Paula Ferreira

Paula Ferreira

I am Paula Ferreira, and I am a Coordinator Researcher at CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials of the University of Aveiro (UA), Portugal. Since January 2017, I have been on a quest in the world of science. I earned my stripes with an Analytical Chemistry Degree in 1996 at UA and later pursued a MPhil Degree in Pure & Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK in 1997. In 2000, I proudly earned my PhD at UA.

My scientific journey took me on an exciting detour as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Munich for 14 months, and later as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Eventually, I found my place as a CICECO Research Assistant by the end of 2004.

Over the years, I have secured over 4M€ in funding for engineering research, leading numerous national and collaborative projects. My passion lies in designing and characterizing functional materials, including ferroelectrics, multiferroics, and electrically conductive wonders. Additionally, I have immersed myself in the realm of biomaterials, exploring functional polysaccharides-based materials for healthcare and electronic devices application.

I had or have mentored 13 post-doctoral fellows, 18 Ph.D. candidates, 37 Master’s students, and over 40 last-year project students. With a publication record of over 157 papers and 5 book chapters, I am actively participating in the management committees of my University, Departmental and CICECO.

I was honored with the Women in Science 2023 award in Portugal.

Choosing science was not a family tradition for me; rather, it was the influence of an extraordinary high school teacher who lit the spark of fascination within me. It ability to make complex concepts engaging and accessible drew me into the captivating world of science. As a researcher and research coordinator at CICECO, the most challenging aspect of my work is finding a delicate balance between preserving my scientific creativity while fulfilling all the responsibilities that come with academia.

On my career path, I faced difficulties as a woman hailing from a country that was scientifically in a somewhat delayed phase. Breaking through and earning trust in my work was a struggle, but I have always been tenacious, ready to fight to prove my worth.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of a fantastic PhD supervisor and encountered great colleagues and collaborators who played pivotal roles in my growth. Their mentorship and support have been instrumental in shaping my journey. Beyond the lab, I find joy in spending time with my family and exploring the world around us. Balancing career and personal life is undoubtedly challenging, as I strive for perfection in both realms, including fostering a home filled with joy and happiness for my kids. If I could advise my younger self, I would stress the importance of prioritizing family over work and setting aside time for contemplation. In encouraging girls and young women to choose STEM education, I believe in equal encouragement for both genders. With proper guidance and stimulation, young students can make informed decisions, irrespective of gender. I advocate for providing equal opportunities and support to all aspiring minds in the STEM fields.