Researcher Maria Carolina Gonzalez, from the Santos Dumont Institute (ISD), in Macaíba (RN), was one of the 10 selected throughout Brazil for the 5th public call for science support promoted by the Serrapilheira Institute. Carolina, who studies the processes involved in the formation of memories, will be funded by the Serrapilheira Institute to investigate how previous experiences influence the formation of new memories.
She competed with 260 other researchers from all over Brazil, who sent proposals from different areas of knowledge to the public call. There were two selection phases, the first consisting in the presentation of a pre-project, and the second, for which 43 candidates were selected, that included the evaluation of the complete project and interviewing international evaluators.
The research, expected to last three years, should take a step further in the studies that have already been developed by Carolina Gonzalez involving the expression and formation of memories. “Much of what we know about how memories are stored is based on studies in which the researcher focuses on a particular situation. Our idea is to consider the animal’s previous history, what it learned before and how this influences the formation of new memories and how they are integrated with previous knowledge”, explains the scientist.
This process is much more similar to what happens in the reality of the formation of memories, which do not happen in the form of isolated events in our brain. “We learn new information and this information is related or associated with things we already know. Memories are not formed in isolation, but in a temporal, spatial, emotional context… “, says Gonzalez.
The resources from the Serrapilheira Institute will finance all the research, from the necessary inputs for the experiments, which will be carried out in the animal model, to the payment of scholarships and scientific publications. “It is a very important aid that will allow the research to be in fact carried out. The funding is also focused on promoting diversity, supporting the integration of researchers from underrepresented groups”, adds Carolina Gonzalez.
Meet Carolina Gonzalez
Born in Argentina, Carolina Gonzalez arrived in Brazil in 2014 through the Science Without Borders program, and began to develop research at the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and, later, at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neurosciences (IIN-ELS), one of the ISD units in Macaíba, where she works as a research professor. In 2021, she won the Early Career Award, an award dedicated to outstanding young researchers granted by the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO).
“It is very important that there are public notices that consider the development of science at the federal level, and not just focus on large centers. I, for example, left Argentina and arrived in Natal [capital of the State of Rio Grande do Norte] through Science Without Borders program, which had this perspective, and here I developed research, established myself, and started to work. This is the case of many other scientists, who are carrying out important research in all regions of Brazil”, she highlights.
The Serrapilheira Institute is the first private, non-profit institution to promote science in Brazil. It was created to value scientific knowledge and increase its visibility, and works on two fronts: Science and Scientific Dissemination. The Institute supports projects in the areas of natural sciences, computer science, mathematics and science communication.
Text: Mariana Ceci / Ascom – ISD
Picture: Mariana Ceci / Ascom – ISD