Susana Loureiro

1.    What are your personal perspectives as a researcher?

My personal perspectives are aligned with the challenges that daily appear in the environment, challenges that deal with innovation and human activities which are very dissimilar like nanotechnology, agriculture or aquaculture, but that indeed present similar challenges to ecosystems functioning. Emissions that have several and distinct sources generate exposures that can harm the environment and humans. Therefore, my perspectives follow these trends of emission, understanding exposure and fate of chemicals, in order to understand effects at the organismal level, but also at the population and community levels in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

This daily curiosity comes since I was a child in my parent’s garden, looking at pillbugs dead dried and asking myself why. Why did they die and why did they get completely dry? Surprisingly, I came out to answer this question in 2010, by defying my first PhD student to look at molluscicides inducing effects in pillbugs!

In the last years, within my research team, we have devoted our time not only towards soil and aquatic organisms but also to humans, assessing how environmental exposure through daily habits, may induce negative effects in people.

So, my perspectives as researcher are not static, but are rather dynamic, straightly related to challenges that need to be tackled, which are mainly triggered by human activities, and that affect the equilibrium of natural resources. This defies my actions and (e)motions towards new research plans!

2.    In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in your area of research?

My background is on biology, and I moved towards ecotoxicology in my master and doctoral degrees. Ecotoxicology is an independent science since the end of the 70’s, which integrates knowledge from ecology, toxicology, and chemistry. Therefore, as a starting point it is already a multidisciplinary science which nowadays have gained even more interdisciplinarity, from e.g. physics or nanotechnology. Therefore, tackling several disciplines is challenging and answers are often provided when we go deep into the foundations of a certain science or discipline. The further we want to move forward the deepest we have to go into fundamental science. This approach is hardworking but provides the insight to unravel issues, which will sustain applied science and research. This may be a scientific challenge but additionally it can be a funding challenge, as nowadays research calls are looking forward to applied science, forgetting the crucial role of fundamental science.

In addition, working closely to innovation areas like nanotechnology, which act as socio-economic drivers, and assessing its hazard and risks is challenging because a balance between negative and positive effects have to be weighted accurately.

Another challenge from my research area, dealing with environmental issues that can affect negatively the environment and people, is to disseminate our research for the general public in an appropriate way, as a crucial target regarding environmental sustainability.

3.    Where are the strengths of the UA in your opinion?

In my opinion the major strength of the UA is the people. Motivated people. In general we can see at the campus several motivated people from different research areas, with an open mind, and always willing to learn more from other areas in order to complement their work. From this, multidisciplinary collaborations are born and the most interesting research outputs are published and highly cited. This comes along with the fact that organic units co-exist closely at the campus, promoting also this collaboration. In the last years, the creation of new facilities and the new equipment acquired also fully helped on increasing the strength of the UA.

4.    Could you give one idea to improve research in the UA?

Good laboratory facilities along with appropriate offices for PhD researchers and students are essential to run a balanced research team. This requires space that sometimes does not exist or a best use of already existing spaces.

Therefore, my idea to improve research at UA is to make the best use of already existing resources, both human and physical. Implementing new spaces for scientific discussion and laboratories and organizing in a more effective way financial and secretary staff to complement and simplify researcher’s paper work, is crucial to improve overall research and functionalities in the UA. In my opinion, an organized foundation staff can provide essential help for researchers and professors, leaving more time to research and teaching.

Dr. Susana Loureiro

Applied Ecology and Ecotoxicology Research Group - applEE
Departamento de Biologia & CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro

última atualização a 30-06-2017

Susana Loureiro

Susana Loureiro started her undergraduate studies at the University of Coimbra, in Biology, following an MSc in Ecology at the same university. In 2000 she started a PhD in Biology at the University of Aveiro. Her PhD focused on the hazard assessment of soils from a mine in the northeast of Portugal, Jales Mine.

In 2005, she was hired as Assistant Researcher at the University of Aveiro, at CESAM-Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies & Department of Biology. She started working on mixture toxicity assessment in the NoMiracle FP6 project, where she has developed expertise on mixtures experimental design and modelling, along with combined effects of chemicals and natural stressors, using different organisms’ species and endpoints. Within this expertise she applied for several FCT national projects and she was the coordinator of AGROMIX, on the mixture toxicity assessment of chemicals in soils, CLIMAFUN, where pesticides and metals were combined with extreme soil conditions exposures (e.g. temperature, soil moisture). The 3rd national project she coordinated was FUTRICA on the flux of chemicals within aquatic trophic chains. RePulse was the 4th national funding project she coordinated, looking at multiple generational exposures of chemicals in aquatic crustaceans (Daphnia magna).

In 2010 she was for the first time the UAVR PI in an international project, PORTONOVO, an Interrreg project, where she was the responsible for the case study of the Aveiro Harbour and the development of methodologies to improve the Water Framework Directive for modified waters.

Also in 2010, she started her involvement in a new research area on nanoecotoxicology, being the UAVR PI for the FP7 NanoFASE project and the WP leader for ecotoxicology. This nanoecotoxicological challenge continued with the Horizon2020 NanoFASE project that started in 2015, where she is the WP9 deputy, on bioavailability, and responsible for the mesocosms exposures. In 2016, she started as UAVR PI the ERANET SIINN NanoFARM project, looking at effects of nano agro-chemicals in soil organisms within a long-term approach and also looking at their transfer in soil trophic chains. In another project that started in 2016, the mixture toxicity approach was again part of her role in the Water JPI project We-Need, on groundwater contamination.

Within these projects and other parallel research activities, she has published >110 papers and graduated 11 PhD students and 24 MSc students. She is one of the members of the Science for Environment Policy Advisory Group, where she reviews studies proposed to be in the News Alert. She is the University of Aveiro representative of the National Technical Commission for Nanotechnologies CT 194.

On the 1st of july she is starting a new position as Assistant Professor at the University of Aveiro, Department of Biology.

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