Gathering evidence of research impact on professional practice and education in Brazil

In 24 days (4-28 April 2018), Dr Luciana Esteves visited five universities across South (UNIVALI), Southeast (USP and UNIFESP) and Northeast (UFRN and UFCG) Brazil, flying 15741 miles (46h of travel excluding road travel and airport transfers). Click here to see a map with all the locations visited. In a truly fusion fashion, she engaged with students, academics and government agencies in activities that ranged from teaching, visiting study areas and taking part in an event organised by students to promote women in geosciences to meeting the VC of UNIVALI (who had just taken his post in the previous week) and the Secretary of Environment of Guaruja on a sunny Sunday! It was a very busy period indeed! As things happen when you are out and about, I also made new contacts and links with colleagues from UFES, UEPB, UNISANTA and others.

The key achievements and highlights of the visit include:

  • Submission of a proposal to Newton Funds Researcher Links involving colleague from UFES, UNIVALI and UFPE.
  • Publication of the article ‘Impact of the Urbanisation Process in the Availability of Ecosystem Services in a Tropical Ecotone Area’ in the journal Ecosystems (Impact Factor=4.198) – the first author is a PGR from UFCG I co-supervise (we addressed the reviewers’ comments during my visit).
  • I was able to attend a meeting at UNIFESP (in Santos, SP) of the research project ‘Praias’ (Beach Morphodynamic Response to Sea Level Rise and Extreme Events funded by CAPES), in which I am an international collaborator. The project is led by USP, and has collaborators from UFES, UNISANTA, INPE.
  • It was great to visit Bertioga and Guarujá (2h30 drive from USP in São Paulo), the two study areas of the Praias project in the state of São Paulo (two other areas are in the state of Espirito Santo). The visit was led by the project PI and locally hosted in Bertioga by two staff from the Secretary of Environment. In Guaruja, we managed to meet the Secretary of Environment for a chat by the seafront. It was Sunday just before lunch time, so his wife and son also came along!
  • I met with the VC of UNIVALI and the Director of the School of Sea, Science & Technology at UNIVALI to discuss teaching, research and student exchange partnerships. UNIVALIS’s VC is planning to visit partner universities in Europe in 2019 and expressed interest to visit BU as well. Hopefully BU will have a formal partnership with them by then. I also met PG programme leaders from UNIVALI, UFCG and USP to discuss co-supervision of students, teaching and research collaboration, particularly with our new MSc Marine and Freshwater Management (starting in 2019), which I will lead.
  • I taught a 16h course on Ecosystem-based management in coastal areas at UNIVALI and USP, which were well-subscribed reaching a total of 70 attendees (a mix of practitioners, staff and UG/PG students. Despite the amount of work involved, I enjoyed the enthusiasm of participants, as they were very engaged and seemed truly inspired by the course content and activities. There is interest of the PG programmes of both universities to make the course an annual or bi-annual feature.
  • A key objective of the visit was to gather evidence of research impact on professional practice from stakeholders (mainly SEMURB and IDEMA) collaborating within the VALSA project (Valuation of ecosystem services in coastal areas, funded by CAPES). With SEMURB we discussed methods they are implementing to create a green corridor based on ecosystem services value. With IDEMA, we discussed ways in which methods developed within the VALSA project can support the development of Ecological and Economic plans for the Rio Grande do Norte state. As a bonus, we had a call from the Ministry of Environment, as they wanted to discuss collaboration in a proposal for the EU-Brazil Sectors Dialogue call.

 

The prospects for future collaborations are great, but one must overcome the difficulties posed by the complexities of our current travel policy!

Luciana Esteves

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