Vasco Portugal discusses his views for 2014 at SIC Noticias

MIT Portugal PhD Vasco Portugal and other Portuguese scientists discuss their views for 2014 at SIC Notícias tv program Expresso da Meia-Noite.

Expresso da Meia-Noite is a program that results from a SIC Notícias TV station collaboration with the weekly Newspaper Expresso. The jornalists Ricardo Costa and Nicholas Santos discuss current affairs (politics, economy, social issues) with four guests  every Friday, bewtteen 23-24h. 
On January 3rd, 2014, Vasco Portugal was invited to discuss his views for 2014 with three other fellow scientists (Maria Manuel Mota, that recently was awarded with the prestigious "Prémio Pessoa 2013"; Rui Paiva, CEO WeDo Technologies; and Simão Brito da Luz, PhD student at Griffith University, Australia.


MPP Project FireEngine at CBS News Radio San Francisco

CBS News Radio San Francisco has recently talked to Ross D. Collins about the results of the FireENgine project. Ross is one of the authors of the scientific paper published in the Journal of Environmental Management, where it is discussed a model illustrating the relationships that contribute to forest-fire management. 

FireEngine is one of the 20 Projects funded by FCT under the MIT Portugal Program. The paper that has been recently published results from the close interaction between Portuguese INESC TEC, MIT ESD and Portucel Soporcel researchers (Ross D. Collins, Richard de Neufville, João Claro Tiago Oliveira, Abílio P. Pacheco). They combined regional fire data, such as the number of fires and the amount of land burned per year, with interviews conducted with fire managers, policymakers, and academics to draw up a model illustrating the relationships that contribute to forest-fire management. Much like in business, they found fire management can fall into the firefighting trap: Energy and resources are spent mostly on fire suppression — putting out fires in the moment — while less attention is devoted to fire prevention, such as clearing brush and building fire lanes during the off-season.

In particular, the team identified a factor that exacerbates the firefighting trap: instinctive, automatic reactions to particularly damaging fire seasons. They found that after severe fires, policymakers — driven by public pressure — funnel more funds into fire suppression for the next season. While this may put people temporarily at ease, this attention to fire suppression may undermine prevention efforts. The result, counter-intuitively, is even worse fires the following season, due to the buildup of fire-prone materials such as dried tinder and dead trees.

Read also the full press release at MIT News

In the media:  

ScienceBlog ; Fire Engineering ; Physorg ; Laboratory Equipment 

FIRE-ENGINE at the national newspaper Público

The project FIRE-ENGINE was recently highlighted at the national newspaper Público.The news article reflected on the conclusions of the research paper Forest fire management to avoid unintended consequences: A case study of Portugal using system dynamics resulting from the joint work of Portuguese (INESC TEC), MIT and Portucel Soporcel researchers (Ross D. Collins, Richard de Neufville, João Claro Tiago Oliveira, Abílio P. Pacheco).

Under the auspices of the MIT Portugal Program, FIRE-ENGINE has been funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia and by the Group Portucel Soporcel.

Ross D. Collins, Richard de Neufville, João Claro Tiago Oliveira, Abílio P. Pacheco, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 130, 30 November 2013


Forest fires are a serious management challenge in many regions, complicating the appropriate allocation to suppression and prevention efforts. Using a System Dynamics (SD) model, this paper explores how interactions between physical and political systems in forest fire management impact the effectiveness of different allocations. A core issue is that apparently sound management can have unintended consequences. An instinctive management response to periods of worsening fire severity is to increase fire suppression capacity, an approach with immediate appeal as it directly treats the symptom of devastating fires and appeases the public. However, the SD analysis indicates that a policy emphasizing suppression can degrade the long-run effectiveness of forest fire management. By crowding out efforts to preventative fuel removal, it exacerbates fuel loads and leads to greater fires, which further balloon suppression budgets. The business management literature refers to this problem as the firefighting trap, wherein focus on fixing problems diverts attention from preventing them, and thus leads to inferior outcomes. The paper illustrates these phenomena through a case study of Portugal, showing that a balanced approach to suppression and prevention efforts can mitigate the self-reinforcing consequences of this trap, and better manage long-term fire damages. These insights can help policymakers and fire managers better appreciate the interconnected systems in which their authorities reside and the dynamics that may undermine seemingly rational management decisions.



MIT Portugal PhD student at UMinho selected to attend the Novartis Biocamp

Franklin Nóbrega, Bioengineering PhD student, has been selected to attend the Novartis International Biotechnology Leadership Camp. The international BioCamp brings together selected top students from science and business universities from around the world, this year sixty students from 21 countries were present at the Novartis HQ in Basel, Switzerland.

This was the third year in a row, that Bioengineerinh PhD students under the MIT Portugal Program were selected to attend the renowned event (Maria José Pereira - 2012- and Joana Rosado Coelho - 2011).

Franklin Nóbrega is currently pursuing is PhD at University of Minho and Wageningen, under the MIT Portugal Program, supervised by Leon Kluskens and Joana Azeredo.

At Expresso 12/09/2013 

pdf Expresso  


Professor Sangeeta Bhatia elected as one of The 10 most influential women in biotech


p-bhatiaProfessor Sangeeta Bhatia, an MIT Portugal Program Bio-Engineering faculty member has been elected as one of The 10 most influential women in biotech by the The Boston Globe.

In terms of female leadership, biotech sets the pace for other industries in Boston and there are still challenges to be address.  Here, the Boston Globe elected The 10 most influential women in biotech that are setting the pace for the sector at Massachusetts.

The Top 10 results from a consultation conducted by the Journal, male and female venture capitalists, executive recruiters, big company executives, and entrepreneurs were consulted.

Professor Sangeeta Bhatia heads the Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies that  is focused on the applications of micro- and nanotechnology to tissue repair and regeneration. The lab long term goals are to improve cellular therapies for liver disease, develop microtechnology tools to systematically study living cells, and design multifunctional nanoparticles for cancer applications.

At The Boston Globe: 

"The academic lab director: Sangeeta Bhatia

Educated at Brown, MIT, Harvard, and Massachusetts General Hospital, Bhatia now runs her own lab at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, overseeing about two dozen researchers. Among her lab’s projects are designing new kinds of nanoparticles that can accumulate around tumors, penetrate their tough exteriors, and essentially “open the door” so that targeted drugs can more completely destroy the tumors."