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Student Highlights

Bárbara de Freitas Magalhães

Bárbara de Freitas Magalhães

Bárbara de Freitas Magalhães, PhD student in Biochemistry and Cell Biology

My name is Bárbara and I am from Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology in the BioSciences department. I came to Rice in the fall of 2014 with a 4-year Science without Borders scholarship from the Brazilian government. Prior to that, I did my undergraduate studies in Biology and obtained a Master’s degree in Genetics both from UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil).

Rice came as an option to me when I was researching great programs in the field of Synthetic Biology. My research goal is to genetically engineer bacterial cells to become biological machines that can be controlled and behave in a predictable way. The ultimate goal is to create genetic circuits that can be used as tools for a wide range of applications, such as bioremediation and therapeutics.

My experience at Rice has been very positive. Even before I arrived here, I felt welcomed. Everyone showed their concern for my well-being and made sure I was deciding on what would make me happy. And that was one of the reasons I chose Rice. To this day, I still feel cared for. Getting a PhD is not easy, but being at Rice definitely makes things better. Also, I feel that I’m exposed to so many opportunities I wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Rice is a top research institution and we get to meet and be inspired by a lot of great scientists.

Furthermore, I have been involved with the Brazilian Student Association (BRASA) at Rice for a few years now, and in the fall of 2018, I’ll start as the president of our club. We aim to create a strong community for Brazilians at Rice, showcase our culture to the Rice community and foster partnerships between Rice and universities in Brazil. I just love seeing our Brazilian family grow!

Alexandre Ferreira

Alexandre Ferreira

Alexandre Ferreira, PhD student in Finance

My name is Alexandre Ferreira and I am starting the third year of my PhD in Finance. I am currently interested in mergers and acquisitions, in particular what characteristics of acquiring companies make them engage in mergers, and what is the market’s reaction to those mergers.

Before coming to Rice I got a Master in Economics in Florianópolis, south of Brazil. That was when I first heard about Rice. I was considering options to do my PhD abroad and my advisor mentioned Rice as a school with a solid Finance program. I am glad I got that suggestion. The program is small, with two students admitted every year. So we almost have one professor to one student in the program. That makes it so that the professors keep a close eye on every student’s progress.

Compared to other universities in the U.S., Rice is a small school, and that helps make sure that every student feels heard and taken care of. The campus is full of trees and big lawns, and often when I need to think it is very pleasant to walk around campus trying to make sense of a result I got or a paper I read.

My history before coming to Rice starts in Aracaju, a coastal city in Brazil, where I was born. I moved a lot and lived in Goiania, Salvador, Campinas, São Paulo and Brussels, in Belgium. I got my undergrad in Computer Engineering at Unicamp, in Campinas, Brazil. I worked for some time before deciding to get a master’s degree. And now I’m at Rice, aiming to get a PhD and starting a career in academia.

Luiza Gomes Ferreira


Luiza Gomes Ferreira, PhD Student at Department of Chemistry

My name is Luiza Gomes, I was born in Brasilia (capital of Brazil) but I was raised on an island called Florianópolis. Florianópolis is the capital of Santa Catarina state and is located in the south region of Brazil. Florianópolis is well known for its natural exuberance, and there are 42 beaches and beautiful views.

I am currently a PhD student at Rice University in the Chemistry Department. Before coming to Rice, I studied at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, where I finished my master’s degree and undergraduate studies both in physics. My research consists of applying mechanical statistical models to understand protein movements inside the cells. I do that through computational and theoretical calculations.

I heard about Rice because of my advisor Professor Anatoly Klomeisky. During my master studies, I read some papers written by him and therefore got to know Rice University. I decided to come to Rice University because this is a great educational and research institution. Another reason that made me choose Rice University is that it is a genuinely concerned institution with the well care of its students. My goal coming to Rice was to become the best researcher that I could, but after I got here I realized that Rice had so much more to offer. Therefore, I got involved with as much different experience as I could, trying to utilize all the opportunities that Rice could offer. One of the opportunities was BRASA (Brazilian Students Association). BRASA was created in 2015 and by the end of the fall I was chosen as the president. Since then we have been spreading Brazilian culture to the Rice University community and supporting Brazilian students. We have done that by organizing gatherings and engaging in Rice’s activities that gave us those opportunities. Rice University is an amazing institution, and there is no better way to define my experience here than using their slogan “unconventional wisdom”.

