Pedro Ferreira, PhD

Neuroscientist,
Public Engagement practitioner
and Humanities scholar in training

 

 

 

 

A tiny bit about my brain

I'm a neuroscientist, public engagement practitioner and budding Humanities scholar, currently Education and Public Engagement Manager at the Biochemical Society.
I was brought up by loving parents who didn’t mind setting up a small laboratory for their six-year-old proto-scientist who thought chemistry sets and books were way cooler than footballs and G.I. Joes. This early predisposition for the bench drove me to study genetics, while my puzzlement for human behaviour naturally led to a PhD in neuroscience, my amazement at the Universe to read on physics and my sense of awe at the very fact of being human to compulsively gulp down the best literature has to offer. Every bit of this made me an all round scientific and humanistic chatterbox, who loves to communicate the beauty of science.

In 2015 I won the Hall of Famelab science communication competition at London’s Natural History Museum, and in 2018 co-authored my first popular science book, cementing my love for researching and communicating science in an engaging and enthusiastic manner. To my doctorate in neuroscience and postdoctoral work in stem cell genetics, I have added a Wellcome Trust-funded MSc in Science Media Production at Imperial College London (with a focus on the interaction between science and society), experience encompassing a wide engagement and communications portfolio in research institutes and cultural and educational organisations (from a Horizon 2020 international consortium to the British Council and CERN), as well as teaching and engaging a variety of publics across ages and educational needs with the best and most fascinating science, from particle physics and engineering to molecular biology. I am currently researching a second, part-time PhD on the history of evolutionary thought in psychiatry and its relation to public perceptions of the brain and mental health at Birkbeck, University of London.

Experience

Education and Public Engagement Manager

Biochemical Society (London, UK)

January 2019 — Present

Working as part of the Biochemical Society’s Education, Training and Policy team, I lead and project manage our popular programme of education and public engagement events, activities and resources for students, teachers, scientists and the general public, bringing the molecular biosciences to people of all ages. These include developing, running and evaluating our bespoke public engagement activities in science festivals and other educational contexts (including a new activity on synthetic biology aimed at 5-14 year-olds), leading a new Art&Science interdisciplinary programme bringing arts practitioners and molecular bioscientists together, managing our long-running scientific outreach grants and science communication competition, as well as co-creating an upcoming innovative online course on public engagement with Queen Mary University of London.

Wellcome Science Media Graduate in Public Engagement and Science Education

The Francis Crick Institute (London, UK)

October 2018 — December 2018


I shared my time between the Exhibitions and Science Education teams, researching the upcoming 2020 Francis Crick exhibition on cancer, developing tools and content connecting the upcoming 2019 exhibition on supporting roles in science with the team’s school work, and collaborated in delivering the grade 5 to grade 13 school programmes, on topics from genetic engineering to chemistry and electronics, supported by a Science Media studentship from the WellcomeTrust.

Web Editor

Imperial College London (London, UK)

October 2017 — September 2018
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Editor of the online version of I, Science: the science magazine of Imperial College London: isciencemag.co.uk.

Cooperation Associate in Audiovisual Science Communication

CERN (Geneva, Switzerland)
April 2018 — May 2018

I created the concept for, and scripted, a novel video series on the impact of CERN particle physics research across its many social spheres (from basic research, to education and the promotion of peace).

 

Research Communications Officer and Social Media Developer

UMCure2020 (Lisbon, Portugal)
July 2017 — March 2018

Research Communication Officer and Web & Social Media Developer for the Horizon 2020-funded UMCure 2020 project (found at umcure2020.org). Based on my scientific background in both neuroscience and cancer biology, I researched and developed content on Uveal Melanoma (UM) biology and treatment — from digesting relevant scientific papers for lay audiences, to liaising with internal and external stakeholders on topics with importance for the UM patient and healthcare community — and managed the UMCure 2020 social media platforms.

 

Public Engagement Researcher and Consultant

British Council (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
November 2016 — January 2017

Scientific Consultant for the British Council, researching the future and sustainability of Famelab as a public engagement venture in Europe, under Bianka Stege, the British Council European Director for Education and Society.

 

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Stem Cell Genetics

University College London (London, UK)
April 2016 — November 2016

I performed independent research in stem cell genetics and genome architecture in neuronal differentiation at the UCL Cancer Institute.

 

Education

MPhil/PhD in History

Birkbeck, University of London (London, UK)

October 2019 — Present

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Researching a thesis on the history of evolutionary thought in psychiatry post-1930s, focusing on the development of Attachment Theory and Evolutionary Psychiatry, and its relation to public perceptions of the brain and mental health.

MSc in Science Media Production

Imperial College London (London, UK)

October 2017 — September 2018

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Curriculum and practical work including science communication and public engagement, public perceptions of science, philosophy of science, narratology and storytelling, film studies, broadcast media, and science documentary/video and radio/podcast production. This program of studies was supported by a studentship from the Wellcome Trust. Degree classification: First Class (Distinction).

