1. What was your initial thought when you realised you had been nominated for the Limelight section?
My initial thought was: “am I reading this right?” I was really surprised. Even though I knew about this section, I never expected to be in it.
2. When did you come to INESC TEC?
In 2007/2008, I was working as a research Grant holder in a project with Professor Jaime Cardoso at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP). Then there was an opportunity for me to come to INESC TEC and start my PhD. And so I became part of the team that works on breast cancer related projects. I was always interested in the area of health, and so this was like “icing on the cake”.
3. When did you realise that you wanted to do scientific research?
During the Degree, it’s not always possible to conduct research. However, I had the privilege of doing some extracurricular activities with FEUP’s Robotics group – the 5DPO –, which is currently integrated in INESC TEC’s Robotics Unit, ROBIS). During that period, I participated in various activities and projects that made me become interested in scientific research. After I concluded my Degree in 2004, I applied to a research grant. And here I am after almost 10 years.
4. You are part of the "Visual Computing and Machine Intelligence" (VSMI) group, which works on Information Processing and Pattern Recognition at INESC TEC’s Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit. Can you briefly describe the activity developed by the group?
The VCMI conducts fundamental and applied research in computing vision, image and video processing and analysis, machine learning and decision support systems. There are several areas where this research can be applied, such as medical imaging, handwritten documents, video monitoring and biometry.
5. What motivates a researcher with a PhD to work at INESC TEC?
INESC TEC is, without a doubt, one of the best research institutions in Portugal. This is enough motivation on its own. Personally, I had the opportunity to continue working in the area I did my PhD (which is not always possible), and for me it made perfect sense, so I grabbed the opportunity and I want to do more and better in this area. I believe that with all its organisational and structural capacity, and with its human resources, INESC TEC will help me fulfil my goals.
6. The European project PICTURE was the reason for your nomination. What is the long and medium term impact that this project can have on breast cancer treatment?
The VCMI group has been conducting research on breast cancer treatment for about 10 years. This project focuses on assessing the aesthetic result after surgery using photos of the patients, but more recently we have started using 3D information. With project PICTURE, our goal is to develop a 3D tool to plan surgeries that will certainly improve the communication between doctors and patients. Other than reassuring patients about the long term cosmetic results of surgery, the tool can also be used to assess the results of several therapy options. This way, this instrument is an important contribution to the discussions between physicians and patients on the best course of treatment, from a clinical point of view and for each patient. Furthermore, the tool can help surgeons optimise surgical aspects (such as the size and location for the incision), in order to minimise changes in the breast.
7. This is not the first health related project that you have been involved in. What did you think of the “OPEN DAY INESC TEC Health”, that gathered over 30 health-related projects that INESC TEC is involved in?
I believe that the Open Day was successful on all levels and proof of that is the number of representatives from companies, research centres and higher education institutions that participated in the event. The Health area is, without a doubt, one the areas with greatest impact on society, and an area where there are various problems to be solved. With this event, it was possible to understand the versatility of health related projects being developed at INESC TEC.
8. What are your main objectives for 2014?
Other than the objectives of project PICTURE, personally I want to consolidate my career as a researcher, always trying to improve my technical, human resources and project management skills. The latter is, without a doubt, the most challenging of all.
9. Which are, in your opinion, the main assets offered by INESC TEC/UTM to early stage researchers that choose to start their careers here?
I think that the most important asset is INESC TEC’s main structure. Because it is difficult for lecturers to be employed nationally, recent doctorates can start their research career smoothly, and work on new and exciting projects, thus preparing themselves for future challenges.
10. We conclude this brief questionnaire by asking you to comment on the statement provided by the managers of UTM where they nominated you.
Hélder Oliveira played an important role in the evaluation meeting of European project PICTURE, which took place last January. As part of this project, Hélder has been developing high quality technical management and execution tasks. Furthermore, his work as advisor to MSc and PhD students has been exemplary, as well as his other activities at UTM.
I would like to thank the UTM management for these words. As I’ve said before, I really wasn’t expecting this nomination, and it’s really gratifying to have our work acknowledged.
The work I’ve been developing in project PICTURE is particularly rewarding because it comes as a consequence of my PhD dissertation. I have always been interested in projects with direct application as opposed to strictly academic projects, and so there’s an additional satisfaction and motivation to working with real problems and particularly in health. Lastly, I would like to leave a word of appreciation to all the elements of the VCMI and Breast Research Groups who have been working directly with me in project PICTURE. Without them I would not have managed to achieve the goals I set out to achieve.
INESC TEC, February 2014
26th February 2014
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