Interview with representatives of Associations of Brazilian Postgraduate Students and Researchers in Europe

Categories: Meet the researchers

On the occasion of the IVth edition of the European Conference of Brazilian Students and Researchers that was held in the Netherlands on 18 April, EURAXESS Links Brazil interviewed the organizers.

This feature brings you information on why and how Brazilian researchers based in Europe should associate themselves with one another. In it, researchers also share their view on mobility and present the main outcomes of the event.

What is Apeb-NL? How many researchers are associated?

APEB-NL is the acronym of Association of Brazilian Researchers and Students in the Netherlands (Associação de Pesquisadores e Estudantes Brasileiros nos Países Baixos em português). We have now 43 active members and 311 registered followers in social media.

Similar structures exist in other European countries. Where are they located? What are the main objectives of the network and how many Brazilian researchers do you reach?

Besides the APEB-NL (we are the youngest, being only one year old), there are other similar associations in the United Kingdom (precursor; ABEP-UK), France (APEB-Fr), Portugal (APEB Coimbra) and Spain (APEC Cataluña and APEB Salamanca). Since May 2014 we are members of the APEBE (European APEBs) network. The main objective of an APEB is to support Brazilian researchers in Europe and after they are back to Brazil. For instance the APEBNL has as main goals:

  1. Be a forum for debate and dissemination of Brazilian scientific and cultural production in the Netherlands;
  2. Articulate and promote cooperation between Brazilian and Dutch scientific and cultural communities;
  3. Support the academic, scientific and cultural projects in progress, through enhanced integration of members and facilitating the insertion of new Brazilian students and researchers in the Netherlands;
  4. Act together with Brazilian research institutions, proposing and overseeing policies to encourage and promote scientific and cultural work involving Brazil and the Netherlands;
  5. Assist in personal development, adequacy and quality of local programs and research; assist with professional and personal contacts and opportunities.

In summary, we aim to promote the network and strengh the network that already exists. The exact number of Brazilians we reach is difficult to measure because all the APEBs use social media and we count only followers in each page. However, it is common that assigned non-followers are often checking our information and promoting some of our publications online. As an example, our website is available since April 2014 and we now receive up to more than 90,000 visits. Obviously, a visitor can make different visits during ths time, but it remains an impressive number.

What are the main advantages for a researcher of being associated to Apebs? How does one become a member?

As indicated above, an APEB member will have the support of the association when looking for opportunities and contacts for internship of work. For example, some company representatives registered for the IV European Conference of Brazilian Students and Researchers in the Netherlands (April 18), solely to find new talents or to start collaborative research with the participants. Usually those companies contact us and we send the information to the specific members related to the subject. To promote this network, the official language of the conference was English. There are also cases of members experiencing difficulties during their stay abroad and we indicate the possible directions to solve the problems. To become a member, it is necessary to register on our website and show that you are involved with research linking Brazil and Europe.

All of you are currently or recently carried out research in Europe. What were the benefits of mobility on your career?

Yes, at the moment all of the board of directors is currently performing research in Europe. Some of us are now European residents (like me and the Brabant representative, Fernanda França), but always maintaining the link with Brazil when performing research. The mobility is crucial to allow for the growth of a researcher. Not only because of the cliché improvement of language skills and the perception of cultural differences, but because doing so allows for direct contact with other researchers and research groups around Europe. We live in a world with many possibilities of online communication, but the personal contact is still of great importance when starting collaborations.

What would you say to Brazilian researchers to motivate them?

Go abroad, integrate with new cultures, publish in English and do not forget that networking is the key.

Having conducted research both in Brazil and in Europe, what are the best aspects of either research community?

Both are multicultural. Therefore, it is difficult to divide the aspects related to research communities precisely. Depending on the country in Europe, the similarities with Brazil will be greater or minimal. Mobility and collaboration within Europe is facilitated to include groups from different countries in large consortia, and most partners are communicating and publishing in English. Hence, improving the quality of the work and the number of reached researchers around the world. In Brazil, there is growth in the number and quality of scientific productions and the research community is very aware of the importance of mobility not only inside the country (with the size of a continent) but with the rest of the world.

In your opinion, what could be done to further enhance international scientific cooperation and the mobility of international researchers?

The first thing will be to improve the mobility of international researchers. However, only mobility is not sufficient to improve scientific cooperation. Mobility programmes can be considered efficient when the researcher who goes abroad is able to strengthen his/her network and, importantly, is capable to innovate.

Do you intend to stay linked to Europe after returning to Brazil? How?

I have been living in Europe for 8-9 years. However, I am an associate researcher of the Federal University of Pará (null contract), and together with Professor Sheyla Domingues, I am head of the group of Reproductive Biology of Wild Mammalian in Amazonia. Therefore, the link with Brazil still exists. On the other hand, our representative in Brazil, Professor Dr Marcio Pereira, went back to Brazil after his PhD, became a Professor at State University of Mato Grosso do Sul, and remains linked to Europe. All members of the board of directors have this common characteristic: we want to link and keep linked wherever we are.

What were the main conclusions of the event?

It was a success. Up until to now we got many compliments from participants and keynote speakers. We had participants from Sweden, France, UK and, of course, from the Netherlands. Among them researchers from academia and from the private sector; a total of 83 participants. The opening was supported by the Brazilian Embassy (Ambassador Piragibe Tarragô) and Consulate (Deputy Consul General Pedro Magalhães), followed by Han Dommers education representative from EP-Nuffic (the Netherlands) and Dr Fábio Castro from the Center of Latin America Studies (CEDLA). We had two panels, one focused on Science & Technology and another on Human Sciences. The future of biological research was discussed, along with alternatives for animal studies, water technology, gender questions, migration, superdiversity, cultural shock, the human side of business, etc. In both panels, all presentations were followed by stimulating discussions. Also, we had contests for oral and poster presentations to promote new talents. Besides this, we had a picture presentation (Brasilidade) from the Brazilian/Dutch photographer and journalist Margô Dalla. During our coffee breaks, lunch and closing cocktail we promoted the network among participants. It was great to see people exchanging cards and making new scientific contacts while enjoying typical Brazilian snacks and drinking caipirinhas.

What’s next for Apeb-NL (or APEBs)?

We are now organizing the conference reports for our members and sponsors, and we have a list with options for upcoming workshops to be discussed. The other APEBs are also intensively working and there is an agenda to be posted with all the activities before the summer. Also, we need to decide which APEB will host the V European Conference. About the II APEB-NL Annual meeting, this week we already received an invitation from two universities to prepare the 2016 conference together. For sure, with a greater number of participants!

Attachment: Representatives of Associations of Brazilian Postgraduate Students and Researchers in Europe (520.71 KB)