October 19, 2022 – Porto Cruise Terminal, Matosinhos

The UT Austin Portugal Program Annual Conference is the Program’s largest knowledge-sharing and networking event that intends to mobilize its community together with world-class speakers across academia and industry from the Partnership’s geographical scope and beyond.

Check the booklet here

The Program’s largest transatlantic event is coming back in October with an onsite format; and because this year, the program turns 15 years old, we are putting together a lineup to acknowledge this milestone, take stock of our journey and envision the Partnership’s future. To this end, we count on each and every one of you to make this event a celebration of Science and Technology as tools for sustained international cooperation, global solidarity and peacebuilding. 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION (Updated on October 3, 2022): We are no longer confirming registration requests for the Annual Conference as all available seats have been taken. Nevertheless, you may still complete and submit this form, and your request will be placed on a waiting list. We will let you know if we can accommodate your request in the meantime. The Local Organizing Team appreciates your understanding.

The Conference Theme Explained

In today’s world, with many of the problems communities and organisations face at the local level calling for globally orchestrated responses (think of climate change or cancer diseases, for instance: they are completely oblivious of territorial borders), science for diplomacy has gained prominence as never before. 

For a host of reasons, some may argue that science diplomacy serves, first and foremost, expansionist and selfish ideals rather than genuinely altruistic purposes. At the same time, it would be naïve to think that science diplomacy can be sustainable if detached from (national) self-interests.

However, if we think of science as a process for pursuing answers” and “diplomacy” as a “process for dialogue and cooperation between countries and citizens, by integrating the two, we can face challenges and take opportunities to advance humanity”. [1]   

In other words, if both sides of a partnership find common ground – with common ground including the pursuit of social and economic progress through science-based knowledge – then science for diplomacy becomes a useful tool for the good of nations. And scientists will surely have a lot to gain from a peaceful and more collaborative environment between countries and regions.  

In this edition of our Annual Conference, we challenge you to reflect on the Partnership’s standing in Science Diplomacy.

[1] Source: https://www.aaas.org/programs/center-science-diplomacy/introduction

Our Guests

This is our wall of top-notch speakers. Click on their names to read their short bios.


October 19 @ CIIMAR | 10.00 a.m. – 5.45 p.m.

10 a.m. Check-in and Welcome Coffee
10.30 a.m. Opening Session
11 a.m. International S&T Partnerships: Platforms of Science Diplomacy Round Table
12 noon Contributions of a 15-Year UT Austin Portugal Program to Intelligent Biomaterials for Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer Keynote Session
1.15 p.m. Networking Lunch (Courtesy of the Program)
  E-Poster Exhibition
2.45 p.m. UT Austin Portugal’s Footprint in Technology Commercialization Round Table
3.50 p.m. A Look to the Future: Clean Energy and the UN Sustainable Goals – Notes from the Program’s Community 
4.50 p.m. Closing Session
5.10 p.m. Afternoon Reception (Courtesy of the Program)


Download the agenda here

E-Poster Gallery

Enter the E-Poster Gallery

Browse through our E-Poster Gallery to find out the interesting science researchers from the Program Areas have been performing, which was exhibited at the Porto Cruise Terminal.

About the Thematic Sessions

With: Vítor Vasconcelos (CIIMAR), José Manuel Mendonça (UT Austin Portugal – Portugal),  John Ekerdt (UT Austin Portugal – UT Austin), Madalena Alves (FCT) and Elvira Fortunato (Ministry of Science and Technology of Portugal)

With: Amélia Polónia (FCT), Elsa Henriques (Luso-American Development Foundation),  Sona Ramesh (United States Embassy Lisbon), Tim Flink (German Parliament) and Luís Lacerda (University College London). 

This round table will set the tone of this year’s Conference.

High-calibre discussants from different sectors are invited on board to discuss the role of science and technology in diplomatic action and policymaking, particularly in support of tackling critical global challenges.

FCT’s joint venture with the University of Texas at Austin will certainly provide an opportunity for discussants to elaborate on the importance of similar initiatives to enhance international scientific cooperation and strengthen interdisciplinary collective responses to societal missions.

Keynote Speaker: Nicholas A Peppas, Sc.D.
Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering
Director, Institute of Biomaterials, Drug Delivery and Regenerative Medicine
McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Departments of Pediatrics, Surgery and Perioperative Care, Dell Medical School,
and Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712, USA

Host: Helena Florindo
Head of the BioNanoSciences, Drug Delivery & Immunoengineering Research Group Research Institute for Medicines (iMed.ULisboa)

Abstract: Engineering the molecular design of intelligent biomaterials by controlling structure, recognition and specificity is the first step in coordinating and duplicating complex biological and physiological processes.

