A Nomad Scientist – getting to know Catarina

“We are all living a nomadic life not in changing our localities but in changing our minds and this is how we are supposed to live…” – Sanjay GS

But why not have both – experiences that help develop our minds, but also travel to places that can change our perception towards the world?

Given that, I started 2023 with a new challenge at RubyDuke. This seemed exciting but also daunting… introducing myself! And there we were my first task, to write a blog entry. Even if I like to talk a lot (and I do mean a lot), talking about me is not my favourite topic.

I did what people always tell me to do, reflect on it! And there I was reflecting on my journey and its common thread – globetrotting.

We are all familiar with nomads – people that move from place to place rather than living in one place all the time. My name is Catarina and I consider myself a nomad scientist. While nomads normally change places because of the weather, I have moved across Europe pursuing my passion for science and the medical field.


I have never been one to stay still, with my curiosity guiding me through my life.

According to my parents, I am practical and logical, having a very annoying evidence-based or results-driven attitude. Therefore, science seemed the best choice for my future career. After seeing a television report on virology, I gained an admiration for these tiny, evasive and constantly evolving villains. Therefore, I decided that was what I would follow at university, studying a bachelor’s in Biochemistry at the University of Coimbra. Not giving me the training I was craving, I packed my suitcases and moved to Paris to venture in a master’s degree in Applied Microbiology.

Being in a city bursting with life, fashion and lights (it is called “The city of Light” after all) and so different from my little corner in tiny Portugal, the move was more than justified. There, I discovered the wonders of clinical trials and clinical research, which further defined my scientific path. By now, I worked with big rats, diabetic rats, small mice, but humans were my predilect subject, all culminating in an project on detection techniques for herpes virus in ocular samples. Being able to communicate my research to stakeholders and seeing its potential impact on human health was amazing.

More, seeing how unregulated research application can be awakened my interest in guidelines and policies, bringing me back to Lisbon for a postgraduate degree in health policy. Being hard to break into this world, my journey took me back to Paris to continue on clinical research.  As any researcher knows, work under constant fear of budgeting can be intimidating, and so I decided to continue my education with a PhD in Norwich under the umbrella of diagnostic tools development and the policies for their application in clinical practice.

The world of clinical research was finally at my feet. During these latest experiences, I was communicating my research to different stakeholders and by the end of my PhD, I realised that communicating medical science was far more rewarding for me than trying to advance it from the lab bench.

Flow chart of science, health science, clinical research, health policies, and med comms.

Combining my love of communicating with my inquisitive personality became an obsession!

This ultimately brought me to Cambridge for a career in medical communication. On the way, I packed myself with some different languages (besides mum’s Portuguese, I learnt French, English, Italian and added a bit of Russian into the mix), experienced several cultures across the globe, found myself a partner in crime, and called Cambridge home for now!

People talking multiple languages

Although my career path is sorted, my thirst for exploring is not.

Sooner or later, you will find me wandering during my holidays with my best companions: Jake and Amora (whenever possible). Who knows where my love of languages and cultures will take me.

For sure, I’ll continue to enjoy exploring places like a local, tourist like a local, and increase my knowledge of world languages – as 5 is still not enough.

If you want to find out more about Catarina, then get in touch with Kelly, our Operations Manager. She can tell you all about our team and how they can support you!

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