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Personal profile


Catarina Pereira de Melo Vila Real is a junior researcher at Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina (CBQF), Escola Superior de Biotecnologia (ESB), Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP). She is currently involved in a PRR-funded project aimed at enhancing the nutritional quality of bakery and confectionery products in collaboration with the food industry. Catarina also contributes to the supervision of an MSc dissertation within this PRR project. Additionally, she actively participates as a peer-reviewer for scientific journals and is an invited assistant in the Nutrition and Health course within the Nursing Bachelor program. Previously (2022-2023), Catarina worked as a researcher in the PROVEG project, collaborating closely with the food industry to develop plant-based alternatives to cheese. Within this project, she co-supervised 2 MSc theses, part of Joint European Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems Engineering, Technology, and Business (BiFTec-FOOD4S). Her research interests primarily focus on the development and validation of plant-based functional foods, as well as the study of prebiotic foods/ingredients, probiotic strains, and the modulation of intestinal microbiota. Catarina obtained her Ph.D. in Biotechnology - Food Science and Engineering from CBQF, ESB, UCP, in 2021. Her doctoral research aimed to study the dietary intake and nutrition of the adult population residing in urban areas of Kenya. This included the development and validation of a food frequency questionnaire. Additionally, the research focused on the development and characterization of an innovative fermented food product based on gluten-free African whole grains, with enhanced functional properties and nutritional profile. The goal was to address nutritional deficiencies observed within the populations under study. Before this, she completed her Master's in Food Engineering in 2014 and her Bachelor's in Nutrition Sciences in 2012, both at the Portuguese Catholic University School of Biotechnology. She gained international experience during internships in Florianopolis, Brazil, and Nairobi, Kenya. Catarina has contributed to seven papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has presented more than 10 oral and poster presentations at (inter)national conferences. She has received 5 awards and/or honors, including 2 merit scholarships throughout her bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as 2 awards for best poster presentations at international conferences. As part of the Senior Mentorship Program with ESB UCP 2017/2018, she received an honorable mention. In addition to her academic pursuits, Catarina collaborates with companies in the food sector, particularly in areas related to nutritional labeling, food safety, and quality, demonstrating her commitment to advancing research and innovation in the field.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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