As phase two of the MIT Portugal Program winds down and the new MIT Portugal ramps up, our visiting students are getting the most out of their time on campus. Our current cohort of students hails from all over the world - from Porto to Pakistan.

Their areas of study include management of engineering systems in times of organizational transformation and rapid change, machine learning and AI as applied to the critical care services in hospitals, sustainable energy systems and much more.


What is your area of research and how will that research change the future?

Maria Raimundo, Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon)
Maria RaimundoI'm just half way through my PhD in Bioengineering Systems. My research focuses on the value proposition and adopted strategies of genetic testing companies worldwide. For that I've looked into how the improvement of next generation sequencing technologies contributed to emergence and development of the genetic testing market, especially wellness genetics. And, how the regulatory gap contributed to the growth of the wellness genetic testing market. Hopefully, it will help genetic testing companies adapt their business models more effectively and improve their value proposition, according to the regulatory environment and the customers' perception and needs. This will ultimately trigger the increased use of genetic tests as a routine personalized medicine tool in the healthcare system.

André Filipe Duarte da Silva, Instituto Superior Técnico
André Filipe Duarte da SilvaI am currently finishing my PhD and I’m working in machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to the critical care services in hospitals. I believe very strongly that artificial intelligence is the way forward for many different areas of science and of society. We are generating more data than ever before, and human analysts just cannot analyse it all in a useful amount of time. This data can contain a lot of useless information but more often than not it also contains incredible nuggets of knowledge that we would be wasting if we don’t find a better way to organize and analyse it. This is where artificial intelligence comes in, by training these algorithms to identify useful information we can easily integrate it in whatever systems we need, creating dynamic solutions for everyday problems.

Olga Savchuk, Instituto Superior Técnico
Olga SavchukI am half way through my PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems. To retain and improve our level of comfort, we need to practice sustainable and resilient ways to fuel our society. Renewable energy comes at a cost of great uncertainties for the system, which means higher risks of failures. Machine Learning can create value by improving consistency of operation and reducing the need for maintenance routines of power systems. 

Fernando Caixeta Lisboa, University of Coimbra
Fernando Caixeta Lisboa My area of research is Sustainable Energy Systems. I am in the second year of my Ph.D. For myself, sustainability should lead the world forward. Therefore, if you increase the Sustainable Energy Systems use, it is possible to have more sustainable actions.


Which lab or professor are you working with? What knowledge or skills will you bring back to your university?

Aldo Robles Arevalo, Instituto Superior Técnico
I am working with Stan Finkelstein (IDSS) and Leo Celi (IMES). I will bring back the skill of how to work and lead projects with colleagues having different backgrounds and to share knowledge. But mainly, confidence and to not be afraid of expressing your ideas and point of views.

Benjamin Meindl, Instituto Superior Técnico
Benjamin MeindlAt MIT my host is Daron Acemoglu, an Economist, who developed a method to "Modeling Automation." Due to the high interdisciplinary nature of my work I am also reaching out to people from other departments.
I will bring back three things: Contacts- to many people I am meeting here, who work on related fields and might become great partners to discuss ideas and get feedback. Methods- MIT offers a variety of classes or lecture series that I can attend, which allows me to extend my knowledge in, e.g., Natural Language Processing or Economics. Ideas- discussing my work with different people gives many ideas for future research directions, and feedback of how to frame my work to maximize impact.

André Mendes de Carvalho, University of Minho
André Mendes de CarvalhoHere at MIT I’m working with Eric Rebentisch, at the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. More than anything, I developed new, broader perspectives and acquired a new approach to science and research. I feel like I am now more capable of going straight to the point and addressing a problem in a more practical way, even when considering a wider set of variables in a system. I have also learned a lot on how important it is to have an innovative and entrepreneurial perspective over science in general and our research projects in particular; and how communicating it efficiently is vital.


What are your plans for when you return to your home university?

Olga Savchuk
I plan to expand my model to better fit the use cases in a European context.

