Name: Tiago Paixão
Year of Birth: 1978
Place of birth: Viseu, Portugal
City of residence: Houston, TX
Years in the US: 0.5
Undergraduate Degree: Physics Engineering (Instituto Superior Técnico)
Postgraduate Degree: PhD Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS / Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência)
Current professional status:Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Houston
Research interests:Theoretical Biology, evolution of complexity, evolution of gene regulatory networks
Best career achievement : Getting my PhD
To be or not to be an immigrant in the US
What brought you to the USA?
Being able to do the type of research I wanted with people that could teach me a great deal. After finishing my PhD in Portugal, I wanted to pursue research in an area that was not really represented there. Besides, I felt that I needed an international experience. Of course, that place didn't have to be the US, it just happened that the people that were doing this research were here. And Texas, well, if you are going to the US you might as well go in deep.
Name the three most valuable lessons you have learned in this country (at work or not). 1) Good work goes a long way; 2) The importance of friends and family; 3) Don't underestimate the power of ignorance (I'm genuinely amazed with this creationism phenomenon and the willingness of people to deny basic scientific facts).
Are you planning to go back to Portugal? Why/Why not?
Eventually, yes. I may change my mind (I've only been here for a short time), but I still believe that Portugal has a lot of potential for research that can only be tapped if some aspects of its educational system change. And that can only happen if the people who have been exposed to some serious scientific culture return willing to perform these changes.
What conditions (other than salary) do you have here that you do not have in Portugal?
I actually think I would be earning more in Portugal than here but anyway... The opportunity to get to know the American scientific culture, to get to know all the big names in person (they do tour here, too), to have so many bright people with whom to talk to about my work or anything else are really some the reasons I think being here is great.
What do you think Portugal is still better at?
The obvious things: social life, food and a stable weather (although Houston is pretty warm, hurricanes are something that I won't miss).
What would you like to see changed in the Portuguese educational system?
The amount of inbreeding in Portuguese universities might have been unavoidable some years ago but nowadays it's completely unacceptable. We have so many accomplished researchers abroad, many eager to return to Portugal, that it is ridiculous to continue this culture of close-mind to outside influences. From my experience here so far, the Portuguese students are at least as bright as their American counterparts and they just need to be motivated by more enthusiastic professors.
The daily life in the US
|Favourite news from Portugal: ||Jornal Publico, Mom and Dad |
|Favourite website/blog: ||Edge.org |
|Ideal weekend program in your US city: ||Right now, I'm still finding out about Houston, which is a huge, sprawling city. But I'm guessing the ideal weekend would have to include a visit to The Orange Show, a tribute to the fruit by a postman and one of the wackiest places here, or a trip to the Menil Collection. This followed by some Texas barbecue at the Goode Company, some drinks at the Mink or the Gingerman and some late night pecan pie at the House of Pies. This, of course, if there is no rodeo going on. |
|Portuguese neighbourhood: ||Well, this is Texas, so I guess the nearest Portuguese community is around 3000 miles east, in New Jersey. When I crave for some chouriço or bacalhau I pay a visit to some friends in Boston or NY. However, there is a restaurant named Oporto, which has a nice selection of Portuguese wines and some tasty Portuguese-inspired cuisine. |