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Sabbatical Year Program chooses seven researchers for 2019

by Richard Meckien - published Oct 09, 2018 11:40 AM - - last modified Mar 25, 2020 08:37 AM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

IEA's Board has selected seven USP professors for the 2019 edition of the Sabbatical Year Program. Coming from diverse areas such as engineering, political science, psychology, social sciences, education, communication and sociology, they will carry out specific research projects during their stay at the Institute. Five of them will be part of the program for one year and two for six months.

Arturo Forner Cordero - Perfil

Arturo Forner-Cordero

Forner-Cordero is a professor at the Department of Mechatronic Engineering and Mechanical Systems, linked to the EP, where he started teaching in 2002. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, and holds a PhD in biomechanics from the University of Twente. Later, he became a master in neurosciences and behavioral biology from Universidad Pablo de Olavide. He has carried out postdoctoral research at the Catholic University of Leuven.


Arturo Forner-Cordero, a professor at USP's Polytechnic School (EP), will develop the project "Modeling of the Biological Motor Control System from Engineering" for six months.

Forner-Cordero explains that there have been great advances in the study of biological movement control thanks to studies from the points of view of biology, medicine and psychology, with the addition of mathematical and engineering approaches. His project starts from a general question: how does the human nervous system plan, code and control movement? The intention is to clarify the principles of motor control and to propose models that consider important aspects of biological movement, such as variability, learning, adaptability and robustness.

"Current models of motor control, however, still present some limitations, both in the ability to explain biological phenomena and in possible applications in robotics or rehabilitation," says the researcher.

He believes that the modeling predicted in his study may have applications in different disciplines. One of them would be to assist in the evaluation, diagnosis and prediction of the evolution of neuromuscular diseases, allowing the choice of more efficient therapies. Another possibility of therapeutic use would be in the area of rehabilitation robotics and optimization of auxiliary mechanisms for assistance to the disabled.

Control engineering and robotics based on biomimetic design can also benefit from the study by incorporating the robustness and adaptability of biological motor control, according to Forner-Cordero.

 Rogério Bastos Arantes
Rogério Bastos Arantes

Arantes has been a professor at FFLCH's Department of Political Science since 2008. He graduated in social sciences, and became a master and a doctor in political science at the same faculty. He focuses on the study of political institutions, with emphasis on constitutionalism and democracy in a comparative perspective; law and justice; Brazilian political system; institutions (Judiciary, Public Prosecutor's Office and Federal Police). He was a professor at PUC-SP, a researcher at the Institute of Economic, Social and Political Studies of São Paulo (IDESP,) and coordinator of the Post-Graduation Program in Political Science at USP. He is the author of "Judiciary and Politics in Brazil" (1997) and "Public Prosecutor's Office and Politics in Brazil" (2002).


Rogério Bastos Arantes, from USP's Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Literature, and Human Sciences (FFLCH), will develop the project "Political Corruption and Organized Crime in Brazil."

Through the analysis of operations conducted by the Federal Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office from 2003 to 2017, Arantes intends to achieve two main objectives. One of them is to map political corruption and organized crime in Brazil from the elements provided by more than three thousand operations triggered in the period. "Such mapping may result in a new empirical typology of the activities that are most subject to political corruption and organized crime in the country."

Another goal is to analyze the performance of the main institutions involved in combating these criminal activities, especially the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Federal Police, and the federal courts. "As constituent poles of the criminal justice system responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes, these institutions have undergone significant displacements that have reshaped criminal jurisdiction related to political corruption and organized crime," according to Arantes.

The first objective will result in "the most extensive and comprehensive picture of organized criminal activity in the country, especially political corruption," says the researcher. The second one will provide knowledge about the institutional and organizational bases of the control and justice agencies, he adds. "On the whole, the research project will require an interdisciplinary approach, mobilizing the areas of political science and law," says Arantes.

Eduardo Benedicto Ottoni - Perfil
Eduardo Benedicto Ottoni

A professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the IP, Ottoni has graduated in biological sciences, and became a master, a doctor and a lecturer in experimental psychology at USP. He has been a visiting professor at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and at the University of Kyoto. He has authored 58 articles in specialized journals and chapters in eight books. He has supervised nine doctoral theses and 15 master's theses.


"Evolutionary Approaches to Culture" is the theme of the research project to be developed by Eduardo Benedicto Ottoni, from USP's Institute of Psychology (IP), during his one-year stay at the IEA.

