Get to know : Milena Gomes

CESAREF Doctoral candidate


How would you describe yourself in two sentences? 

I am a Chemical Engineer and am now doing a PhD in Materials Science. This means that I was trained to design chemical reactors and am now learning to develop new materials.  

What are you currently working on?  

I am investigating the effect of hydrogen on ceramics. This study should help implement a novel way of producing steel that will involve a lot less CO2 emissions. The steel industry is currently responsible for 8-9% of total CO2 emissions worldwide! 

Did you always want to work in science? How were you introduced to it?  

I have wanted to work in science from when I was very young. Growing up in Brazil, I read in a magazine that most of the plants in the Amazon rainforest had not been discovered yet, and I then hatched the plan to go there to discover the plants. I guess I would have to become a botanist for that! I ended up in a totally different field, but I am just very curious about the world around us and how it works – be it trees, the stars, or bricks. 

Why is it relevant to talk about gender equality in science? 

According to a 2021 UNESCO report, there are two male scientists for each female scientist. And I think that this is at least in part because the idea that science is something for men is still ingrained in people’s minds. 

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?   

I have never felt I was at a disadvantage at work for being a woman. There is still a long way to go, but I think my example is illustrative of science becoming less gender biased.    

Who is your woman scientist inspiration? 

It is Marie Curie. I read her biography, written by her daughter Ève Curie, and it was very inspiring. With her amazing discoveries in the field of radioactivity and her double Nobel Prize winning, she showed that there are no limits to what women can achieve in science. 

What is the most motivating/exciting aspect of your job?   

I like it when I get the results of a trial. It can be thrilling to have a hypothesis confirmed, or to see that something that you concocted works. Or sometimes you may get back unexpected, perplexing results, and then you have to figure out why things happened the way they did – which can also be a very interesting investigation work!  

What message could you give to the young generation?    

In times of climate change, science is one of the ways you can make a meaningful contribution. There is a lot of interesting research going on both in the academia and the industry that could help us build a greener future.  

This project has received funding from
the European Union's Horizon Europe
research and innovation program under
grant agreement no.101072625