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By: Carleara Ferreira da Rosa Silva – A former Ciência sem Fronteiras/CAPES scholar from Brazil , Carleara holds a Ph.D. degree in Nursing from The State University of New York at Buffalo.

Most graduate students in science have two things in common. The first is the love of science and the dream of making the world a better place through science. The second one is the longing to belong to a scientific community. Brazilian scientists are like that. Even before moving from the United States to pursue a Ph.D., we tried to reach out to one another and created groups where we could share our thoughts and seek for peer support. Laspau does a great job of mentoring us in this process from application to placement at an American university.

After moving to the U.S., we continue to use these groups on social media, as well as the mentorship received from Laspau. The Brazilian Consulate in New York held a meeting for graduate and undergraduate student in New York City during my first year at The State University of New York at Buffalo. It was a great opportunity to meet my virtual friends in person and members of the Laspau team. Gisele Passalacqua (Master of Engineering at Columbia University) and I were invited by Gláucia Ribeiro (Laspau) to share our experiences with Laspau during that meeting. More than sharing the great experience we had, that meeting marked the beginning of BRASCON. I want to share with you more about my experience creating this unique space for Brazilian scientists studying in the United States.

What is BRASCON?

BRASCON, the Brazilian Students and Scholars Conference, has a mission of empowering Brazilian scientific community in the United States. BRASCON was born from the combined efforts three Laspau-sponsored graduate students in the United States. At the meeting at the Brazilian Consulate, Gisele had this brilliant idea of gathering graduate students, and I joined immediately. She posted the invitation on our facebook group, and Vanessa Dias (Entomology- University of Florida) and Camila Zanette (Pharmaceutical Sciences-University of California-Irvine) joined us.

We worked as a team building the foundation for BRASCON and learned in the process that more than a gathering place, BRASCON should be a space for professional development, networking, and peer review for research. We wanted to learn from the Brazilian scientists that preceded us and build the path for the generations to come. At that point, Gisele, Vanessa and I were supported by Gláucia in planning the first BRASCON. Our team of four slowly became the solid workforce of over 20 volunteers from different fields placed in 14 universities in the United States.

The Conference

The first BRASCON took place at Harvard University, March 12-13, 2016. Drs. Miguel Nicolelis, Marcelo Gleiser, Cristina Caldas, Leonardo Maestri and others joined us and shared their experiences with the 120 participants at BRASCON 2016.

BRASCON 2017 took place at the University of Southern California, March 11-12, 2017. Drs. Roberto Alvarez, Angela Olinto, Marcus Dutra e Melo among others shared their experiences as keynote speakers and panelists with 120 participants. The Cia. De Talentos hosted a workshop for professional development.

The third edition of BRASCON will take place on June 23-24, 2018 at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio. Confirmed speakers include Drs. Joana D’arc Felix, Duilia de Mello, Jose Pires, Roberto Alvarez, and Ulisses Mello.

BRASCON offers both a personal and professional growth experience. We receive reports from students who have gotten internships, research collaborations and met new friends at the conference. Some students who presented their research at BRASCON were able to later translate their work into a start-up company.

For those interested, we encourage you to join us and support BRASCON by helping us spread the news or even by joining us at the conference as a speaker, sponsor or presenter at the Opportunities Fair. We also encourage other students studying abroad to look for these types of opportunities to connect and network with one another. It has been a long road but is has been worth it!

Thanks and Acknowledgements:

Thank you Laspau for supporting us since the beginning! Currently, I am the only remaining from the BRASCON original head team. It takes a giant amount of work to make the conference happens every year, and it would not be successful without the work of a brilliant team. Karin Calvinho (Rutgers University) and Pedro Tonhozi (University of Kansas City-Missouri) are the left and right arms in the battle to keep BRASCON alive. I am grateful for our collaborators from 2016, 2017 and today Sara Dumit,Valdir Barth, Pedro Val, Raquel Rocha, Karina Esparza, Jessica Akemi, Fernanda Gushken, Tassia Pereira, Flavio Cruz, Silvia Nishioka, Cristiano Reis, Luiz Felipe Ungericht, João Vogel, Guilherme Rosso (Rede CSF, now Emerge) e Frederico Menino.  Thank you to our partners from  BRASASciBrCOURB. Thank you to Paula Martins from BRASA OSU, Jane Aparecido, and Luke Barbara from Brazil Gateway, Dr.  Roberto Alvarez for your mentorship and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for the support.

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