On this day, 8 March 2023, as we celebrate the International Women’s Day, let’s focus on a womand scientist profile
At age 35, Elisama Vieira is already an award-winning scientist: in 2016, she was recognized with the L’Oréal-Unesco-ABC For Women in Science award; in 2020, she was awarded the Environmental Electrochemistry Award by the International Society for Electrochemistry.
During her childhood, lived in the small municipality of Japi, in Rio Grande do Norte, Elisama had fun with her younger sister, playing at being a teacher, that is, already practicing her vocation. The eldest of three siblings, the best example to follow in her academic career was at home, given that her parents were public school teachers: her mother studied Portuguese, her father taught mathematics. “I remember very well the presence of our parents accompanying us in our studies. They dedicated their time to us.”
Elisama started her journey in chemistry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, (UFRN) in 2005, a period marked by special people, who encouraged her in every achievement. In the fifth period, she entered scientific initiation in the laboratory of professor Nedja Suely Fernandes, where the student had her first contact with research and acquired the firm conviction that she would work with science.
Removing contaminants in water and soil
After graduation, in 2009, Elisama Vieira started her master’s degree, also at UFRN and under the guidance of Professor Nedja. This time, she developed research in the field of electrochemistry and metal detection. “I was fascinated by the possibility of proposing environmental problems and solving them using chemistry knowledge”, recalls Vieira. Two years later, the scientist started her doctorate and attended part of it at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, in Spain. During this period, she worked with the area in which she continues today: electrochemical processes for removing contaminants in water and soil.
Passionate about her area of expertise, Vieira says she is enchanted by the way electrochemistry transits through chemistry, biology, physics, engineering and other areas. For her, one of the high points of science is its applicability to solve problems in our society and propose mechanisms or technologies with a focus on sustainability. Professor at the UFRN School of Science and Technology since 2016, her research group has been continuing Vieira’s doctoral theme, investigating the development and application of electrochemical processes for the treatment of water and contaminated soils, through the combination of fundamental and applied research. .
Another area of interest for the Academic is the production of oxidants and recovery of residues for the production of organic compounds with high added value. Such compounds have an application in different industrial segments. The generation of clean energy has also been one of the areas of application, highlighting the production of green hydrogen from contaminated effluents, using electrolytic processes for its production.
In defence of Brazilian science
About the affiliation with ABC, Vieira says she is excited and honored. “I consider this a great responsibility and an injection of courage to move forward and continue contributing to the development of research and training of human resources in Brazil”, she defines. For the next four years that she will remain at the Academy, the researcher intends to contribute to the defense of Brazilian science through dialogue with society and seeking to encourage the participation of women in the areas of exact sciences and engineering.
When she’s not looking for new discoveries, Elisama Vieira takes advantage of her free time to enjoy her family and follow the development of her daughter, Milena. She also enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures. When this is not possible live, she dives into books and films to transport herself to other realities.