Today was my second day of work in a Chemical Engineering laboratory in UNICAMP, the State University of Campinas, Brazil!
On Monday, my first day, I toured the various laboratories run by Professor Telma Franco, to find out more about the specific work she leads in each lab. I have agreed to work in the laboratory that studies microalgae for production of biodiesel, better known as the “Petrobras” lab. Petrobras, the largest petroleum producing companies in Brazil and all of South America, has hired this specific lab to work with some of the microalgae strands it is researching. There is also a “Shell” laboratory, which is studying yeast modification for biofuel production through “Shell” funding. It seems to be common for these large petroleum corporations to fund labs in large research universities, which helps to maintain a dynamic relationship between the industry and the education system, here in Brazil at least.
Today I started in on mymore official lab work. I was given a lab coat, a large textbook on Microbiology to study up on, and a detailed tour of the equipment and research present in the lab. Throughout the day I assisted two female scientists as they progressed with the microalgae research. They were very eager to let me try the different preparation techniques, mix mediums, and use the equipment after brief demonstrations. For today, I have learned a lot about microalgae, understood more about what life in a lab could be like, and that doesn’t even cover how fried my brain is from a constant flow of Portuguese!! This Summer continues to present me with steep learning curves, and I am so excited to see how the rest of my time here pans out. Stay tuned!