Marco, merci beaucoup d'avoir accepté l'interview.
· Can you describe how did you decided to start a PhD and why you did decide to do it in France? I start to study chemistry aiming to become a science teacher. However, during my undergrad studies I joined a Polymers’ study group as research assistant and start to consider other options. After one year I decided to go further in my studies and try to combine the role of researcher and lecturer in chemistry. Thus, I decided to pursuit a master in this area. At the time, Brazil was also lunching the « science without boarders » program and I start to consider a PhD abroad. It could be a way to improve my scientific skills and to grow as a person at same time. Since the laboratory I was working had strong bonds with French universities, my supervisor at the time encouraged me to try a scholarship in Grenoble University. I was lucky enough to choose my PhD supervisor, my topic of research and get a granted scholarship.
· Was it difficult moving abroad and adapt to a different culture ?
Move abroad is always hard, especially for the first time. At the time I was studying French for a while, but was not able to communicate fast enough. So is inevitable that you will have difficult to communicate complex opinions, which is very frustrating. I put some honest effort on it and it got better along my second year. However, I still think I am smarter in Portuguese than in French or English. I don’t think that cultural life was so different, but I certainly open my mind for many situations. Also, I realize that loneliness can be overwhelming sometimes and you really need other people around you. Human bonds and the contact with French scientific culture are probably the most valuable thing in my thesis. In general, researchers were more open for collaboration between complementary areas and usually are more confident about their own work. This is something I try to always keep in mind.
· How this thesis influenced your career until now? Strongly. The opportunity of study under supervision of well know researchers, in a laboratory with great know-how and structure, allowed me to work with different people in very interesting projects. It allowed me to get a very nice postdoc position after my thesis and a scientific job in a pharmaceutical industry later, which is not common in Brazil for someone with a PhD. The combination of these experiences in academic and industrial research are fundamental in my actual position, where I work in the interface of university and pharmaceutical industry.
· How the competences that you developed during your PhD helped you in your academic and industrial research?
As PhD student you have opportunity to interact with different areas and thoughts. Since universities are usually multicultural spaces, you are daily confronted with situations which gives you the opportunity to develop different soft skills. You can observe different approaches to the same problem and figure what works better for you. I definitely think that work in different laboratories was very important for me as scientist, and my PhD period has a central role on this. A major challenge I am facing constantly in my career over the years is how to research with autonomy and how to communicate my findings for different publics. This is essential in industry, and it’s a painful and complex process in which a PhD can be very useful.
· Which kind of advices do you can give to a student who wants to start a thesis?
For many, a thesis is a unique opportunity to study a very specific topic for so long. So, try to choose wisely and pick up something you think that can be interesting for you in the future. It will influence your career for a while. If possible, change your laboratory, university, country. Try to learn new skills not only about your area, but about the research and life culture as well. If everything goes fine, it will change the way as you see the word.