National Scientist Day 2020

Scientists love asking questions…  so to celebrate the National Scientist Day, we decided to turn the tables on them  and ask them a few revealing questions in return!

(Disponível em Português)

When people think about scientists, they mostly think about a person in a lab coat with test tubes, what they don’t know is…

“…that not all scientists work in a lab. Many mostly work with computers, while others are outdoors for most of their careers.” – Cristina Afonso.

Cristina Afonso 

Postdoc. 
Neurobiology of Action Lab.

“… that they can be in a similar white coat but in the clinic, treating patients that will participate in ongoing clinical and translational research and inspire new questions for the future.” – Albino Oliveira-Maia.

“… that scientists are creative people and behind many scientists hide great artists and amazing cooks.” – Adriana Sánchez Danés.

“… that scientists in the Lab may sing or dance just from the joy of doing an experiment and from the excitement of having a new discovery… Basically people don’t know that we have long hours in the Lab and work hard but we also have a lot of fun! – Rita Fior.

“… how much time we spend in front of computers writing grant applications to get the money to do the actual experiments.” – Daniel Münch.

Daniel Münch

Postdoc. 
Behaviour & Metabolism Lab

“… that scientists have long working hours, which are filled with a lot of laughter and funny things.” – Marko Šestan.

“… most scientific work is done by thinking about problems, analysing data, reading and writing.” – Dennis Goldschmidt.

“…that the person in the lab coat, as well as many other scientists without lab coats, are the Sherlock Holmes of Nature, constantly thinking about how to understand every bit of reality.” – Gonzalo de Polavieja.

Science and scientists have been more than ever in the spotlight. In my opinion this…

“… is a great opportunity for society to integrate scientific knowledge in decision-making processes.” – Albino Oliveira-Maia.

“… is a practical example of how much weight they have on a society’s well being, a fact which is most of the time either taken for granted or not even very visible.” – Cristina Afonso.

“… is very good because increasing awareness about our work in general – but specifically in this pandemic situation – is very important. I hope that now the importance of vaccines will become clear for individuals and for society as a whole– how they save millions of lives! And I hope that parents that don’t vaccinate their children and put in danger their children and society stop that once and for all.” – Rita Fior.

“… makes sense. We critically depend on Science to solve some societal problems, so it makes sense that all science is looked up critically. ” – Gonzalo de Polavieja.

“… is amazing! It is very rewarding for scientists to promote public awareness, to foster a strong scientific culture and to disseminate their efforts to improve human health. In this moment, of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that people have access to accurate information and are aware of how each one’s behaviour can contribute to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission.” – Cristina Godinho da Silva.

“… important, but also challenging. One should not forget that scientists are just humans with the same imperfections and aspirations as others in life. And the scientific community as a system has similar competitive drives as other jobs. Having such a big spotlight can lead to bigger competition for scientists to “shine” in this spotlight, which may lead to rushed and imperfect results. However, it is important to have science and scientists more present in the public eye, because it can change the way people see scientific work to paint a more accurate picture.” – Dennis Goldschmidt.

“… should be all the time like this, because we all the time are working for the benefit of the world.” – Marko Šestan.

Marko Šestan 

Postdoc. 
Immunophysiology Lab

“… occurs because we are facing new and complex global problems, and society turns to science to find a solution to these challenges. Challenges that include pandemics, global warming, climate change or cancer, among others. If we want to meet all these challenges, this translates into investing in science and technology, investing in research.” – Adriana Sánchez Danés.

A “scientist skill” I think any person would benefit from is…

“… to always ask questions and to be critical about any opinions, even your own.” – Dennis Goldschmidt.

“… patience, resilience and overcoming failure, because those skills are not only essential to succeed in science but to grow as a person.” – Adriana Sánchez Danés.

Adriana Sánchez Danés 

Principal Investigator. 
Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Lab

“… data literacy. I feel that being able to not only parse which data sources are trustworthy but also be aware of the caveats accompanying how they’re being communicated is simultaneously one of the hardest and most useful skills a person can hone.” – Filipe Rodrigues.

