For the first time, the European Union Science Olympiad 2019 (EUSO 2019) took place in Portugal, at FCT NOVA, from 4th to 11th of May 2019. The organization involved 53 professors and researchers from FCT NOVA and 93 volunteers to receive the 150 high school participating students that came from 24 European countries to compete in the 17th edition of EUSO. The European Union Science Olympiad (EUSO) is a multidisciplinary, integrated science, practical-based, team competition for European Union (EU) second level school science students who are 16 years-of-age or younger on December 31st prior to the competition. It provides young EU students with a platform to display their scientific capabilities, challenges and stimulates gifted EU science students to develop their talents and to promote their career as scientists.
Various UCIBIO researchers and professors integrated the EUSO 2019 Scientific Committee.
Maria João Romão, UCIBIO director and lab leader of the XTal Macromolecular Crystallography Lab, was the Chairperson of the Scientific Committee. Eurico Cabrita, lab leader of the (Bio)Molecular Structure and Interactions by NMR Lab, was the Head of Chemistry group. Margarida Braga, collaborator of UCIBIO, was the Head of Biology group. Sérgio Filipe, leader of the Bacterial Cell Surfaces and Pathogenesis Lab, was also member of the Scientific Committee. Many other researchers collaborate in the preparation of the competition tasks. Alice Pereira, co-lab leader of the Molecular Biophysics Lab, was the mentor of the portuguese teams.
The competition has two tasks prepared and presented by the Scientific Committee, including three scientific areas each (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). In the EUSO 2019, "the tasks were designed to represent the country," explained Maria João Romão to the newspaper Público. Task 1 was about “Cork - an extraordinary natural product” and the Task 2 was dedicated to “The Ocean - Marine Resources”. Portugal is the responsible for over 50% of world cork production and the students skills were tested in the three scientific areas, using this important Portuguese natural product. Portugal has the 3rd largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the EU and the 11th in the world, with 1.7 million km2 and in the end of task 2 students will have learned different Marine Resources from the Ocean.
The 150 students, coming from 24 countries of the European Union, were welcomed in a warm ceremony that took place during the morning of the 5th of May at the FCT NOVA Auditorium, where members of the Honorary, Scientific and Organizing Committees welcomed all present and wished all the teams success. Each of the 50 teams (two teams per country and four Portuguese, as the organizing country) had the opportunity to present itself to the audience. Task 1 took place on May 6 and task 2 on May 8 in the laboratories of the Chemistry Department of FCT NOVA.
The Closing and Medals Ceremony was held on May 10, at the Joaquim Benite Theater in Almada. The Portuguese teams that represent Portugal won two silver medals and two bronze medals. Germany was the winner, both teams won gold medal and the B team won the trophy.
In the news
Maria João Romão, Chairperson of the Scientific Committee, in the opening ceremony
Público Newspaper interview to Maria João Romão
Eurico Cabrita (Head of Chemistry group) and Margarida Braga (Head of Biology group)
Eurico Cabrita and Margarida Braga during the interview by Visão journalists
Eurico Cabrita with Michael A. Cotter, President of EUSO
Maria João Romão received the FCT NOVA director visit during the EUSO competition tasks
The Portuguese teams with their mentor Alice Pereira (UCIBIO researcher).