PhD in Neuroscience

Champalimaud Foundation / Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal)

November 2008 — February 2016

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Thesis title: Behavioural and Transcriptional Plasticity in Striatal Circuits: From Optogenetics to Epigenetics. Degree classification: Approved by Unanimity (Maximum Distinction). Published two first-author peer-reviewed publications (listed below).

Licenciatura in Biology (Diploma: 5-year degree)

Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias (Lisbon, Portugal)

September 2001 — July 2007

Areas of concentration: Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Undergraduate thesis in Virology and Immunology performed at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in Oeiras, Portugal, with the title “Viral modulation of interferon host immune responses”, granted 19/20 (95%). Degree classification: 16/20 (80%).

 


Complementary training:

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  • 1st Foundation Course in Psychoanalysis, Portuguese Society for Psychoanalysis, Lisboa, Portugal (2014-2015)
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  • Creative Writing Workshop, supervised by Rui Zink, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2013

Selected research papers

Ana M Vicente*, Pedro Galvão-Ferreira*, Fatuel Tecuapetla and Rui M Costa (2016)
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

Direct and indirect dorsolateral striatum pathways reinforce different action strategies.

Current Biology, 4;26(7):R267-9.
You can find the paper here.

Pedro Galvão-Ferreira, Michał Lipinski, Fernando Santos, Angel Barco and Rui M Costa (2017)

Skill learning modulates RNA Pol II poising at immediate early genes in the adult striatum.


You can find the paper here.

Documentary Studies

Pedro Galvão-Ferreira. Saint Marina, Bodhisattva: The arts documentary as hagiography in Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present. (In preparation)

Science Communication and Science Media Studies

Pedro Galvão-Ferreira. The intertextual angels of our Bayesian nature: A relational and structural analysis of the radio play. (In preparation)

Pedro Galvão-Ferreira. Citizen Science: Opportunities and problems in neuroscience. (In preparation)

Public Engagement and Science Communication

Audiovisual Assistant in Sensory Inclusive Science Outreach

Science Museum (London, UK)

June 2018

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Audiovisual Assistant in the VIscovery programme, a set of days that enable families with members who are visually impaired, partially sighted or blind to enjoy events around the Museum that are specially designed for them, including an audio-described show, object handling and immersive storytelling.

Hall of Famelab – 2015 Winner

Natural History Museum / British Council (London, UK)

September 2015

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Event part of Science Uncovered and the EU Researchers’ Night 2015. FameLab is a communications competition designed to engage and entertain by breaking down science, technology and engineering concepts into three minute presentations. Talk, “Darwin on Dating”, available here: https://bit.ly/2OxO5rD. 

Brain Awareness Week Organiser and Lecturer

Champalimaud Foundation (Lisbon, Portugal)

2011 — 2015

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Institutional manager and organiser of the Brain Awareness Week for the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme (CNP), coordinating all school visits to the CNP labs, as well as scientist’s lectures at host schools, myself lecturing with the talk: “From neurons to circuits to brains: An odyssey with lasers and other improbable things”.

Arts and Science Advisor

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon, Portugal)

February 2014 — June 2014

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Scientific advisor at Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, supporting the development of scientific content for guided tours to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian under Descobrir – Programa Gulbenkian Educação para a Cultura e Ciência (“Discover – Gulbenkian Educational Program for Culture and Science”). Project title: “If Stendhal was a neuroscientist: the experience and neurobiology of portrait gazing”.

Teaching

Invited Lecturer in Science and Society

Imperial College London (London, UK)
October 2018
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Invited Lecturer within the Horizons programme for science undergraduate students at Imperial College London, delivering a class on the social construction of science and contemporary models of science and society studies.

Teacher Instructor in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience

Salesianos de Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal)

May 2015

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Teacher instructor at Salesianos de Lisboa (a private secondary school in Lisbon, Portugal), delivering a programme tailored to cover basic neurobiology and contemporary biomedical research.

Informal Science Education Supervisor and Lecturer

Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme / Ciência Viva National Science Agency (Lisbon, Portugal)

2013 — 2014

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Group Supervisor and Lecturer in “Sciencecalifragilistic: A journey through the Scientific Method,” a science outreach and informal education programme for secondary school / A-level students of the Lisbon area, with co-coordination of one of three individual research groups under which Sciencecalifragilistic students developed their research projects. More information can be found here: https://bit.ly/2wDIlV4.

Invited Lecturer in Neuroscience

Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal)

May 2012 — June 2012

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Invited Lecturer within the MA program in Literary Theory for the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (the School of Humanities of the University of Lisbon) delivering a module on the intersections between Neuroscience and the Biological Basis of Behaviour, Literary Theory and Memory.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books

“Cem Mitos Sem Lógica” (One Hundred Senseless Myths) — A book on popular myths and misconceptions

(Published in Portuguese in March 2018)

I have recently co-authored a book, called Cem Mitos Sem Lógica (One Hundred Senseless Myths) on popular scientific and historical myths and misconceptions (from our everyday use of more than 10% of our brain, to Einstein’s true mathematical prowess), extending my passion for dispelling superstition and pseudoscience into the longer page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other activities, other loves

Creator and writer of the literary blog Edge of the Alphabet
Baking and general cake invention
Learning the cello as an over-curious adult

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