Campus and Community

Técnico alumni win the “IEEE Outstanding MSc Thesis Award”

The works authored by the alumni Maria Teresa Parreira and Manuel Serra Nunes were awarded by the IEEE Portugal section.

Maria Teresa Parreira, Biomedical Engineering alumna, and Manuel Serra Nunes, Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus, won this year’s edition of the “IEEE Outstanding MSc Thesis Award”. These awards were established in 2020, by the IEEE Portugal section, and aim to award the best MSc theses carried out in Portuguese higher education institutions. This is not the first time that IEEE Portugal section recognises works by Técnico alumni. Four Técnico alumni were awarded last year.

Maria Teresa Parreira’s work titled “Describing monolayer mechanoresponse from nuclear morphology and dynamics: a computational approach”, was awarded in the “Engineering in Medicine and Biology, and Signal Processing” category. The MSc thesis focused on the application of microscopy image processing methods for drawing conclusions on cellular biomechanics, and was supervised by professor João Sanches (Department of Bioengineering – DBE/IST), and professor Kris Dahl (Department of chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University).

“The project that culminated in this MSc thesis was a collaboration between two countries, two universities, two departments and two professors who had never worked together”, says Maria Teresa Parreira. “It was a privilege for me to serve as a bridge between such different technical skills. This award reinforces the importance and relevance of this type of collaboration in Science”, she adds.

Maria Teresa Parreira had a very successful academic career. A few months ago, the alumna won the Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo Award in the “Young Alumna” category.

Manuel Serra Nunes’ work titled “Action-conditioned disentanglement of agent and objects for video prediction in robotic tasks”, was awarded in the “Engineering in Robotics and Automation, and Computational Intelligence” category. This is not the first time that his MSc thesis is awarded. Last year, his work was recognised by the Portuguese Robotics Society.

The MSc thesis was developed at the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR-Lisboa), under the supervision of professors José Santos-Victor and Plinio Moreno López, and researcher Atabak Dehban, and focuses on predicting video frames using deep learning models.

After applying for the “IEEE Outstanding MSc Thesis Award” Manuel Serra Nunes didn’t think about it anymore. “I was taken by surprise” a few months later, when he learnt of his victory. “I was very happy because I was able to share my work in a clear way, which aroused people’s curiosity, and also because it can play an important role in the next generation of cognitive robotics”, says the Técnico alumnus.

The alumnus highlights the importance of this award “not only because it stimulates students to carry out their research work, but also it encourages us to go a little further”.