14 October 2022

Twenty years of excellence in materials research on a global scale

Twenty years of excellence in materials research on a global scale

“If you keep up the good work, the country and Europe will certainly improve!". With this sentence, the Rector of the University of Aveiro (UAveiro) closed his talk in the closing session of the conference that marked the end of the celebrations of the 20 years of CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials. The program included scientific papers, debates, and awards for posters to the best young researchers, among other distinctions related to activities in the commemoration cycle.

The final conference of the cycle of events that marked 20 years of CICECO brought together more than 300 participants at the Aveiro Cultural and Congress Center. This event, entitled "Hand in hand with society", was attended by 12 guest speakers - from academics to representatives of companies and scientific institutions, both domestic and foreign - and brought together a total of 187 posters presenting the results of scientific work.

With the mission, now rewritten, of "creating and disseminating scientific and technological knowledge to develop, process, and apply materials that anticipate and respond to the challenges of global society," CICECO is made up of a body of knowledge of nearly 450 members. This number includes academics, doctoral researchers, doctoral students, laboratory and administrative technicians. Since 2002, when it received the status of an associated laboratory, the number of doctoral students at CICECO has shown an increasing trend.

According to the report of the activity made by the director of this associated laboratory, João Coutinho, the average annual number of articles published in indexed journals (SCI) is around 496 since 2013, reaching 584 articles in 2021, and totaling 15 in journals of the groups Science and Nature. In the last five years, the associated laboratory has totaled 56 million euros in research projects.

UAveiro's materials science area, overwhelmingly worked on by CICECO members, appears in the first national position in the most recent edition of three rankings: QS World University Rankings, and Shanghai Ranking. Twenty-one members of this unit, João Coutinho also pointed out, are among the top two percent worldwide for the impact of their work throughout their careers, according to an analysis by the Stanford & Elsevier ranking. It is also worth mentioning, as it is suggestive of the quality of the research produced, that over the last five years, among other important support, this unit has been awarded 10 grants by the European Research Council (ERC): two advanced grants, two consolidation grants, two introductory grants, and four proof-of-concept grants.

Science communication and knowledge valorization

After the scientific presentations, during the morning, the afternoon program included two debates: one on science communication, moderated by Paulo Ribeiro Claro, professor at the Department of Chemistry and researcher at CICECO, and another on strategies for product development, moderated by Francisco Mendes, from Make It Product R&D and founder of BeeVeryCreative.

In the first case, the participants included: Joana Paredes, president of ASPIC; Manuel Valença, vice-director SciComPt; Pedro Almeida, professor at the Department of Communication and Art of UAveiro; and Álvaro Pinto, executive director of the Lousal Centro Ciência Viva. Before the debate, the winning work of the workshop dedicated to science communication was presented - the workshop took place in April - and involved researchers in the production of content for publication on different platforms and targeting different audiences.

In the second debate, the guests included: Júlio Grilo, Director of Research and Innovation at Simoldes Plásticos; Jorge Girão, Operations Manager at Revigrés; João Veloso, Vice-Rector for Cooperation with Society of UAveiro; and Nuno Silva, member of the R&D team at HOVIONE.

Previously, the winning work of the CICECO Hackathon, an innovation and knowledge enhancement event that took place in September, was presented. The winning proposal was Combocoat, presented by Isabel Sousa, Paula Barbosa, Cristina Neves, and Márcia Silva.


Three young researchers awarded

During the session, three Young Researcher prizes were awarded: to Mirtha Lourenço, from the group "Nanomateriais inorgânicos funcionalizados e híbridos orgânicos-inorgânicos (Functionalized inorganic nanomaterials and organic-inorganic hybrids)", to Ana Francisca Silvafrom the group "Materiais biomédicos e biomiméticos (Biomedical and biomimetic materials)", and to Filipe Sosa, a member of the group "Biorrefinarias, reciclagem e materiais de origem biológica (Biorefineries, recycling and materials of biological origin)".

Among the nearly 190 posters presented at the conference, three were awarded prizes:

  • "Red mud-based alkali-activated foams for acid mine drainage treatment," by João Carvalheira, Rui Novais, and João A. Labrincha;

  • "Strategy for electromechanical functionalization of poly l-lactic acid polymer surface for bioactive coating," by Maxim Ivanov, Julio R. H. Rocha, Noelle Zanini, and Paula M. Vilarinho;

  • "Adhesive pullulan-based films comprising deep eutectic-curcumin formulations to overcome antimicrobial multi-resistance" by Sónia N. Pedro, Bruno F. A. Valente, Carla Vilela, Helena Oliveira, Adelaide A. Almeida, Mara Freire, Armando J. D. Silvestre and Carmen S. R. Freire.

Six other posters earned Honorable Mentions.

Other ways to share

From the works produced in the photography contest, two photographic works were awarded, one for each contest category - photos related to day-to-day research at CICECO and photos of Aveiro: "Inclusive workplace benefits everyone", by Diogo Marinheiro, and "Through the looking glass", by Inês Cardoso. The gallery of competing works can be viewed at

As for the video competition "minFilm competition", Mariana Vallejo and Hélder Batista's work, "Say yes to the circular economy". The gallery of competing videos is available

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