I studied Physics and obtained a MSc in Laser Optics at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. During my Master thesis I built my own pulsed laser system, which I used during my research project and which was then used to develop 2 master thesis and one PhD! That was a real hands-on task! On time and without budget!!!
My PhD in Condensed Matter Physics, I received at the Université Montpellier II, in the South of France, where I also presented my habilitation (HDR) in 2008.
The main focus of my research is to understand structure-property relations that lead to polymorphism in crystalline amino acids and small drugs as well as dynamics in confinement, for instance water in clays and hardened-cement pastes and encapsulated anesthetics. In my research I use different scattering methods such as X-rays, Raman and neutrons. In addition, I am also interested in the development of new neutron instruments.
At the end of my PhD I did my first neutron experiment using the triple-axis spectrometer IN3 at the ILL with Roland Currat, Alain Bulou and Robert Almairac, all without a doubt triple-axis experts. It was a cold shower but I learnt a lot! We published a PRB paper with our results, for me, one of my most beautiful papers!
After that I went to work in the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center in the USA with Juergen Eckert. At LANSCE I had my first contact with spallation neutron sources and I started looking into hydrogen dynamics. I had a very good time there, made good friends and met my husband.
Next station, the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne also in the USA, where I worked in close collaboration with Ken Herwig and started learning the beautiful world of water in confinement. At that time I also started doing some instrument simulations, and designed a neV resolution backscattering instrument. Not yet built… but who knows???
After spending about 5 years as postdoctoral and research fellow in the USA, in 2002 my husband and I came to Germany to work as research scientists in the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin. In Berlin I had the chance to work together with Ruep Lechner and Marie-Claire Bellissent-Funel, two neutron time-of-flight experts, and I could learn a lot from them.
I spent 2005 at the Institut Laue-Langevin in France, where I had the great chance to work together with Bernhard Frick on the development of IN16B. During this last years, I set the basis for my career, formed students on neutron scattering and developed strong collaborations.
Then, came the BIG change! In March 2011 I became Associated Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute. My position is connected in part to the long awaited European Spallation Source (ESS) project, where my role is to support and strengthen the connection between the Danish scientific community and the ESS. My contribution to this fantastic project is the backscattering spectrometer MIRACLES. Ruep Lechner and myself were involved with the project from day one and MIRACLES was endorsed for construction on June 2015. MIRACLES is now in construction phase having Félix J. Villacorta and ESS Bilbao as the leading team. I am also part of this great project.
I see the University of Copenhagen and the Niels Bohr Institute as a perfect place for me. I will now be able to accomplish my dream of working in a great academic environment in close contact with highly motivated students and at the same time be part of the ESS-Copenhagen project! That is just wonderful, I have no real words to say how happy I am with this incredible opportunity.
I worked a lot for each one of them, and each single one has a history that involves long hours of work but also a lot of joy. In addition neutron and synchrotron experiments allow you to get to know many people and make amazing friends, thus each piece of work that becomes a publication is a collection of many wishes, ideas and dreams! It feels like composing a new piece of nice music!
My husband, being also a neutron scatterer, is always close by, so I really do not know how to answer this question. But I think that it is fundamental to keep a balance. Also, I cannot live without my massage, my yoga, my gym, my outside of work friends, my trips to Brazil to visit my family, so I guess I manage time well.
On the other hand, I always had the great chance to work with people that managed to stop for lunch, dinner, or coffee, go home and at the same time have pleasure while at work.
I cannot name one mentor or one greatest inspiration. But, I can say that my family and my husband are my biggest supporters, while my friends are amazing therapists!
Being away from my family, friends and colleagues in Brazil.
This is an interesting question. I started noticing gender gap and the glass ceiling only recently. YES, there are difficulties and the most obvious one is to be named to higher leadership positions. I am now very open about this issue with my colleagues: “Sure I can be in the photograph to help you on the gender balance question!” (sic) and I refuse to be in committees if I feel that is just to be a figure.
Heloisa N. Bordallo
Associate Professor (Lektor)
Niels Bohr Institute
(H.C. Ørsted Institute, bldg. D)
University of Copenhagen