Advisor of the Month: Gustavo Bernardi Pereira, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?

Since my childhood, I have been passionate about learning how things work as well as any quirky stuff I can find. Because of this “quirky stuff” side, I ended up starting a bachelor in physics and maths. However, something was missing… the “how things work” side. So, I decided to change my degree to Industrial Engineering at Federal University of Parana.

In the meantime, I got a scholarship to study MEng. Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Warwick. Back to the quirky stuff… my project was called “Manufacture of functional polymer-composite materials for electromagnetic applications by extrusion”. Even though it was a challenging project, my supervisor at the time suggested I use a reference manager called “Mendeley”. As most of the students, I did not pay enough attention to her and made it without using it.

Back in Brazil I began a Masters in Process Mining. As soon as I started studying it, I realized that working only on the research itself would consume much more energy than I expected (as you often have to redo your work). At this point I decided to optimize my research process. And I decided to follow my former supervisor’s advice and start using Mendeley.

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?

Usually I like to balance two environments: loud and talkative (to generate the ideas) and quiet and surrounded by nature (to organise the ideas).

How long have you been on Mendeley? 

I first heard about it in 2013. However, it was only in 2016 I started exploring its features and using them effectively.

What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?

I used to have a notepad file with a list of references, which I pasted in to the document at the end. When I found out what Mendeley could do for my research, I must confess I was bit sceptical in the beginning. As I started using it, the intuitive environment changed my mind and now I am very comfortable about swapping my notepad to Mendeley.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?

Seeing my Master’s peers struggling to finish a 6 page assignment because of the references brought my attention to simple problems around me. So I became an Advisor and since then I have been holding teaching sessions for many groups in the university.

Which researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?

Leonardo da Vinci is one researcher I would like to meet and work with. Possibly because of his broad range of skills in different areas.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. The book talks about how decisions you assume are being made rationally sometimes are not really something you have a choice about.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

Well… some people say it is possible to use a biological virus to improve computing power hahaha https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsanm.8b01508

What is the best part about working in research?

Having your research used by someone else (to help someone, not to have citations) is the best part.

And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?

Dealing with egos, in my humble opinion, is the biggest challenge we have been facing in science as it jeopardises both the speed and the environment in which the research is made.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

Unless your notepad file still can solve your problems, use Mendeley…. for the greater good.

 

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Mendeley Investor Sponsors Annual Science Academy Prizes

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Image: http://www.nyas.org

Leonard Blavatnik – the Ukrainian-born billionaire from Access Industries who was one of the biggest investors in Mendeley before the acquisition by Elsevier in April – is continuing the trend of investing in research by backing the New York Academy of Sciences’ annual prizes for young scientists.

Tamar Lewin reported in a recent New York Times article that the scheme is building on the success of a smaller program that was piloted in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut over the past seven years. It will now award three prizes of $250,000 each in the areas of Physical Sciences & Engineering, Chemistry and Life Sciences.

It might not seem such a large amount when compared with the Nobel prize (which is currently around $1 million) or the whopping $3 Million that each winner of the newly established Breakthrough Prizes received, yet these awards are targeted towards younger up-and-coming researchers (there is an age limit of 42) rather than those that are already leaders in their field.

The idea, according to Blavatnik is to make the prizes big enough to be interesting but not so large as to be scary. While there are many rewards and incentives for established and prominent scientists, there are fewer initiatives to encourage and support young researchers in a sustained and more systematic way. The aim is to use this incentive to help spur the next generation of scientific innovators. Mr Blavatnik is a philanthropist with a keen interest in scientific research, having funded  the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford to the tune of $114 million and also recently donating $50 million to Harvard and $10 million to Yale.

Past finalists and winners of the regional Blavatnik Awards talk about how they were pivotal for their careers: Elisa Oricchio, a Research Fellow of the Cancer Biology & Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says that the prize is a wonderful stimulus and confidence booster for young scientists and “identifies emerging scientific thought leaders and highlights their work to the broader scientific community.”

Nominations for the prize will come from around 300 leading medical centres and research universities and an advisory council of past winners, Nobel laureates and prominent scientists. The judging panel – made up of 60 distinguished scientists – will then select winners based on the impact, quality and novelty of their research. The first nominations will be accepted from September through December 2013, with winners being announced in September 2014.

“The long-term goal of the awards is to create a pipeline of scientific support in which established scientists choose the most outstanding young faculty-rank scientists, who then go on to mentor the next generation of would-be scientists and award winners,” said the president of the New York Academy of Sciences Ellis Rubinstein.

Do you think these prizes make a real difference towards advancing science and supporting researchers and their work? Mendeley and Elsevier are also looking at some interesting initiatives and awards to support early career researchers, so watch this space, and in the meantime let us know what you think!