From Santa Catarina to Dundee: a SwB journey

Fernando Bueno Neves has ‘completed’ his educational journey with the University of Dundee by successfully publishing his research in Forensic Science International.

Fernando was a third-year medical student at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2014 when he joined the Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery via the Science without Borders (SwB) scholarship programme run by the Brazilian Government. This initiative aimed to send 101,000 Brazilian students on undergraduate sandwich courses, in science, technology, engineering mathematics and creative industries at top universities around the world.

The Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery of the School of Medicine was the first to accept medical students in the UK via the SwB scheme. The original intention of the project was just to give the students an experience different to that of which they may have received in Brazil but the students showed such outstanding achievement that Professor Rami Abboud progressed them on to the TORT Centre’s BMSc degree programme in Applied Orthopaedic Technology.

Fernando's research, entitled 'Establishing state of motion through two-dimensional footprint analysis: a pilot study', was supervised by Professor Rami Abboud and Dr Graham Arnold. The study recruited 11 volunteers who were required to move along four tracks (barefoot walking; barefoot running; footwear walking; footwear running) in the Gait Analysis Lab at IMAR while having their bare feet or footwear stained with artificial blood. Contact stains and associated bloodstains were collected, and body movements were recorded using three-dimensional motion capture systems.

Photographic Elements

Fernando conducting his 'bloody' research at the Gait Analysis Lab, IMAR.

Whilst in Dundee Fernando was given the opportunity to present his research orally at the International Conference on Clinical Biomechanics at Staffordshire University on 23 April 2016. He was also presented with the Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery’s Intercalated BMSc Scientific Paper Award (pictured top right) at an awards ceremony on 31sy May 2016 at the TORT Centre. This award was presented annually to the student who had written the best scientific research paper submission for the year as per the relevant journal guidelines.

Professor Abboud, stated: “Fernando’s research journey has been a remarkable one which he duly grasped with both hands (or should that be feet?!). He most probably thought that he was coming to Scotland for a nice leisurely year out of his studies back home in Brazil but not only did he come away with a BMSc honours degree, he has now successfully published his research in an international journal. It just goes to show that once a student graduates from the University of Dundee they are not forgotten about but rather we at the TORT Centre continue to support and work with them throughout their future careers in any capacity graduates may ask”.

“Fernando thrived with his research project and it was a pleasure to be his principal supervisor. It is a great pity that the Brazilian Government has stopped the SwB initiative as the medical students that we have had in our department have been nothing but excellent and added diversity to our portfolio. I must say that we have gained from the SwB students as much as they have gained from us. I hope the scheme will be only temporarily withdrawn and we are always ready to welcome future candidates in due course.” 

In January 2018 Fernando began his elective internship in Radiology at Heidelberg University. After he graduates in Medicine in December 2018, he aims to continue his studies as an assistant radiologist in Germany.

Fernando stated: “A part of me still doesn’t believe it all happened. I remember going to the Police Scotland Central with Dr Graham Arnold and getting asked how my research could improve crime scene investigation in the UK. Or Professor Sue Black – a legendary person to me – praising my research. I think good things happen when you engage in something you love. And I loved it! Above all else, it was good fun. When I was conducting the experiments, some people would show up at the lab and panic. And I always had to tell them: don’t worry, it’s fake blood!”

“I fail whenever I try to describe my experience in Dundee. It was hands down the best year of my life. Professor Abboud and the TORT Centre granted me the opportunity to design and conduct an experiment with as much freedom as possible. Bloody footsteps and an equation derived from Palaeontology? Yep, go for it was the response. I also played a Gravedigger in a Halloween piece, jogged along the banks of the River Tay on cold summer mornings and explored many Scottish legends – from Dunnottar Castle to the Fairy Pools. And, of course, met some weird folks who would become the best friends I have.”

Photographic Elements

Left: Fernando with his fellow classmates after their first exam; Right: Fernando and friends making the most of their time in Scotland.

Scotland and its scenery captivated Fernando’s mind in a curious way. While still in Dundee, he began writing an interactive novel with a friend of his, Lucas. “Highlands, Deep Waters” was published in 2017 by the American developer and publisher Choice of Games.