Kashif Mushtaq, University of Porto, Portugal
Kashif MushtaqResearch Area is Energy Storage and he is completing his PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems.
Working with Prof. Dr. Donald Robert Sadoway at Group Sadoway Laboratory of Department of Materials Science & Engineering (DMSE).
I will be an ambassador of carrying forward the MIT mission to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and to invent key solutions of the problems that will best serve the nation. I seek to develop in each member of my community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind. And obviously last but not the least, I will try to finish my PhD research ????.

Francisco José Nibau Antunes, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Francisco José Nibau AntunesTransportation Systems, PhD student working with Professor Christopher Zegras, MIT Department of Transportation and Urban Planning.
I plan to continue my research this time, however, enhanced by the contacts, knowledge and experience I have acquired at MIT. The idea is that this link to MIT is not broken at all with my return to Portugal. Quite the contrary, it should be maintained and strengthened not only for the sake of my current work, but also for future research collaboration projects.


What would you recommend to other international visiting students who are at MIT?

Maria Raimundo
Once you know you'll be able to come to MIT, start looking for accommodation by sending out emails through MIT's housing database and schedule the viewings the week before starting you studies here, or even earlier. This will give you a better chance of finding a nice place to stay and not needing to move very often. Also, if you're staying during the winter, invest in a good winter jacket. You'll definitely need it!

Francisco José Nibau Antunes
Live the MIT experience fully! Meet professors, experts, other students, staff, people in general, get acquainted with ongoing and future research projects, attend to classes and talks, do sports, travel...the list of possibilities is virtually endless. Oh, I almost forgot: in the process get some free food to unsure that you have enough energy to handle this multidimensional experience.

Kashif Mushtaq
MIT is full of events, probably like a big buffet of dishes and one cannot eat all the dishes at once. So, one should choose according to his/her tastes. My advice is to be focused and choose the events which are yummier as per your taste.


What is your favorite thing you have eaten in Boston/Cambridge? Or your favorite place to eat?

André Filipe Duarte da Silva
There is this very small and cute Chinese restaurant in Boston called Mary Chung’s and there they serve the best Chinese spicy food that I have eaten anywhere else! Don’t forget to bring a big appetite (the doses are pretty large) and cash, they don’t take cards.

Francisco José Nibau Antunes
Oh, so many things and places. Do we really need to talk about that? I just hope that I do not gain weight, that's all :)

André Mendes de Carvalho
Any good brunch will do… But I always recommend the lobster and the clam chowder!

Benjamin Meindl
Burger, Barbecue and Steak, even though I try to keep it for special occasions and stay with healthy food otherwise.

Maria Raimundo
As a healthy food lover, I really enjoy going to By Chloe to eat the best healthiest burger ever, with the air-fried sweet potato fries. Delicious!


What is the one thing someone should not miss in your hometown?

Aldo Robles Arevalo, Mexico City, Mexico
Visiting the National museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec castle, colonial palaces and numerous cathedrals in the downtown area to appreciate Hispanic baroque art. For those who love Frida Kahlo, I highly recommend a visit to the Coyoacan neighborhood, it is where she and Diego Rivera used to live. Of course, try the real tacos there.

Olga Savchuk, Kiev, Ukraine
Historical artifacts from the time of Kievan Rus, together with the art museum are the places one should visit in Kiev.

Maria Raimundo, Lisbon
Walk alongside the Tejo river or the Atlantic Ocean to see our beautiful coastline full of amazing beaches.

Kashif Mushtaq, Karachi, Pakistan
I have been living in Porto for the last two years, but my hometown is Karachi, Pakistan- nicknamed the “City of Lights.” One should never miss a chance to taste the delicious dish named as “Biryani” and it is best to eat it at “Do Darya”. This street is full of restaurants with facades on the beach and Arabian Sea.

Fernando Caixeta Lisboa, Uberlândia, Brazil
Certainly, the food. In my city, it is possible to eat the famous and unique Pão-de-queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread ball).