The “unusual” place for a developing scientist – between academia and industry

“Life was never easy, and like everyone else, I faced many challenges during my life. Perseverance is the motto that one should never forget in this field.” – Ricardo Neto

Mr. Ricardo Neto is driven by curiosity and structure. He tries to stick to and follow a path framed within his moral compass, as he describes it.

“Without structure around the urge to learn, we often end up developing new ideas, concepts, materials that will not be useful for the society in the future. Collaboration with industries and listening to their immediate problems lead to more focused solutions that generate an immediate impact in a given society,” Mr. Neto said.

His personal experience in research has been diverse and vibrant, and often he finds himself out of his comfort zone.

Ricardo Neto

Before conquering his fear of the unknown and move to Australia, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto in Portugal, followed by a Master’s degree in chemistry at the same institution. “My Master’s degree was also in chemistry, and my project was done in a Nanotechnology research center, where I worked as a researcher for a few years before enrolling as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Australia (UniSA).”

Moving to Australia in 2015, as part of the ASTech program Ph.D. scholarship, he is currently working on ‘The development of new methodologies that can enable analysis for several biomarkers from dried blood samples (DBS).’

His previous research work experience focused on translating research findings to match industries’ needs, “Being used to work in such an environment, I specifically searched for a Ph.D. program where I would be able to engage with the industrial side of research,” he added.

The ASTech program offered Mr. Neto what he once thought did not exist; he described the program as an “unusual” place.

“Partnering with industry is expected from the universities. These collaborations are often driven by personal goals of the academics and the industries. Here [ASTech], I found a culture where the project was shaped to solve an emerging problem. It is the solution to this problem that if effectively used, will change and benefit different communities, The ASTech program is an “unusual” place to be at because my work program kept this vision at its core,” Mr. Neto said.

Assuredly, he learned and developed many new skills to date. However, the ones that he considers most relevant are: “The experiences and the knowledge gathered by working in a multicultural environment. Indeed, interpersonal skills were the ones where I grew the most,” he said.

James Chan, Sara Thomas, Ricardo Neto, Neeraj Verma

Professionally, he is pleased to have been given the opportunity to attend the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) conferences in 2017 and 2018 where he was able to present his original work to an international audience. Mr. Neto presented his findings alongside one of ASTech’s flagship projects, the hemaPEN blood collection device, which he was an active participant, resulting in his first publication for his thesis.

He is also proud of his accomplishments, working on two patents, the first one developed back in Portugal, which is on the gradual release of different pharmaceuticals compression stockings, made from cotton or polyamide to prevent varicose veins. “Currently, the company which we worked with is selling a product based on this technology,” he added.

The second patent, as part of his work with ASTech, is on porous polymer monoliths usage as an alternative substrate for the collection of dried blood samples.

Mr. Neto doesn’t believe in one-person achievements as he thinks they are often the fruit of collaborative effort. “As such, my biggest achievement is to be able to engage and promote a work culture with most of my colleagues. Following this principle, achievements followed, such as patents and scientific communications.” Mr. Neto said.

Ricardo Neto would like to keep on contributing to technology development that can ultimately improve the quality of life. Also, would like to take on new challenges in places where he can feed his knowledge. “I want to pursue a career where I can accomplish this,” he added.

He advises all, who are on a similar journey “to do whatever makes them happier, without the fear of failing.”

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