The International Relations Office is pleased to announce that four Bath researchers have been successful in securing funding to develop joint research with partners in Brazil.

Co-funded by FAPESP SPRINT (call 3/2019), awards have been made across the Faculties of Science, Engineering & Design, and Humanities & Social Sciences, and cover a range of topics that reflect our strong research links with universities in Brazil, including water, sustainable technologies, evolutionary biology and genetics, and foreign policy.

The joint call for São Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration (FAPESP SPRINT) builds on our successful partnerships in Latin America and the research connections that our academics have built with colleagues in Brazil. Through the scheme, researchers at Bath can apply for funding of up to £5000 per year, which is matched by FAPESP, for projects running up to two years. The projects funded in this call started in January 2020.

Read about the projects below:

Towards the development of a public and environmental health early warning system via water fingerprinting in Brazil

Bath PI: Professor Barbara Kasprzyk-Horden (Department of Chemistry)

Partner: Prof Cassiana Carolina Montagner Raimundo – Institute of Chemistry, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)

This project aims to respond to the need for rapid identification and management of public and environmental health risks in urban Brazil. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an approach developed by Prof. Kasprzyk-Hordern’s group to provide real-time measurement of water within communities, allowing for rapid evaluation and enabling strategic mitigation to avoid widespread public health emergencies. This project will identify key pollution hotspots in Campinas, Brazil and undertake city sampling, with samples to be prepared at UNICAMP and analysed at Bath labs. Establishing a cutting-edge, evidence based early warning system for public and environmental health diagnostics via water fingerprinting, this study will lead to the first public health estimation in Campinas via WBE.

Development of Bacterial Cellulose/MOF Composite for Sustained Package (DeBaC CoSuPa)

Bath PI: Dr Bernardo Castro Dominguez (Department of Chemical Engineering)

Partners: Prof. Wilton Rogério Lustri and Prof. Hernane da Silva Barud – BioPolMat / Biotechnology, Universidade de Araraquara (UNIARA)

Addressing the global environmental challenge of plastic waste from produce packaging, this project will introduce novel biodegradable materials with similar features to plastic-based packaging. The research aims to develop a bacterial composite cellulose/metal-organic framework (MOF) biofilm with the ability to preserve perishable agricultural products by preventing gases and vapor permeation through the films and removing ethylene, which is responsible for product ripening and providing a larger surface area. The research will further have potential for wider application in the medical field as a system for the sustained release of drugs.

Genome evolution in a social microbe

Bath PI: Professor Jason Wolf (Department of Biology and Biochemistry)

Partners: Prof Reinaldo Alves de Brito - Departamento de Genética e Evolução, Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar)

This project addresses a fundamental conundrum in evolutionary biology: why do populations harbor abundant genetic variation, despite the expectation that natural selection should remove variation, especially for traits tied to survival and reproduction? Examining this question, the project aims to assess patterns of gene and genome evolution within and among natural populations by studying the enormous genetic diversity of a social microbe living as single celled predators of bacteria before producing a multicellular fruiting body. Working with researchers at Universidade Federal de São Carlo, the project will assemble genome sequences from DNA sequence data and then use these assemblies to examine patterns of gene gain and loss, how signatures of selection vary based on gene properties and patterns of gene sequence variability in relation to geography (including climatic variables).

Brazil’s Foreign Policy Roles as its Presidents conceive and play them

Bath Academic: Dr Leslie Wehner (Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies)

Partner Academics: Prof. Rafael Villa and Dr Feliciano de Sá Guimarães - Departamento de Ciência Política / Center of International Politics and Economics, Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

This project aims to analyse and trace the evolution of Brazil’s foreign policy in the light of its presidential leadership over the last 25 years. Brazil has been called a regional power, leader, paymaster, integrator, security provider, and developer but also an emergent power with global aspirations. However, Brazil’s process of casting a foreign policy strategy to achieve its goals has varied with a changing domestic context, including economic and governability crises, and changing presidential leadership. Examining how Brazilian presidents such as F.H Cardoso (1995-2002), Lula da Silva (2003-2010), Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), Michael Temer (2016-2018) and Jair Bolsonaro (2019-present) approach the traditional roles of Brazil’s foreign policy fabric, the project traces their evolution as well as how presidents are able to bring their own personal views, values, interests and priorities when performing them on behalf of the state. Combining the structural elements of foreign policy and the agency of leaders on power, the project will theorise and trace empirically when leaders at their own discretion innovate in the role repertoire of the state.