Hi there! I'm Fernanda, a Brazilian PhD student in Computational Neuroscience, at the University of Queensland (Australia), with Dr. Alexander M. Puckett and Professor Ross Cunnington. I'm studying applications of geometric deep learning for neuroscience.
My background is mostly on biophysics. I have a Bachelor degree in Physical and Biomolecular Sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. During my time there, I was a research student in a medicinal chemistry lab (NEQUIMED, at the Chemistry Institute of Sao Carlos) for a very long time under the supervision of Prof Andrei Leitao. Among many things, I've learned how to test new molecules with anticancer and antiparasitic potential in vitro.
Halfway through my undergrad, I got a scholarship from the Brazilian government Science without Borders (thanks, Dilma!) to study at the University of Nottingham, UK. England is nice, but the weather isn't my favourite... There, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Maria Arruda (a great example of a female scientist to me!) at the Cell Signalling Research Group. Apart from a great deal of English (to be honest, I only started studying English for real a year before that, just because I really wanted to go to England), I've learned to perform competitive binding assays and tube formation assays.
With all this experience in research, one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to keep doing it with another focus... I wanted to study the brain. So, I've started my studies for a Master's degree in Neuroscience and Cognition at Federal University of ABC (I know it sounds silly, but it is because all campuses are (or will be) in three cities: Santo Andre, Sao Bernardo, and Sao Caetano). My supervisors (Prof Claudinei Biazoli and Dr Walter Pinaya) taught me a great deal about fMRI, functional connectivity, fingerprinting... and during that time I worked on expanding the research on functional connectome-based identification analysis to the identification of twins using the HCP dataset. This work is still in progress with the help of a great friend (from the time of my undergrad), that is carrying out a multivariate analysis to estimate the heritability of functional networks.
The will to live abroad again (in a country known to have good weather this time!) brought me and my beloved partner to Brisbane, Australia. Here, I've started learning about high-res fMRI research and geometric deep learning (a set of deep learning tools that allows learning in non-Euclidean spaces). In my first PhD project, we aimed to develop a neural network able to predict how the visual field (what we see) is mapped in the visual cortex (part of the brain that receives and process visual information), by only using structural (the shape of the visual cortex) and other anatomical information as the input of our model. If you are curious about that, check this out.
Life is not all about research, right?! In my free time, I love practising yoga. I've started practising Ashtanga yoga in 2016, months after an accident that resulted in a fracture in my left knee. Yoga made and still makes all the difference to my mental and physical healing process! I also love learning new things (obviously!), like how to swim (maybe in a couple of months I will be learning how to surf...). Now, I'm working on restoring my reading habits and so far so good. Travelling is another great part of my life and, mostly thanks to my academic work/studies, I've been to 10 different countries so far.
I think that's about it for now. I hope to see you around!