27/07/2021 04:31

Serrapilheira fourth call to support 12 young scientists with up to R$700.000

  • Institutional

Researchers were selected among 505 candidates and will receive funds for the next three years


On July 15th, the Serrapilheira Institute announced the 12 young researchers selected under the fourth public call for science support. Each scientist will receive up to R$700,000 to invest in their projects for the next three years. They will also have access to additional funds, known as the diversity bonus, to invest in training and including individuals from under-represented groups in the research teams.

The selection process looked for original, bold projects seeking to answer major questions that will contribute to basic knowledge in natural sciences, computer science and mathematics. In the first stage, 505 young scientists submitted a preliminary proposal. Out of these, 47 applicants were invited to submit a final proposal and were subsequently interviewed by international reviewers.

“We have built a diverse project portfolio that combines scientific excellence with different degrees of risk”, states Serrapilheira Science Director, Cristina Caldas. The research covers topics such as geometric analysis (mathematics), remote sensing (computer science), urban ecology (life sciences), cosmology and quantum information (physics) and climate change (geosciences), just to name a few.

“It takes time and money to train scientists. We need to ensure that talented graduates, whose excellence was demonstrated in the selection process, have continuous access to funding and that the public and the private sectors think together about how to offer better conditions for doing science in Brazil”, adds Caldas. “We believe that supporting young researchers with long-term and flexible funding at the beginning of their careers when they are setting up their teams and laboratories is a model that deserves to be replicated by other organizations.”


Meet the 12 selected scientists and their projects:


Computer science

Jefersson dos Santos, Federal University of Minas Gerais

Santos will investigate how to produce large-scale geographic mapping through supervised learning from a few annotated pixels.


Life sciences

Cristiane Calixto, University of São Paulo

Calixto studies the response of plants to changes in temperature. In the project, she will investigate how post-transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms contribute towards temperature memory and heat responses in rice.

Luiz Gustavo Gardinassi, Federal University of Goiás

Gardinassi’s research is about how the gut microbiome affects tolerance to malaria, seeking to understand potential molecular mechanisms involved.

Mychael Lourenço, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Lourenço studies glial stress pathways and impacts on brain function, such as cognition and mood. He is one of the researchers who identified irisin, a hormone that increases in blood after physical exercise and protects the brain against memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.

Raul Costa Pereira, Campinas State University

Pereira seeks to understand how human diversity and social inequalities affect urban biodiversity.



Bárbara Amaral, University of São Paulo

Amaral studies how to exploit quantum systems to implement bit commitment protocols, a key step in various cryptography applications.

Elisa Ferreira, University of São Paulo

Ferreira researches dark matter, one of the greatest mysteries in cosmology, and takes part in the BINGO telescope project, an international collaboration under Brazilian leadership aiming at studying the evolution of the universe. BINGO may ultimately place Brazil at the center stage of science in astronomy by fostering scientific and technological development, as  scientists and resources are scarce in this area.

Thiago Fleury, IIF/Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte

Fleury seeks to understand the mechanism behind holography, a phenomenon present in quantum gravity theories, still an open question in physics.



Vinícius Ribau Mendes, Federal University of São Paulo

Mendes investigates what will happen to precipitation in South America if (or when) the Atlantic Meridional Circulation collapses.



Dirk Erhard, Federal University of Bahia

Erhard’s project is dedicated to understanding the macroscopic phenomena of microscopic models of random interaction.

Rafael Montezuma, Federal University of Ceará

Montezuma studies new min-max theory perspectives for the area functional, expanding geometric analysis studies in Brazil. The theory seeks to explore methods for controlling and classifying minimal surfaces, which can be physically visualized as soap film surface, and geometric invariant naturally obtained through variational methods, as well as their interactions with other fields of global differential geometry and general relativity.



Daniel Grasseschi, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Grasseschi will perform single atom manipulation on two-dimensional materials, such as the pieces on a chessboard, to better understand how coordination chemistry can be exploited to control the electronic, optical, and chemical properties of these materials.


Below is the list of reviewers who participated in the selection process:


Amy Zanne, George Washington University, United States

Ana Domingos, University of Oxford, England

Angela Sessitsch, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

Artur Avila, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Claudio Silva, New York University, United States

Daniel Mucida, The Rockefeller University, United States

Freddy Cachazo, Perimeter Institute, Canada

Gareth Law, University of Helsinki, Finland

Guosong Chen, Fudan University, China

Hans Lambers, The University of Western Australia, Australia

Ivan de Araújo, School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States

Juliana Freire, New York University, United States

Karen Hallberg, Centro Atomico Bariloche, Argentina

Lars Jansen, University of Oxford, England

Luiz Oliveira, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

Marcelo Nóbrega, The University of Chicago, United States

María J. Esteban, Ceremade – Université Paris Dauphine, France

Pedro Camargo, University of Helsinki, Finland

Ricardo Torres, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Roberto Weinberg, Monash University, Australia

Sonia Esperanca, National Science Foundation (retired), United States

Victor Arroyo-Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico

Yehu Moran, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel