Despite a turbulent period for Brazilian academia, which has been hit hard by the austerity policies of recent years and suffered a grave brain drain in the process, 11 local scientists have made it onto the esteemed annual list of the most cited researchers in the world.

Education has always been one of Brazil most critical issues. And, in recent times, things have somehow gotten worse, particularly for public universities. Since 2009, Brazil’s spending per student has decreased. While the total budget rose by 40 percent, the number of students increased even further: 44 percent. The budget for science and technology in 2018 is 25 percent lower than it was last year and has hit its lowest point in history: roughly USD 1.17 billion. Since President Michel Temer took over from the ousted Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the sector has faced a progressive funding reduction that has alarmed Brazilian scientists.

Besides budget cuts caused by austerity policies, in 2016 the government decided to shut down its Science Without Borders program, which sent Brazilian students abroad in order to enhance knowledge exchange and language learning. It was a flawed program, which ended up sending a lot of people to Portugal (defeating the purpose of language learning), but it still broadened horizons for Brazilian students. Between 2011 and 2016, the program had sent almost 100,000 students to foreign institutions.

As a result of these policies, Latin America’s biggest economy has been suffering from a serious case of brain drain. In 2016, Brazil lost one of its most lauded scientists, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel. From 2004 to 2012, the finances of the public university lab where she was doing her research on neuroanatomy were flourishing. “But in 2012, while my international acknowledgment was in its ascendancy, I was still working in a lab which was just 24 square meters,” she wrote in Brazilian magazine Piauí.

Despite this grim outlook, it is almost surprising that Brazilian universities, especially public ones, have managed to put 11 local scientists (see the list below) along the most cited researchers in the world. Among those who made it to the list from Brazil are four scholars from the University of São Paulo, the institution with the highest number of cited researchers.

Published annually by consultancy Clarivate Analytics since 2014, the Highly Cited Researchers list is drawn from an analysis of the number of citations of articles published by a researcher over a decade, using the Web of Science platform. Those selected are in top 1 percent of researchers who had the highest citation averages during that period. In total, around 4.000 researchers were selected in 21 areas of knowledge. The United States is the country with the largest number of researchers mentioned (2,639), followed by the United Kingdom (546), and China (482).

See the complete list of Brazilians in the Highly Cited Researchers list below:

Álvaro Avezum (Dante Pazzanese Institute)

A cardiologist, he was elected by Thomson Reuters (2014) as one of the four Brazilian scientists with the highest academic impact in the world from a list of 3,215 researchers. He has been working for 30 years in the Dante Pazzanese Institute of Cardiology in Sao Paulo, and took part in a large international study, the “Interheart” study, which mapped risk factors of stroke in 52 countries.

Luísa Gigante Carvalheiro (Federal University of Goiás)

A biologist with a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Bristol, her research seeks to understand how environmental changes (climate change, land use, and invasive species) affect the functioning of ecosystems.

Adriano Gomes da Cruz (Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro)

Professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ) in the Department of Food, working in teaching/research in the technical course in Food Safety. Holds a specialization in Food and Nutritional Quality of Foods and a Professional Master’s degree in Science and Food Technology.

Daniel Granato (State University of Ponta Grossa)

Teaching at the Department of Food Engineering, his research focuses on the development of functional foods of plant and animal origin.

Guilherme Vanoni Polanczyk (University of São Paulo)

He is currently a Permanent Advisor of the Graduate Program in Psychiatry and coordinator of the Neurodevelopment and Mental Health Research Center at the University of São Paulo.  

Miriam Dupas Hubinger (State University of Campinas)

Professor of Food Engineering with Postdoctoral studies at the University of Pau et Pays de L’Adour, France and at the University of Porto, Portugal.

Renata Valeriano Tonon (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation)

Researches the areas of Engineering, Science and Food Technology, with emphasis on Process Engineering. Works as a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), in Rio de Janeiro.

Ana Maria Menezes (Federal University of Pelotas)

A doctor and researcher specializing in epidemiology. She is active in the fight against smoking and is a member of the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) Executive Committee (Portland, USA).

Cesar Gomes Victora (Federal University of Pelotas)

An epidemiologist and Professor Emeritus of the Federal University of Pelotas, with honorary positions at the universities of Harvard, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Mr. Victora has been studying breastfeeding and maternal and infant nutrition.

Paulo Eduardo Artaxo Netto (University of São Paulo)

Making his third appearance on the list, he is a professor of the Institute of Physics and studies global climate change, the environment in the Amazon, atmospheric aerosols and urban air pollution.

Paulo Andrade Lotufo (University of São Paulo)

Works in the areas of biostatistics and epidemiology, in subjects such as a longitudinal study of adult health, acute coronary insufficiency and morbidity, and the mortality of strokes.

Carlos Augusto Monteiro (University of São Paulo)

Researcher in the area of nutrition in public health focused on breastfeeding and infant mortality in developing countries. 

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SocietyDec 05, 2018

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BY Diogo Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a social scientist and journalist based in São Paulo.