The new Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, is a multi-award-winning and multi-faceted engineer, teacher and scientist, who invented “electronic paper” with her husband and lent the voice to an animated doll that personifies her.
Born in Almada, where she lives, Elvira Maria Correia Fortunato, 57, holds a doctorate in materials engineering, specializing in microelectronics and optoelectronics, from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, of which she has been vice-rector since 2017.
Over the past ten years, the researcher has received more than 18 international awards and honors for her work, including the Blaise Pascal Medal from the European Academy of Sciences, in 2016, and the Strait of Magellan Prize from the Government of Chile, in 2020. During her professional career, she was awarded the diploma of Grand Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, in 2010, the Pessoa Prize, in 2020, and the Gold Medal of the Order of Engineers, in 2021.
In 2008, Elvira Fortunado and her colleagues, including her husband, Rodrigo Martins, demonstrated that it was possible to make the first paper transistor, starting a new field in paper electronics.
That year, the European Research Council awarded the scientist a grant of 2.25 million euros and, ten years later, in 2018, a grant of 3.5 million euros, the highest amount. highest ever granted to a researcher in Portugal.
The materials engineer served as scientific adviser to the European Commission during the tenure of European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas, current President of Lisbon City Council.
Elvira Fortunato is Full Professor in the Department of Materials Science at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where she graduated, and a member of the National Council for Science, Technology and innovation from the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences and the board of directors of the Luso-American Foundation for Development.
Alongside her husband, who has chaired the European Academy of Sciences since 2018, Elvira Fortunato has been leading the Cenimat team since 1998 – Center for Research on Materials, which has distinguished itself by the discovery of the paper transistor.
The scientist, who in the field of materials also coordinates the i3N laboratory – Instituto de Nanoestruturas, Nanomodelagem e Nanofabricação, succeeds Manuel Heitor, also a researcher and university professor, who took up his post in 2015.
She is the author and co-author of more than 900 articles published in scientific journals and 50 books. In the children’s book “As Scientists”, she is one of two Portuguese women depicted.
In addition to scientific research, Elvira Fortunato has already arrived in the cinema, giving voice to the character of Marlene Starr, one of the most successful scientists in the world, in the Portuguese version of the animated film “Um Susto de Família 2 “, currently showing display.
In an initiative that aims to inspire girls in science, it is also one of the “faces” of one of the Barbie dolls.
Media figure and recognized worldwide, he denounced the bureaucracy and the underfunding of scientific research in Portugal, where he chose to work.