MIT senior student awarded with one of the three 2018 Marshall Scholarships was recently in Portugal for an internship

Nick Schwartz, who performed a internship in Portugal under the MISTI Portugal program in 2016, was one of the three MIT students to be named winners of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. Nick won the scholarship Funded by the British government that supports one or two years of graduate study in any field at a U.K. institution. This year, Marshall Scholarships were awarded to 43 top American students.

During his internship at CEIIA, a world class Center for Innovation and Creative Engineering in Porto, he helped enhance drone technology and had the opportunity to meet the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, and even take a group photo to capture the moment.

Nick Shwartz and António CostaNick Schwartz (on the right) with Prime Minister António Costa

In 2016 and 2017 the MISTI Program brought to Portugal seven students per year from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a unique internship experience abroad. The success of the collaboration between MISTI and the MIT Portugal Program, which started officially in 2014 and already gave the opportunity to 25 MIT undergrads and graduate students to emerge in the Portuguese entrepreneurial sector.

 MISTI is a pioneer in international education, by helping MIT students to develop practical intercultural skills through hands-on opportunities in over 30 countries. MISTI's mission is to ensure that students have a rich experience that broadens their academic, professional, and personal horizons and prepares them to be global leaders in their field of study.

 More information about Nick´s profile here.

Events & Seminars for MPP visiting students at MIT

Since the first program phase, MPP has hosted more than 200 MPP student visits at MIT. Visiting students conduct part of their doctoral thesis at MIT in the research groups of their MIT thesis co-advisors, leading to scientific breakthroughs and co-publication of scientific papers. Students stay at MIT for a period of 4-12 months to benefit from the immersion and rich experience in the MIT ecosystem; visits are described as extremely positive and highly influential, with students achieving strong gains in new methodological approaches, scientific knowledge in areas of interest, and entrepreneurial ideas.

In addition to the countless events and seminars available to MPP students at MIT, the MIT MPP office has been offering MPP-specific group events and seminars to stimulate the exchange of experiences and ideas among MPP students and faculty, and to expose students to relevant research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in areas of interest. Recent events include an MPP student group meeting in September 2017, with students presenting and discussing their research with fellow students and MPP faculty; and in October 2017, Prof. Douglas Hart’s seminar on the “Entrepreneurial Journey.”

In November of 2017, four MPP student events were organized:

November 9

MPP students presented and discussed their research with fellow students and MPP faculty.

November 9Participants from left to right: Beatriz Gonçalves (MPP student), Prof. Bruce Tidor (MPP Director at MIT), Prof. Pedro Arezes (MPP Director in Portugal), Carlos Teixeira (MPP student), Luís Coimbra (MPP student), Marisa Pedro (MPP student), Guillermo Pereira (MPP student), Juliana Mitkiewicz (MPP student), Thiago Sobral (MPP student), Ana Vila-Santa (MPP student), Vanessa Cunha (MPP student).

November 15

Presentation: “Inspired Engineering” by Christina Chase, Lecturer, MIT Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and the Managing Director of the [email protected] Sports Technology Group.

November 15Participants from left to right: Prof. Pedro Arezes (MPP Director in Portugal), Dr. Gonçalo Pereira (Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, MPP graduate), Vanessa Cunha (MPP student), Ana Vila-Santa (MPP student), Dr. Federico Cismondi (Director of Industry Program, MPP at MIT, MPP graduate), Beatriz Gonçalves (MPP student), José das Neves (MPP student), Luís Coimbra (MPP student), Christina Chase (Lecturer, MIT Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and the Managing Director of the [email protected] Sports Technology Group)

November 28 - Workshop:” MATLAB® Programming for Advanced Research and Data Science”

MIT Portugal Program students, currently at MIT, organized this MATLAB® workshop. The presenter was Gonçalo Pereira, PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems from Instituto Superior Técnico of The University of Lisbon and a MPP alumni. Dr. Pereira is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society at MIT and involved in one of the MPP seed projects at MIT. The focus of the workshop was on tools provided by the Matlab® software that can support PhD students in their research, focusing on topics related to Data Analysis and Visualization, Statistical Analysis, Optimization, and Computational Efficiency.

November 28Participants from left to right: Vanessa Cunha (BIO - E - IST), Luís Coimbra (DPTS - UC), Marisa Pedro (DPTS - IST), Duarte Dias (IST), Beatr iz Gonçalves (EDAM - UM), Carlos Teixeira (EDAM - UM), Dr. Gonçalo Pereira (Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, MPP graduate) and Thiago Sobral (DPTS - FEUP).

November 30 - Workshop: “Designing Your Life” by MIT Graduate Student Career Services.

Dr. Jake Livengood, Senior Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Services at MIT Global Education & Career Development, and his colleagues presented on the “Design Your Life” approach (DYL), originally created by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans from the Stanford University Design Program. The MIT Student Career Services team introduced the DYL approach and engaged the MPP students in various exercises to familiarize them with the basic concepts of design thinking and how it can be applied to further their career.

November 30Participants from left to right (and back to front): Sean Clarke (Speaker), José das Neves (MPP Student), Vanessa Cunha (MPP Student), Marisa Pedro (MPP Student), Ana Vila-Santa(MPP Student), Beatriz Gonçalves (MPP Student), Luís Coimbra (MPP Student), Cátia Bandeiras (MPP Student), Carlos Teixeira (MPP Student), Guillermo Pereira (MPP Student), Tianna Ransom (Speaker), Thiago Sobral (MPP Student), Jake Livengood (Speaker) and Gonçalo Pereira (Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, MPP graduate).

