Born in Colorado, Bernardo Gouveia is the first person in his extended family to be born outside of Brazil. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1992 to attend graduate school and build a new life. Bernardo’s grandmothers would stagger their visits to Colorado to take care of him and teach him about Brazilian culture and life. With little English at home, Bernardo learned how to fully utilize the resources of his elementary school in order to reach fluency.
After bouncing between Colorado, Texas, and Rio de Janeiro, Bernardo ended up at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied chemical engineering and physics. He worked with Professor Susan Muller and studied hydrodynamics and thermal fluctuations of phospholipid vesicles, which are crucial in designing medical devices that analyze red blood cells. Later Bernardo worked for Bolt Threads, a company that is introducing spider silk to the textile industry. He studied the rheology of solubilized spider silk to help the company understand spin line operations. He then applied his skills at the Pitzer Center for Theoretical Chemistry, under Professor Kranthi Mandadapu, where he worked on understanding the elastic behavior of biological membranes embedded with transmembrane proteins.
In addition to research, Bernardo devotes time to educational outreach. Back in Rio, he taught English classes for teenagers in Rocinha, the largest slum in South America. In college, he was the president of Berkeley Engineers and Mentors, an organization that teaches weekly hands-on science and engineering lessons to sixteen elementary and middle schools across the East Bay.
Bernardo will soon embark on a PhD in chemical engineering and will continue applying fundamental physics toward solving biologically relevant problems, while holding paramount his role in helping others achieve the education they desire.