From intern to biobased professional

Because of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil Guilherme was able to do his internship in the Netherlands at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy. Now he ended up working as a professional researcher in the Biobased economy. What are his experiences? We asked him! 


What is your background before coming to the Netherlands? How did you end up here?

I was a student of Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Viçosa, in Brazil, from 2012 until 2018. In 2018 I did my final internship here at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy, at Avans, and after I was finished, I went back to Brazil to graduate. However, I really wanted to continue being part of the project I was working here. Luckily for me, at that point, there was a Junior Researcher position available that would allow me to do that. So I did my best to get it, and here I am!


What is your research about?

The research is part of the WOW! Project, from Interreg. We are working with the production of a bioplastic called PHA from the residue streams of sewage treatment systems. Our focus at the research group here is the optimization of the plastic extraction process. But of course, as a Junior Researcher, I also have the opportunity to support other projects from our research group, such as the Sustainable Solid Biofuels project.


What was the role of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil (LLBB) in all that?

The LLBB was the platform that made it possible for me to do my internship here in Netherlands in the first place. It was because of the partnership between my home university and Avans, established by the LLBB, that I was accepted as an intern in the WOW! Project. After I became a Junior Researcher here, it was then my turn to help keeping these partnerships strong, so more students could have the opportunity to get involved with the ideas surrounding a Biobased economy.


What do you like the most about the Netherlands?

 I really love how safe I can feel all the time and how easy it is to go anywhere – either with a bike or a train. The organization here as a country is definitely amazing. Also, although it is not always easy to deal with the cultural differences, I have been learning a lot with such a different mindset.


What is the difference between the educational system in the Netherlands and in Brazil?

The educational systems from the Netherlands and Brazil are very different in many ways, but for me the most interesting part is the existence of the Hogescholen in the Netherlands. In Brazil, higher education is usually linked to studies in academic universities, which are, most of the time, much more theoretical and quite disconnected from companies. The concept of educating young professionals in such a practical environment related to all sorts of organizations is amazing.


What are your future plans?

I want to continue creating a path for myself as a researcher, working with the development of new bioproducts and the setting up of biorefineries. Of course that these studies are coupled to becoming more and more involved in the transition into a circular economy, a concept that I hope I can help spreading around the world.

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