MIT Portugal Program student awarded with the REN 2017 Prize for the best Master’s Thesis

Bruna Tavares won the REN Award 2017 and a 12.500€ prize with the work developed during her Master´s Thesis. The researcher has created a new monitoring method that prevents electric network failures and increases the quality of service, allowing a more effective way to monitor the power grid. Currently she is a MIT Portugal Program first year PhD student in Sustainable Energy Systems at INESC TEC/ Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).

To understand the method developed by Bruna Tavares we must think of the concept of a robot that is pursuing a certain route and along the way he picks up light and acoustic signals for directions, using them to create an internal map that helps to explain the outside reality. The researcher´s proposal consists in applying the same concept to the electric system by “using the same method of recording the signals registered from different devices to better understand the conditions of the Portuguese power grid”.

Along the power grid system there are the so-called conventional sensors to measure the conditions of the network, but recently countries like Brazil or Spain use more advanced sensors, which collect measurements of the electrical system displaying the time and GPS location. The cost of these sensors is still relatively high however they can be combined with conventional sensors along the grid.

Currently there are still no advanced sensors installed in the Portuguese power grid system so this method developed by Bruna Tavares suggests their inclusion will allow to gather the information required. According to the researcher it´s this possibility to better understand the electrical network that allows the operator to "control and increase the quality of the network service" and this "will lead to a better performance in the service provided to the consumer."

The researcher at the Center for Energy Systems (CPES) of the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), explains that " the final consumer takes for granted the electrical power supply at their homes, but to make this happen with quality and accuracy, it´s necessary to take into account several processes."

Bruna Tavares also added: “the method I've developed along with researchers Vladimiro Miranda and Jorge Pereira presents different criteria to estimate measures on the network and despite still not being used by the Industry, have many advantages, namely overlook errors in measurements."

This method was developed during Bruna Tavares Master’s thesis which was supervised by Vladimiro Miranda, INESC TEC Director and full Professor at FEUP and co-supervised by Jorge Pereira, INESC TEC researcher and Professor at the School of Economics and Management of the University of Porto. Currently she is attending the first year of the MIT Portugal Program Sustainable Energy Systems Doctoral Program at INECT TEC/ FEUP to continue and perfect the work developed during her Masters.

In the media: Jornal Económico, Público (P3), Computerworld, Expresso, TV Europa

brunatavaresBruna Tavares

Study led by MPP Faculty Lino Ferreira and MPP Alumni Sezin Aday finds how to increase the survival time of stem cells

A team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Coimbra, led by Dr. Lino Ferreira, MIT Portugal Program Faculty and researcher at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) in collaboration with Langer Lab at MIT (USA), has developed a new technology, which is promising to understand and treat ischemic diseases. This research is the result of the work initiated by Bioengineering PhD Alumni at IST Sezin Aday during her MPP Doctoral Program whose PhD thesis was advised both by Lino Ferreira and Robert Langer. Under MIT Portugal Program she was able to spend the first year’s studies of this work in Langer Lab at MIT.

Ischemic diseases (such as stroke, heart attack, limb ischemia etc.) are caused by the obstruction of a blood vessel preventing blood flow to the tissue and are the leading cause of death around the world. This limited oxygen supply leads to the irreversible damage or death of the tissue. Stem cells might be used to regenerate the tissue with limited oxygen supply by forming new blood vessels and restore blood flow to the tissue. However, most of the cells die after injection and cannot help to have sufficient blood flow recovery.

The team found that by attaching a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to microscopic particles can increase the survival time of stem cells, which could be used to help healing of the tissues, after the injection into the body. To understand how this protein can increase the survival of the cells, the researchers checked the molecules called “microRNAs”, which are important for the function of the cells. They found that a microRNA called “microRNA-17” has decreased in the stem cells when attached vascular endothelial growth factor was used. To mimic what attached protein does, researchers decreased microRNA-17 amount in their cells and injected them into the leg muscle of the animals after cutting the blood flow to the leg. When the blood flow to the leg is cut, the leg starts to die. This might cause the loss of the toes or even the leg. However, the stem cells with decreased microRNA-17 can recover the blood flow in the leg by staying there longer and forming new blood vessels.

By finding a way to increase the life of the stem cells after injections, researcher can increase their existence in the tissue, thus, might help the regeneration of the tissues after the blockage of blood flow. The technique developed can help researchers to understand and treat other conditions, where survival of the cells is required. This platform might also be used for better integration of the cells to the tissue in cell therapy applications.

Paper “Synthetic microparticles conjugated with VEGF165 improve the survival of endothelial progenitor cells via microRNA-17 inhibition”

In the media: Jornal de Notícias; Diário de Notícias; Atlas da Saúde; PT Jornal; O JOGO; Açores online; Beiranews; Campeão das Províncias; IPress Journal Semanário; Lifestyle ao MinutoTSF - Rádio Notícias; Saúde Online; Sapo24

Sezin Aray PhotoSezin Aray working at CNC

Portuguese delegation led by Minister Manuel Heitor visits MIT

On the 17th and 18th October, a Portuguese delegation led by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, which also included the President of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Paulo Ferrão, and the CRUP representative, António Cunha, was at MIT in Boston, to discuss and plan the development of a new partnership between Portugal and the American university.

This visit is part of a series of contacts established between the Portuguese stakeholders and the American universities involved in the Science and Education international partnerships, namely MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and yhe University of Texas at Austin, aiming to define a new and more ambitious framework for these impactful international partnerships.

Manuel Heitor MITAntónio Cunha, Manuel Heitor and Paulo Ferrão at MIT