Gulbenkian supports “New Scientific Talents” of Porto University

29 December, 2021

Nine students from the University of Porto will join the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s “New Scientific Talents” programme. The initiative was created with the aim of supporting projects for the initiation of research and scientific innovation by higher education students in Portugal.

André Moreira and Nuno Costa, students of the 3rd year of the Degree in Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering (FEUP) and Faculty of Economics (FEP) presented the Quantum Technologies programme and won a 10-month research scholarship that will allow them to explore challenges related to quantum computing, working as a “tool to solve problems of practical interest that classical computing cannot handle”.

While André Moreira proposes to study quantum algorithms that can be applied to optimization problems in contexts that may have an impact on global sustainability, Nuno Costa will focus mainly on techniques based on program properties to ensure their correctness.

Alongside these projects, international student of the 1st year of the Master in Urban Planning and Design, Jeff Anderson won a scholarship in the Environmental Sustainability category. The project focuses on sustainable urban waste management, with special attention to the dichotomy “food waste/hunger in cities”. To better understand this problem I will study the concept of Nature Based Solutions – NbS and social organisations similar to Refood”, says the student.

Besides quantum technologies and the area of environmental sustainability, the Gulbenkian New Scientific Talents Scholarship Program also selected Rodrigo Tuna Andrade and Pedro Correia in the area of Artificial Intelligence. Pedro Correia’s project will focus on natural language processing (NPL) and on trying to interpret the existence of “shortcut learning” in language models. In other words, “the model is learning to solve a task, but is capturing the wrong phenomenon, so it has a good result when it is training, but a bad result afterwards”, he explains on the university website.

Besides these investigations, the Foundation also approved the attribution of three scholarships in different areas. Miguel Oliveira and Rafael Soares, students of the degrees in Physics Engineering and Physics, respectively, were selected in the Physics category. Ricardo Marques, also a student of the degree in Physics, had his project in Mathematics approved. FEP also saw the approval of the project presented by Ana Bárbara Vilar in the Environmental Sustainability category.

The Gulbenkian New Scientific Talents Scholarship Programme annually supports research and scientific innovation by students at Portuguese higher education institutions. The initiative was launched in 2017. This year 50 grants were awarded in the areas of Physics, Artificial Intelligence, Mathematics, Environmental Sustainability and Quantum Technologies.