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PhD student learns new image analysis techniques for Zika Virus in United States

Nathalia Esper went to University of Washington, Child Mind Institute and Nathan S. Kline Institute

07/08/2019 - 08h59

2019_08_07-zika_usa4The doctoral student in the School of Medicine’s graduate program, Nathalia Bianchini Esper, has just returned from a study abroad program in the United States. She has been working on the Zika Virus project at the Brain Institute of RS (BraIns) and got her pocket full of personal and professional experiences.

The activities developed in the research project Zika Virus, funded by FINEP, made it possible for her to begin the study abroad period. In the 31 days she spent in America, she worked with Dr Jeffrey Neil and Dr Alexandre Franco in two different moments. From Jun 25 to Jul 08, Esper was based at the School of Medicine of the University of Washington, in Saint Louis. She did her research in the group coordinated by Dr Neil, who served as a visiting professor at BraIns in March this year. His visit to PUCRS opened the doors for Ester to do a mobility program. “In Saint Louis I used techniques to process and analyze structural data from the Zika Virus project. They give us a sense of how the brain is doing”, Nathalia says.

2019_08_07-zika_usaFrom July 9 – 25, while in New York, Nathalia worked with engineer Alexandre Franco at the Child Mind Institute and at the Nathan S. Kline Institute. In both places, the researcher worked with the magnetic resonance data from the Zika Virus project. “In New York, I worked on functional data techniques that tell us about these children’s brain function. The goal was to learn about new analysis techniques”, the doctoral student explains.

Her work in three major centers in the United States contributed to her professional and personal growth. “I learned a lot about their methods of work and this is one of the experiences I’m bringing to BraIns: work and research methods. Things are quite different from what we’re used to doing. In addition, I’m using all the technical knowledge I gained there in our routine here in the imaging lab”, she describes.

Back at the Brain Institute of RS, Nathalia continues serving as a computer engineer for the Zika Virus project with a renewed spirit. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity. I was able to work with people I admire professionally for the quality of their investigations. It’s been a very rich exchange of experiences”, she concludes.