“The Digital Microfluidics Platform for Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification of DNA” by Beatriz Coelho, was the winning thesis of the FEMS Master’s Thesis Awards competition recently held in Budapest.
How was the experience of participating in Junior EUROMAT in Budapest and representing Portugal and SPM in this contest for the best European thesis?
It was a unique experience in many ways. First, it is always an immense responsibility to represent my Faculty, especially my Country, as we are such a small country within Europe. For the national selection phase, after much consideration, I decided to risk, not raising my expectations much, since I have perfect notion of the excellent work developed by my colleagues in other national universities. To my great surprise, I won the first prize at national level, which gave me the opportunity to contact European colleagues and get to know their work, as well as allowing me to visit a country that is completely unknown to me, with a culture very different from ours.
What does it feel like to be the first winner of this European prize?
When I knew that I had come first, beyond all the pride I felt, I recognized all the hard work I had in my thesis, which gave me even more motivation to continue my research, and go on to the PhD.
In terms of learning, was it important to have had the opportunity to participate in Junior EUROMAT?
Yes of course! It is always very positive to know what is done in other countries, and to realize that despite the little we have, we have been able to do a lot. Junior EUROMAT included several lectures covering a wide range of subjects associated with Materials Science, which undoubtedly widened my knowledge.
How do you consider the atmosphere of this meeting?
The Junior EUROMAT Conference has a unique environment. Not only the participants (mostly young researchers under 30), but also the venue chosen to host the event: one of the biggest and best-known nightclubs in Budapest. Imagine a coffee break after a lecture in a basement whose roof consisted of a swimming pool, with a clear view of the sky and the people who circulated in the park around the pool. I also had the opportunity to meet lots of researchers and even professors from different areas and with very different backgrounds, with whom I still have contact.
Do you advise other young students and researchers to participate?
Of course, It is always worth trying, and it is always very beneficial to know other types of work developed in the area, other people, other cultures, other countries.
What words will you leave to students who are thinking of competing for best SPM thesis award 2018 to be awarded on next World Materials Day celebrated at FEUP?
Consider applying for this prize as a good investment: you have nothing to lose, and all you get is always a gain. Maybe they even know your future start-up partner they will create!