Paulo Oliveira – Interfacing With the Public and With Industry as a Researcher

What does glitter have to do with mitochondria? This episode’s guest, Paulo Oliveira, might just have the answer for you. And it probably has something to do with science communication and science outreach. In this episode of Papa PhD, I’m bringing you a great conversation where we covered Paulo’s journey into academia, as well as his take on what a 21st century researcher should be and on what skills should be part of their arsenal in the current job market.

Paulo Oliveira

Paulo J. Oliveira is currently Principal Investigator at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra and an Invited Assistant Professor at the same University. Paulo is also the President of the European Society for Clinical Investigation, the co-founder of the start-up MitoTAG. He has a passion for mitochondrial biology in the context of aging and lifestyle diseases, and for science outreach. Part of his Doctoral and Post-doctoral training was done at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, USA, where he mixed mitochondrial research, playing football/soccer for a team called Port City and shoveling snow in the winter. His two daughters are great gymnasts, a trait that certainly they did not get from their father.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How people who present you with unexpected challenges in your journey can help you grow, if you let them
  • What you can learn from doing a stint abroad, during your graduate studies
  • The wonderful world of mitochondria, andtioxidants and redox balance
  • The decisions and steps around turning your science into a business
  • How finding a scientific niche that you’re passionate about can fuel your research, but also other aspects of your life as a researcher
  • What you can offer the public through science outreach and what science outreach can bring to you and your research
  • Strategies to try your hand at industry or entrepreneurship without cutting ties with academia

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“Communicating in terms of science is not publishing Science or Nature papers. It’s going to the population and saying “This is what we do. We are using some of your money, some of your taxes, to do science that eventually can improve your life”. ”

“I think one thing that’s failing in most schools, universities, doctoral programs, is this teaching of diverse soft skills.”

“If you’re doing research and if you think ‘ok… I’m not seeing myself doing this for the next 30 years – what am I going to do?’. You start something. You think about waht society needs, what people need, what institutions need, and you can propose that. Of course, there is this startup boom all over the place, but if yoou fail once, you try again. If you fail twice, you try again. ”

“You should not be afraid or ashamed of looking for advice.” 

“We live in a society where people think that failing will mark you for life, and we are all to blame on that. And we also have to blame that on our education system that teaches kids that they should not fail.”

“There are risks in everything. People have to find a place where they are more motivated, where they find the perfect ecosystem for them to work, and where they find the motivation to thrive into something. And sometimes, in academia you cannot find that.”

“What counts is that you have the expretise to do high quality work wherever you are […]. It doesn’t matter if we are top experts on protein X that does whatever.”  

Paulo’s links: MitoXT Group:; MitoTAG:; European Researcher’s Night

You might also like the following episodes:

Chris Kent – Biotech Startup CEO:

Sathy Rajasekharan– Science communication:

Fábio Rosa (PhD student), Gil Costa (scientific illustrator), Patrícia Monteiro (principal investigator):

Margaret Magdesian – Biotech Startup CEO:

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