I graduated in Biology from the University of Coimbra and completed my MSc and PhD (1994) degrees in Biological Engineering/Biotechnology from the Instituto Superior Técnico, Univ Técnica de Lisboa. During my PhD I identified the biosynthetic pathway of gellan gum, a relevant industrial polysaccharide, and manipulated its composition/structure in the bacterium Sphingomonas paucimobilis. I joined the NMR and Cell Physiology research group at ITQB in 1994 as a postdoctoral fellow. I identified novel intracellular low molecular weight solutes that accumulate in hyper-thermophiles using 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy. These solutes were shown to be part of the biochemical mechanisms of thermostabilization of the microorganisms and I have additionally elucidated the biosynthetic pathway of one solute (mannosylglycerate), purified and characterized key enzymes. In 2000 I joined the Microbial Genetics group at ITQB as a senior researcher, where I was trained in molecular biology and have cloned, produced and characterized selected enzymes of the spore coat of Bacillus subtilis with high biotechnological potential. During the period 1998-2005 I was also an Assistant Professor at ULHT, Lisbon, where I lectured Microbiology and Microbial Technology courses.
In 2004 I was awarded Invited Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator of the Microbial and Enzyme Technology laboratory at ITQB (http://met.itqb.unl.pt/). My efforts focused on the creation of a dynamic research group working in the interface of protein science and protein technology with international recognition in oxidoreductive biocatalysis. Multidisciplinary strategies were developed targeted at the 1) selection of biocatalyst from in vitro or in silico screening, 2) characterization for providing structural, catalytic and stability fingerprints, 3) engineering to improve their performance and robustness and 4) application in the synthesis, degradation or modification of compounds of interest in environmental or industrial biotechnology.
In 2014 I was awarded an FCT Investigator Consolidator Grant and later an Assistant Professor position at ITQB.