Note from BW of Brazil: These are the types of stories that I love to feature here at Black Women of Brazil! Over the years we’ve seen a number of horror stories involving African and Haitian immigrants in Brazil so it’s great to be able to post noteworthy accomplishments that show what immigrants, children of immigrants or Afro-Brazilians can achieve if given the opportunity, access to knowledge and the tools to succeed. Like Maria Augusta Arruda and Sonia Guimarães, Nadia Ayad is a black woman making moves in the world of science and I’m looking forward to hearing more about this dynamic young lady!
Brazilian wins world competition for carbon research
Still in the grad program at IME, the (now) engineer Nadia Ayad won a world-wide competition and wants to improve the use of biomaterials in the area of health
By Priscila Bellini
The life of Nadia Ayad, a recent graduate in materials engineering from the Instituto Militar de Engenharia (Military Engineering Institute or IME), changed a lot in 2016. In addition to graduating from the institution, located in Rio de Janeiro, Nadia took first place in Sandvik’s global challenge on the use of graphene, a carbon-based material.
It was a golden opportunity. With the call to the challenge, Nadia looked over the studies that existed about the substance, regarded with enthusiasm scientists. Derived from graphite, this is a compound 200 times stronger than steel and has won the title of the best thermal and electrical conductor in the world. It was up to the Brazilian, who already had experience in research, to design a project to use the material in filtration devices and desalination systems. The project is based on a constant and justified concern: how to guarantee that we have access to drinking water in the future? Initiatives such as those elaborated by the Brazilian can suggest a path.
Science abroad, science in Brazil
Although Nadia already had a little foot in the area of research from an early age, thanks to the academic career of her parents of Sudanese origin, the experience in the universities where she studied was worth a lot. After starting the engineering training at IME, a leading institution in Brazil, she obtained a Ciência Sem Fronteiras (Science Without Borders) scholarship to study in England.
At the University of Manchester, where she spent a year, she had contact with big names in the area and with the research fields she was interested in. “In England, I could see where the research is today. They have many resources and access to many facilities to make it happen,” Nadia summarizes.
This experience in the UK made also gave her have access to internships, such as what she did at Imperial College London. From there, she can work on the development of a polymer that replaces heart valves. It was a way of understanding, in more general terms, the mechanical part of the cells, and how the surrounding stimuli – such as increased blood flow, for example – influenced the functioning of the heart.
“I want to improve science in Brazil”
With her internship at Imperial College in the bag and a strong background in materials engineering, Nadia decided to apply directly to the PhD abroad. Instead of passing through a Msters degree, she applied directly to universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the list of institutions, there are well-known names, such as the American MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the British University of Cambridge.
“I want people in the future not to have to go outside to have access to cutting-edge research”
Nadia Ayad’s PhD project addresses the use of biomaterials to induce stem cells to form tissues such as cartilage, for example, in a 3D version. In foreign universities, Brazilians find more opportunities for the subject and also more resources. “But I also see that there are many positive aspects in Brazil. The experience abroad shows that it is possible to learn from what is done abroad and, at the same time, to understand what we do good here,” explains Nadia.
With an eye on her academic career and focused on the potential uses of biomaterials within medicine, Nadia intends to bring more discussions about her subject of analysis to Brazil, where the field of studies is taking its first steps. “I want people in the future not to have to go outside (of Brazil) to access cutting-edge research.”
Source: Estudar Fora