Only the Unexpected Makes You Happy

Danilo Bertagna (ESR6)

Hello! My name is Danilo, ESR #6 from the NOWELTIES program. My goal is to design a lab-scale UV-LED photoreactor on laboratory scale to degrade organic micropollutants via TiO2 photocatalysis and evaluate the factors that might affect this process.

I was born in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. When I was about 4 years old, my dream was to become a supermarket cashier (they wore rollerblades – it looked so cool!).

I then changed my mind a couple of times: astronaut, footballer, journalist, psychologist, physicist; until, finally, I chose to become a chemical engineer.

During high school I liked chemistry and physics equally, so I thought that chemical engineering would have been a good idea, because I would have had the opportunity to work in many different sectors: oil, polymers, food, metals, water, pharmaceutics, management, energy, computers, quality control, laboratories…

Towards the end of my graduation, when I started looking for internships and jobs, I realized the difficulty that a young engineer can encounter when he wants to gain credibility with people who make important decisions in large companies.

The crisis that hit Brazil in 2015 destroyed much of the national economic system. Especially in the field of industry, the positions for engineers have fallen dramatically.

In this scenario, my prospects were less and less predictable. I was very lucky to get an Erasmus Mundus scholarship for a master’s degree in Spain and Portugal in 2016, where I studied environmental sciences and advanced oxidation processes in water treatment.

There, I realized that the interest in the environment is very strong in Europe and consequently there are many more job opportunities.

After the Master, I became aware of the Nowelties program and I did not hesitate to take this opportunity. The experience I am living through is not only a way to continue my studies but an opportunity to make my colleagues understand that science is not something far from society, it is not abstraction and the choices related to it have a strong impact on everyday life.

The world can never become a better place if knowledge remains in the hands of a few experienced people.

It is important to spread, create awareness, convince people that change is possible. We, researchers, must become “agents of change”.

I like to travel and discover new stories, cultures and languages. I feel excited to live in a new country and a new city where I don’t know anyone and slowly start a new life; to see how the environment changes me and how it alters my perspective.

My research takes place in Zagreb (Croatia), and so far, I can say that I have never felt so happy with my life before and every day when I wake up, I think about doing my best to enjoy this opportunity.

It’s true that “Only the unexpected makes you happy.”