What's your name, nationality, current function, and department?
My name is João Ferreira, I am from Portugal, and I am a PhD at the Language Division at the DCC, and also a member of the Language in Interaction consortium.
What is the topic of your PhD project and what does your work look like in practice?
I am working on the role of subcortical structures in language, specifically at the role of the Basal Ganglia in Inflection. My background is in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science, and as such, I run behavioural experiments on human participants related to language production.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was younger I always knew I liked to know things and that I wanted to be a scientist. It took me some time to find what specifc area fascinated me the most, but I feel I always knew Science was the thing that I would see myself pursing for the rest of my life. Eventually, I become fascinated by the human brain and how it could make sense of the world around us and I knew that before I could understand how the world works, I needed to understand how am I able to actually understand.
What does the Donders Institute mean to you?
Before coming here, the Donders Institute was an institution full of amazing discoveries made by even more amazing people. Now that I am also part of it, it feels like a place full of creative, passionate and motivated people that are always striving to make our understanding of Cognition and the Human Brain more complete. It makes me feel proud to be surrounded by such people, but at the same time I feel the responsibility of being the best person and scientist I can because I am also representing this institution now.
What aspect of your job is or has been a challenge for you?
Being more autonomous than I ever was before is a big challenge for me. I feel that sometimes it can be hard for me to focus on what I need to do and organize my time accordingly. Luckily I have amazing supervisors that are always available to help me out on whatever I need.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
My perfect weekend consists of me being 100% free to do the things I love. This means on Friday enjoying a couple of beers by the beach with friends, playing music live in my favorite pub, and finishing off the night with a good dancing sessions until the sun come up (oh, and some video game time somewhere in between). On saturday, just rinse and repeat. And sundays are made to be lazy. That is a scientific fact.
What is an important life lesson you have learned in the past?
I have learned that we are all just humans. Everybody around me has the same fears and struggles, and that it's ok not to be perfect, because nobody else is.
What is the most important advice you want to share with Donders PhD candidates?
Being a PhD is hard, but you don't have to make it any harder than it is. Never forget to find beauty in what you do, and remember that besides all the not so good times and the struggles, we're doing this because we are passionate about it.
Do you have any handy PhD project-related tips and tricks to share?
Talk to people around you. If you are struggling with anything regarding your work and/or your personal life, there's always someone that will care and will be available to give some advice, to help you out, or just to listen.
What are you looking forward to in life?
I am looking forward to know new things. New people, new places, new cultures, new costumes, new adventures. The world is too big and rich not to be explored. I have so many amazing things to discover and I can't wait for that.