytical Centre of
for more information: http://www.uc.pt/fctuc/deq/ciepqpf/facilities_services.
|CIEPQPF: Newsletter 2014|