“… critical thinking, because questioning and approaching whatever situation we face in our professional or personal lives with an open mind will lead us to the best possible conclusion/action and this is the path to individually and collectively innovate and progress.”  – Cristina Godinho da Silva.

Cristina Godinho da Silva 

Postdoc.
Immunophysiology lab.

“… curiosity. Because curiosity lets you discover new things every day and lets you admire and appreciate how fantastic the world around you is. Most importantly it keeps you open-minded, something that is especially important in times like these.” – Daniel Münch.

“… resilience. Because the path to new knowledge is mostly a frustrating one, full of obstacles and dead ends.” – Cristina Afonso.

“… problem-solving in general, especially in a deep way and allowing yourself a method to show you when you are wrong.” – Gonzalo de Polavieja.

My favourite and least favourite thing about being a scientist is…

“… that you get to be a jack of all trades, which of course leads me to my least favourite thing about it which is that you’re really a master of none. It is a real privilege to be confronted with such diversity in the day-to-day challenges, and to be given the chance to learn more about such a broad range of topics. By the same token, one person dealing with such a colourful assortment of problems is bound to be inefficient, which can be frustrating at times.” – Filipe Rodrigues.

Filipe Rodrigues 

PhD Student. 
Learning Lab.

“… my favourite thing is the constant pursuit to unveil the unknown and the excitement of getting for the first time an answer to a question no one addressed before. To generate new knowledge is fascinating… my least favourite thing is the professional instability.” – Cristina Godinho da Silva.

“… my favourite thing is having the opportunity to think outside of the box and being flexible about when and where to do your work… my least favourite thing is dealing with anxiety and pressure about uncertain future and financial support” -. Dennis Goldschmidt.

“… My favourite thing is being able to learn something new every day… my least favourite thing is the job uncertainty that comes along with this profession. Until the very senior positions like for example Professor, all positions are non-permanent. Usually when you start a new position you already have to plan the next steps.” – Daniel Münch.

“… my favourite thing is that moment when your data shows you something not known or seen before… my least favourite thing is that you always bring work home.” – Cristina Afonso.

“… my favourite thing is that I get to think about interesting problems and to see what other thinkers have managed to understand… I don’t know what my least favourite thing is…” – Gonzalo de Polavieja.

“… My favourite thing is the opportunity to think about the world in original ways… My least favourite thing is when it becomes difficult to clearly explain what you do to your family and friends.” – Albino Oliveira-Maia.

Albino Oliveira-Maia

Director of the Neuropsychiatry Unit. 
Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

“… my favourite thing is discovering the unknown, what nobody addressed until now. That feeling is priceless… my least favourite thing is that quite often our hypotheses are completely wrong and that even more often we don’t know how to proceed with our projects.” – Marko Šestan.

During the COVID-19 lockdown I’ve had to work from home and so I’ve been…

“… analysing the tons of data I had luckily produced earlier, writing manuscripts, planning future experiments, homeschooling my daughters and baking sourdough bread.” – Daniel Münch.

“… continuing to think about my science as before, taking a bit more time to think about new challenging problems and dedicating some time to help other scientists working in COVIDrelated research. I’ve also been spending half of my time helping my kids.” – Gonzalo de Polavieja.

Gonzalo de Polavieja 

Principal Investigator. 
Collective Behaviour Lab

“… learning what is essential for me, how I love working without psychological noise and how, if unchecked, I can very easily become obsessed with weird details (who knew that dust spots on windows would bother me so much 🙂 ).” – Cristina Afonso.

“… maintaining many on-site responsibilities as an active clinician, but the need for many in the team to work from home has been a great opportunity to rethink how group work can be organised at a distance.” – Albino Oliveira-Maia.

“… writing a project, analysing experiments, reading the latest research articles, watching scientific talks in zoom and planning future experiments.” – Cristina Godinho da Silva.

“… staying healthy, analysing a lot of data, thinking about problems, and learning new things every day.” – Dennis Goldschmidt.

Dennis Goldschmidt

PhD Student. 
Behaviour & Metabolism Lab


CCU Communication Team

Illustrations & Motion Graphics
Diogo Matias
Tiago Coelho

Editors
Catarina Ramos
Liad Hollender
Maria João Lourenço


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