October 24, 2023 – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, Braga

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

As the Program moves towards the end of its third Phase, its Annual Conference returns in October with an ideation exercise that will help us understand the Program’s role in shaping Portugal’s future.

The Conference Theme Explained

The UT Austin Portugal Program is about to complete its third funding cycle. The ideation exercise about the future, which started in 2021 with the support of the Program’s Governing Board and the External Review Committee, gathered pace in 2022. The main stakeholders in this exercise agree that future directions must consider the Program’s accomplishments over its 16-year journey and the main challenges Portugal faces now and in the coming years as a member of the international community.

What accomplishments has the Program generated that can be used to design scientific action for the most pressing societal problems? Drawing on its past outcomes and impact, where can the Program continue to make a difference in the future? Sixteen years may be considered a long time to have a return on investment with public funds. Still, one must remember that research, incredibly collaborative and international, takes a long time to establish: first, to build trust and communication, then to produce results. Moreover, impactful change in science and technology does not happen overnight.

The Partnership’s framework is in place and has been tested, fine-tuned and proven to benefit the Portuguese community and the country’s international standing. But what lies ahead? Where should the Program be looking to go on delivering unique value and expanding the breadth of its impact?

The 2023 Annual Conference wraps up the Phase 3 of the Program with an agenda that offers a platform to ideate on an ambitious future for Portugal drawing on UT Austin Portugal Partnership’s strengths.

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 is being exhibited at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory  (INL).

Our Guests

This is our wall of top-notch speakers. Learn more about them by clicking on their names.

Ana Pêgo

Amal Moussaoui Haynes

António Bob Santos

Brian Korgel

Dan Stanzione

Emanuel Tutuc

João Maciel

John Ekerdt

José Manuel Mendonça

Killian Lobato

Lois Orosa

Lorena Diéguez

Miguel Nóbrega

Nuno Castro

Paula Vilarinho

Paulo Ferreira

Paulo Freitas

Peter Arzberger

Ricardo Bessa

Rui Oliveira

Sílvia Garcia

A Forward-Looking Agenda

October 24 @ INL

Check-in starts at 8:45 a.m.

9:30 a.m. Opening Session
10 a.m. A review of Phase 3 through the lens of the External Review Committee, with Peter Arzberger
10:20 a.m. Envisaging the Program’s Future: Steering Scientific Domains to Key Societal Missions
10:30 a.m. Our Energy Future | Keynote Speech with John Ekerdt | Chair: Killian Lobato
11:30 a.m. Coffee-Break
12 noon Clean Energy – Opportunities for Portugal (Round Table #1), moderated by António Vidigal
1:15 p.m. Networking lunch + E-Poster Exhibition
2:45 p.m. Contributions of Nanotechnology to the UT Austin Portugal Mission (Round Table #2), moderated by Paulo Ferreira
3:50 p.m. The Importance and Opportunity of Advanced Computing Infrastructures for Research and Innovation (Round Table #3), moderated by Nuno Castro
4:50 p.m. The Future of Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the EU and the US
5:20 p.m. Closing Remarks
5:30 p.m. Afternoon Reception

Thematic Sessions

With Peter Arzberger, Chair of UT Austin Portugal Program’s External Review Committee

A captivating session led by the esteemed Chair of the Program’s External Review Committee, Peter Arzberger, who will share the Committee’s perspective on the program’s journey during Phase 3 and also its recommendations to chart a course for even more remarkable achievements, based on the independent assessments carried out between 2019 and 2022.

With José Manuel Mendonça, National Director of the UT Austin Portugal Program (PT)

The Program’s Leadership takes stock of the work that has been carried out with the support of key stakeholders to set a vision for the Partnership beyond 2023. The way forward draws on this community’s 16-year legacy to steer its scientific and innovation capabilities to some of the most pressing societal challenges.

