BCDRN Trainee Spotlight: Dr Barbara Oliveria, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, UBCO

BCDRN Trainee Spotlight: Dr Barbara Oliveria, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, UBCO

This quarter we shine a spotlight on BCDRN trainee Dr Barbara Oliveria. Barbara is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow trainee in the Exercise, Metabolism and Inflammation Lab at the UBC Okanagan campus. Learn more about Barbara and her journey from Brazil to Canada to pursue her passion for research that makes an impact on the lives of those living with diabetes.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Belo Horizonte, the 6th largest city in Brazil with over 2.5 million people. Its name means “Beautiful Horizon” due to endless hills and natural views. The architecture is remarkable with historic buildings, churches and stadiums. The weather is usually great, hot and dry!

What did you study in your undergrad and where?

I am a Dietitian and obtained my diploma back in my city. After that, I followed with a Post-graduation in Sports Training but rapidly switched to my Master’s degree in Neuroscience studying Alzheimer’s Disease and antioxidants through in vitro trials.  For my PhD, I followed similar research but shifted to Type 1 Diabetes.

What got you interested in diabetes research?

My previous supervisor had been studying aging and diabetes for some time and I joined the lab bringing a bit of the nutritional point of view with curiosity upon the effects of antioxidant vitamins in Type 1 diabetic cells. By the time my PhD was done, I already had 2 kids and paused my career. Years later my background in diabetes research led me to my current position here in Canada.

How far along are you in your degree and what do you hope to achieve in 2021 with your research?

I have been a postdoc at the Exercise, Metabolism and Inflammation Lab since September 2019, with an appointment up to August 2022. We have some ongoing projects with exogenous ketones and low-carbohydrate interventions in people with Type 2 Diabetes and hope to advance in the trials even after these challenging times.

Any funny stories to share with the trainee community?

Before my appointment started, I came to UBC Okanagan for an interview with Dr. Little from Brazil’s summer to Kelowna’s February winter. It was -13 degrees and windy, the lowest temperature I had ever experienced. After meeting with him in his office, he kindly showed me around campus which I couldn’t enjoy as much. I remember we had a chat outside and didn’t even respond to a lunch invitation since I was freezing! I do regret that Jon!

Any advice for trainees starting out on how to connect with colleagues?

I believe the most valuable reward we take from experiences are the people we meet. Even in virtual moments we should try to connect by video, phone, text message, cards… Keep an eye out for groups, courses and events! At UBC Okanagan postdocs can get in touch through the Postdoctoral Association to know other colleagues and help build our community.

What was your favourite research event/meeting to attend?

I really liked the ADA Scientific Sessions from last year since I have always looked up to ADA and wasn’t able to participate from overseas. Recently, I am enjoying the “BCDRN Meet the Researcher” in which we get to know all the wonderful projects and people involved with studying diabetes here.

The past year has been a pandemic and travel has been restricted. When travel is allowed, where do you want to go and why?

The first place I would like to go is back to Brazil to see my family and friends and specially meet my niece who was born last year. After that, explore Canada, take my kids to Disneyworld, cruise to Alaska, spend summer in Greece, the world is so big, right?

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