Mónica Simões


PhD Mónica Simões


Graduated 9/2021


Thesis: Quantification of the degree of Nano-Scale Contact and its effects on Surface Adhesion using FRET Methods


Could you explain your thesis work in layman terms?

Briefly, I used spectroscopy and microscopy to measure the degree of contact between two surfaces on a nanometric scale. This is relevant, for example, to study the adhesion between different materials or the efficiency of some glue.


Your dissertation defense was organized online due to the ongoing pandemic – how was the experience?

My defense was online due to the pandemic but also because I returned to my country soon after submitting my thesis which coincided with the end of my contract with TU Graz.

The process was super simple, and everything went very well but I think it would have been better personally for everyone involved, especially for me who was extremely nervous and so I don't recommend it.


How do you see the role of FibreNet in your project and Ph.D. studies?

The project had a big impact on my PhD studies. All elements were willing to help give any tips or ideas. The resources available also helped obviously. This, together with the good working conditions, was a set of factors that allowed me to fulfill all my obligations in the best way possible as if I could feel that a large group of people behind me was doing everything for me to have success at every stage of my journey.


What is the benefit of the FibreNet network during and after the project?

I could feel the benefits of being part of a project like FiberNet from day one. The project is extremely well organized, we receive help whenever we need it, helpful training, and lots of feedback from various experts all the time.

Being a large group of students also helped a lot. Since we were all outside our countries of origin, we were able to share our journey and connect during meetings and secondments between the host countries and institutions, which enhanced the whole experience.

No doubt it is impossible to compare our experience with another student who simply stayed at his university, in his country, after finishing his Masters, for his Ph.D. studies. In short, it was an enriching experience on all levels.

I am sure that all of this will also reflect on my future as a professional but also on a social level. Not to mention, of course, the PhD degree and the experience and knowledge that this required, but also the most varied courses that were made available to us.


Can you reveal some of your future plans? For example, are you heading towards industry or academia career-wise?

Now that I have finished my studies, I intend to pursue a career in the industry, if possible in the field of pulp and paper linked to R&D.


What would be your message for those who are considering participating in an MSCA ITN project (or doctoral network as they are called nowadays)?

Honestly, go for it. I'm sure you won't regret it; it was the best decision of my life and if I could go back, I would do it all again.