Recent developments in siRNA and protein delivery have been directed towards the preparation of targeted formulations for protein delivery to specific sites, use of environmentally-responsive polymers to achieve pH- or temperature-triggered delivery, usually in modulated mode, and improvement of the behavior of their mucoadhesive behavior and cell recognition.

We address design and synthesis characteristics of novel crosslinked networks capable of protein release as well as artificial molecular structures capable of specific molecular recognition of biological molecules. Molecular imprinting and microimprinting techniques, which create stereospecific three-dimensional binding cavities based on a biological compound of interest, can lead to the preparation of biomimetic materials for intelligent drug delivery, drug targeting, and tissue engineering.

We have been successful in synthesizing novel glucose- and protein-binding molecules based on non-covalent directed interactions formed via molecular imprinting techniques within aqueous media. We have also developed structurally superior materials to serve as effective carriers for siRNA delivery to combat Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis.

With Verónica Orvalho (Didimo), Marta Catarino (University of Minho), Maria Oliveira (UPTEC, University of Porto), Pedro Bizarro (Feedzai) and Marco Bravo (UT Austin Portugal). Other discussants to be confirmed soon.

UT Austin Portugal, particularly with its University-Technology-Enterprise Network (UTEN), has generated a deep and significant economic and social impact in Portugal through training and business development activities.

From 2007 to 2012, through the development of a country-wide network of technology transfer offices and professionals, UTEN’s actions have contributed, at the university level in Portugal, to a 20% increase in patents granted per year, 26% rise in executed licenses per year, a staggering 137% of increased licensing income, and 132% more new academic spinoff companies, 37% of which exported technology to the world, growing at an average annual rate of 127% in revenue.

From 2012 to 2016, with the creation of the Global Startup Program, UTEN had an overall economic impact of $95 million, translated into venture capital captured from U.S. investors, sales, and trials. Three Portuguese companies have been spun out by direct program actions, and these ventures generated 67 qualified jobs with a $35 million wage impact in Portugal.

The total economic impact of this initiative during this period raised $130 million, meaning that UTEN’s actions returned $40 for every dollar invested by FCT in the Program.

This round table brings together national talent acknowledged internationally in their areas who have participated in some of the Program’s research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurial activities to discuss the Program’s contribution to Portugal’s current vibrant entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem.

With Brian Korgel (Energy Institute, UT Austin), João A. Peças Lopes (University of Porto), João P. Matos Fernandes (University of Porto) and Adriano Cerqueira (Antena 1, RTP).

The impact of human activity on climate has never been so perceptible: in 2021, we saw fast-burning wildfires ravaging California, Greece and Turkey, while torrential rainfalls were sweeping away villages in Germany in high Summer; this year, Portugal’s entire territory was put on red alert, as an unprecedented heatwave hit the country, bringing to memory the deadly fires that broke several communities in 2017; ice caps melting in the Poles at a fast pace and carrying water into the ocean put coastal towns and villages on alert for potentially devastating floods. The last decade was the warmest ever recorded, with temperatures reaching extreme levels worldwide, triggering unprecedented natural hazards.

The alarms went off, and there is a fierce urgency to transition to a net-zero economy. It’s now or never, some experts warn.

As we celebrate the Partnership’s accomplishments over the last 15 years, it’s time to take stock of the knowledge produced by some of the Program’s Scientific Areas and understand whether the Program should be tapping more explicitly into research and innovation for the energy transition.

We have invited three world-class experts from our community to discuss what Portugal and Texas, through The University of Texas at Austin, can learn from each other regarding Clean Energy and together contribute to ensuring Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All, one of the 2030 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

With: Joana Mendonça (ANI)

The Porto Cruise Terminal (South Cruise Terminal) will provide the stage for the 2022 edition of the Program’s Annual Conference. It is situated at the South Mole of the Port of Leixões, just 3 Km from the city of Porto. Since April 2011, the 340 metres-long pier has been receiving some of the biggest and most glamorous cruise ships in the world cruise fleet, boosting cruise tourism in the North of Portugal.

The terminal is also home to the Sea Centre of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto and CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, a research and advanced training institution of the University of Porto, working at the frontier of Ocean Knowledge and Innovation.


If you have any queries, do not hesitate to contact the Conference Local Organizing Team at events@utaustinportugal.org.