Vinicius Gonçalves


Vinicius Gonçalves, PhD Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hello! My name is Vinicius Gonçalves but you can call me Vini. I’m a Brazilian PhD student at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rice University.

I was born and raised in Cruzeiro, state of São Paulo. It is a lovely small town between the two largest cities in Brazil, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. During my childhood in Cruzeiro I already knew my passion in life was mathematics and engineering. At school I was always involved in science projects, mathematics competitions and everything tech-related. This passion led me to choose electrical and computer engineering as my major during my undergraduate education. I earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Federal University of Itajubá.

My life at Rice started in 2013, during my undergraduate studies. As part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program I was awarded a scholarship to study in the United States for one year. The decision of where I’d go was made by the agency who sponsored me but I couldn’t have chosen a better place. Being a visiting student at Rice and living in the fourth largest city in the US was an amazing experience. During that year I also started preparing myself to apply for graduate school.

In 2015, during my last year of college, I worked really hard to put a competitive application together. Back on the day I was working with General Motors in Brazil, which motivated me even more to pursue a career in the US. I was finally invited to visit Rice as a prospective student in February, 2016. When I arrived here, more than two years after I left, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. It felt like I was at home again. Shortly after that visit I received the offer letter from Rice and today here I am, living the life I always dreamed of. I’m now looking forward to the next couple years to come and all the amazing experiences they will bring.

Vinicius also created a video when he was a visiting student here at Rice.

 Marco Túlio Fonseca Rodrigues

Marco Túlio Fonseca Rodrigues, Ph.D. Student in Materials Science and NanoEngineering

My name is Marco Rodrigues and I am originally from Divinopolis, a city in the heart of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

I am a 4th year Ph.D. student in Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice, and my core research interest is to create energy storage devices that can work at both very low and very high temperatures, with potential impacts on biomedical electronics, oil extraction and space exploration. Although I am originally a chemist, materials science is essentially the study of matter at a different scale, and I had a smooth transition to this new field.

My story at Rice began in 2012. Back then, I was pursuing my Masters in Physical Chemistry at UFMG (Brazil), and a collaboration between my advisor and a Rice professor granted me the opportunity – and funding – to come here as a visiting student for 9 months. It was most definitely a turning point in my life. I really enjoyed the multidisciplinary and multicultural environment I found in here, the friendliness and the ambition, everything so densely confined to the small, lovely campus. This short experience had a great impact on me, and expanded what I could truly relate to as being my world.

I then chose to return, and was fortunate enough to have Rice receiving me back. It has been a thrilling journey and a great pleasure to be part of this distinct community.



Rodrigo Shiozaki, Visiting Research Student from USP in Physics & Astronomy

Rodrigo Shiozaki

“Once one arrives at Rice University, it doesn’t take long to realize why that’s one of the best universities in the world. The general infrastructure (buildings, outdoors, labs, transport, services, etc.) is amazing, especially the support to international students and scholars. The staff is very nice and helpful, and the students are incredibly dedicated. Many cultural events take place not only on campus but also in the museums around (note that we are in the Museum District). Therefore Rice is definitely an ideal place to study, do good research, and have a great time! It’s surprising that there are not many Brazilians here, so I hope this review will help make Rice a little more ‘green & yellow’.”


Meiriane Cristina Faria Soares – Visiting Research Student from Federal University of Minas Gerias (UFMG) in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Meiriane Cristina Faria Soares

“My experience at Rice University was wonderful. Everyone helped me so much and they were always very friendly. I felt as if they were always concerned with my well-being. The OISS events allowed me to see Houston and meet people better. Dr. Wong, my advisor at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department made me feel part of his group. He taught me so much, offered me all that I needed for my research and provided me with good examples. He is dedicated to doing responsible and quality research. I learned a lot of things during my time here. Rice is an outstanding university and offers a great infrastructure for the students. I’m very grateful to Rice for having received me so well!”





If you would like to share your experience, please contact Brasil@Rice.