With John G. Ekerdt (UT Austin) as Keynote Speaker and Killian Lobato (University of Lisbon) as Chair

Our Energy Future

Climate change, energy security, energy equity and sustainable growth are major drivers shaping our energy future.  Green hydrogen will be pivotal in addressing these drivers.  Hydrogen is needed in decarbonizing manufacturing processes through electrification, and the transportation sectors directly or through electric vehicles.  Long-term hydrogen storage and chemical conversion of hydrogen to alternate liquid fuels, including methanol and ammonia, can overcome the intermittency of solar and wind power.  Portugal and Texas have an abundance of solar irradiance and wind providing the energy to produce green hydrogen through hydrolysis, and are natural partners to advance this energy future.  Our academic institutions have the expertise to undertake the necessary research and the infrastructure to educate the workforce who will ultimately lead this energy future.  The energy future will require an ecosystem that values fundamental research, fosters innovation and encourages start-ups.  Realizing this future will also require investments in research on decarbonization of industrial manufacturing through electrification of process heating, materials discovery for multijunction photovoltaic solar cells, and power grid solutions across all scales to address intermittency, to list a few examples.


With António Vidigal moderating the discussion between Energy thought leaders from the US and Portugal: Brian Korgel (UT Austin Energy Institute), Carla Tavares (Galp), João Maciel (EDP Renewables) and Ricardo Bessa (INESC TEC).

As more countries accelerate their transition to clean energy sources, Portugal, with its unique geographical and climatic advantages, stands poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a greener future through research and deployment of fossil-free energy solutions.

Also, The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has been leaving its footprint in the global energy transition by spearheading innovative research, fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations, and educating the next generation of leaders who will drive sustainable and transformative energy solutions.

Join us on an exciting session to explore the path forward, share ideas, and understand the benefits of extending the ongoing collaboration with UT Austin to the energy field to unlock the potential of clean energy in Portugal.

With Paulo Ferreira (INL) at the helm, this round table brings together high-calibre discussants from the Program’s transatlantic community: Ana Pêgo (i3S), Emanuel Tutuc (UT Austin), Lorena Dieguez (INL) and Paula Vilarinho (University of Aveiro).

Nanotechnologies’ potential to drive innovation, improve sustainability, and enhance quality of life makes it a key driver of progress in the 21st century. The pool of talent, knowledge and resources the Program and its transatlantic community have successfully mobilized in Nanotechnologies for almost a decade makes it impossible to ideate the Program’s future without them.

This panel brings experts from both sides of the Partnership to discuss where the collaboration in Nanotechnologies between Portuguese research and innovation actors and The University of Texas at Austin can be more strategic for Portugal and the country’s international standing.

Nuno Castro (UMinho; CERN) challenges a high-level panel to discuss the significance and importance of advanced computing infrastructures: Sílvia Garcia (ANI), Dan Stanzione (The Texas Advanced Computing Center), Lois Orosa (Galicia Supercomputing Center) and Miguel Nóbrega (UMinho).

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, advanced computing infrastructures have become indispensable tools for driving research and innovation across a myriad of fields. Not only do they empower researchers to simulate complex phenomena, analyze large datasets, and model intricate systems in fields as diverse as climate science, healthcare, and materials engineering, they are also poised to foster innovation, by providing a platform for collaboration between academia, industry, and government agencies.

As Portugal expands its supercomputing capabilities – Deucalion, the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking supercomputer located in Portugal, was inaugurated last September, becoming the latest addition to EU’s expanding family of EuroHPC supercomputers – this round table will explore the importance and significance of these infrastructures to advance research and development and fuel innovation.

A US diplomat will analyse the importance of R&D cooperation between the EU and the US. A talk that will help improve the understanding of the Program’s past and future contribution to Portugal’s alignment with the EU-US S&T cooperation agenda.

Recently, US and EU officials have agreed to expand R&D collaboration on cancer, climate change, green aviation and other fields and foster research training and mobility, indicating a further warming of transatlantic science relations.

With our eyes laid on the future of the UT Austin Portugal Program after December 2023, this session will be a stock-taking exercise of the long-standing EU-US partnership in Science and Technology (S&T), also to help us understand how bilateral Programs like ours can contribute to the goals of the transatlantic alliance which has reached a new stage of maturity and trust.


Conference Venue

This year the UT Austin Portugal Program Annual Conference is back to the same city that hosted the first Conference of Phase 3: Braga! Only this time we will meet at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), home of cutting-edge research and development in nanotechnology. INL reunites the expertise and innovation of more than 450 researchers from all over the world, creating the perfect setting to celebrate this partnership that has been connecting Portugal and Austin for 16 years!


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