When the first group of students from Brazil came to UWA through the Science Without Borders scholarship program in 2012, Marina Schnaider Bortolotto was one of them.The program, funded by the Brazilian government agency CNPq, the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development, sent more than 100,000 students overseas in four years in the areas of science, engineering and technology.
A civil engineering student, Marina first met UWA Professor J. Antonio H. Carraro at an afternoon tea organized by the International Office.
Carraro, who is also originally from Brazil and a former CNPq scholar himself, then invited her to work on a new research project at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS).
“Marina was my first CNPq Science Without Borders student here at UWA,” Professor Carraro said. “She worked on a new research project that was just starting at the COFS Geotechnical Testing Laboratory at the time she joined our research group, which focused on improving the fundamental understanding of factors that affect the dynamic properties of an offshore calcareous sand from Western Australia.”
“Offshore sediments like this are widely encountered in Australia and are critical to the engineering design of offshore oil and gas infrastructure.”
Now, Marina is back in Brazil completing a Master’s degree at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, but the work that she did during her two semesters of undergraduate study abroad has led to a paper that was recently published by CRC Press (Taylor and Francis).
“It is a great accomplishment,” she said. “UWA’s installations are like a dream, and the COFS team supported me in whatever I needed, so we could develop and acquire really strong and consistent results.”
Although Marina was only a third-year student at the time, Carraro said she took the lead on the setup of the resonant column apparatus that she ended up using for her research, and this state-of-the-art device had never been used before at UWA.
“Her contribution was fundamental to the development of this new testing capability we have now at COFS and UWA. This is the only device of its kind in Western Australia and possibly one of a few in the entire country.”
Marina’s achievements resulted in their paper entitled “Stiffness degradation and damping of carbonate and silica sands,” which was recently presented at the third International Conference on Frontiers in Offshore Geotechnics in Oslo, Norway.
“Marina was an excellent student,” Carraro added. “The quality of her work was second to none.”
Carraro also praised the Science Without Borders program for its high value in providing Brazilian students with a unique and invaluable opportunity to build solid international relationships with some of the best research groups in the world.
“I think the CNPq-SWB program at UWA has opened new opportunities to promote (and get engaged in) international cutting-edge research that addresses global challenges,” he said.
“It already has and will continue to allow us to improve international collaborations and attract some of the best Brazilian students to our postgraduate courses and programs. For those groups where previous collaborations already existed (e.g. UWA-UFRGS), the program has allowed such collaborations to be solidified.”
For more information on the COFS Geotechnical Testing Laboratory at UWA, visit: http://www.cofs.uwa.edu.au/capabilities/facilities/geotechnical-testing-laboratory
Sara Normand, Manager North/South America