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Brazilian students gain hands-on scientific research experience at Loyola

Loyola press release - December 2, 2014

Imagine a country’s government providing funding to its students specifically to study in another country. That’s exactly what’s happening at Loyola University New Orleans through Brazil’s Science without Borders Program. Brazil has sent 10 of its undergraduate students to New Orleans to study and do scientific research at Loyola for a year.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the Brazilian students,” said Patricia Dorn, Ph.D., the William and Audrey Hutchinson Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola. “Science is a global enterprise now, so to be able to build their global scientific network and to become comfortable with how science is conducted in other countries will help them in their future careers."

Through the program, Loyola is showing the students how science is applied in other countries. Because Loyola offers high-caliber, hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate students, including prestigious research projects funded through the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the Brazilian students are able to gain lab research experience early on in their college careers. For example, eight of the Brazilian students are currently working in the biology labs while one is working in the chemistry labs. Another student is doing research on Tulane's campus.

Loyola even offers a course called Biology Beyond Borders, a class exclusively designed for the students who are participating in the program. Through the Biology Beyond Borders class, the students are learning scientific ethics, how to understand and present scientific journal articles, and how to effectively communicate science, Dorn said.

So far, the students in the program are enjoying their time at Loyola. “I really like to study at Loyola because the campus is not so big, so people usually know each other here,” Rafaela Pessoa, a Brazilian native and participant in the program, said. “Also the professors have office hours, which I think is amazing because you can talk out your questions and speak with them about anything that is challenging.”

"The structure of the labs (here in the U.S.) are the biggest difference for me,” Pessoa continued. “I don’t study at a big college in Brazil, so we sometimes use the same lab for more than one discipline. Here we have one lab for each teacher. The labs here are also new and well-equipped."

The program not only provides a beneficial learning experience for the Brazilian students, but the international exchange also benefits the Loyola community.

"Students and faculty benefit greatly from new perspectives that international students bring, and it helps to build our network for possible future collaborations," Dorn said.

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