In studies on the use of tools by robust capuchin monkeys, Ottoni has investigated the role of social influences in the choices of different groups of these primates.

According to him, in some cases, the choices are "difficult to explain in terms of differences between habitats or genetic nature."

This perspective of understanding the peculiar behavioral repertoires to each population as "cultural" is part of a scenario that involves, among other things, "a proposal to reconsider the place of culture in evolutionary theory."

He points out that in recent years there has been increasing consistency, visibility and relevance in the debate to overcome the epistemological barriers between an evolutionary model that relegates cultural phenomena to a "proximal role ('extended phenotype')" and visions of culture as an "exclusively human process relatively disconnected from the evolutionary biology of the species."

José Renato de Campos Araújo
José Renato de Campos Araújo

In addition to being a professor at EACH's Public Policy Management Course, Araújo is a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Observatory for Public Policy at the same unit, where he develops the project of his sabbatical leave at the IEA. He has been a researcher at the Institute of Economic, Social and Political Studies of São Paulo (IDESP,) and of UNICAMP's Center for Population Studies (NEPO.) He was also a researcher at the José María Luis Mora Research Institute in Mexico City through the Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Chair. He holds a master's degree in sociology and a PhD in social sciences from the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences (IFCH) at UNICAMP.

*Regrettably, the professor did not even begin to develop his research project, having died on January 31, 2019.


During his sabbatical year at the IEA, José Renato de Campos Araújo, a professor at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH), will address the theme "Migrant Brazil: Population Flows, Public Policies and State Structures."

The intention is to map the bureaucratic-administrative structures existing in the federal government related to the migratory flows in Brazil - both the emigration of Brazilians and the immigration of foreigners - as well as the main characteristics of these structures' actions.

Araújo highlights the relevance of the subject in the social sciences, with Brazilian researchers having produced "a reasonable number of studies and projects in the area for at least two decades."

In his opinion, this is due to the migratory movements themselves, which have undergone important transformations in the last four decades.

"At the same time as new immigrants arrive in Brazil - as Latin Americans, Africans, Chinese, Koreans and other origins that did not yet make up the mosaic of ethnicities that mark the population of the country -, we become an important source of emigrants on the international stage."

Based on the studies carried out at EACH and on the work to be developed at the IEA, Araújo intends to create a series of research actions to understand the complete cycle (formulation, implementation and evaluation) of the public policies related to the migratory phenomenon in Brazil. "To a certain extent, the objective is to answer whether or not there has been a migratory policy in the country or only ad hoc state actions facing short-term problems."

Mauricio Pietrocola Pinto de Oliveira
Mauricio Pietrocola Pinto de Oliveira

A professor at the Department of Methodology of Teaching and Comparative Education at the School of Education since 2010, Oliveira began his teaching career in the same department in 2002. He holds a degree in physics from USP, having specialized in the history and epistemology of sciences at the University of Paris Diderot. He became a master in science education at USP, and a Ph.D.-holder in epistemology and history of science from the University of Paris Diderot. He has been a professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. He participates in the EU-funded research project Hope – Horizon 2020 in Physic Education.


Mauricio Pietrocola Pinto de Oliveira, from the School of Education (FE), will analyze the "Scientific Education in the Risk Society."

For him, one of the most sensitive impacts of globalization on social life is a diffused perception by individuals about the role of science and technology today. "In spite of the benefits that have been developed from science and technology to society - at least for people living in rich and industrialized regions -, such as increased life expectancy, clean water and basic sanitation, modernity has witnessed an increase in public anxiety and fragile confidence in the sciences."

According to Oliveira, German sociologist Ulrich Beck states in his 1986 book "Society of Risk: Towards a New Modernity" that modern social life is confronted with new forms of self-produced risks that challenge humanity. "This implies that living in a 'risk society' would be to assume a calculating attitude towards the possibilities of action, positive and negative, with which we are continually confronted." This confrontation impacts both on an individual level and on a global level, says the researcher.

During his sabbatical year at the IEA, Oliveira intends to address how this evaluation of the new modernity impacts the educational project in general and of scientific education in particular. The idea is to "suspend the perspectives contained in CTS (science, technology and society) approaches and scientific literacy, and advance the discussion on the challenges of contemporary scientific education."

Dennis de Oliveira - Perfil
Dennis de Oliveira

Oliveira is head of the Department of Journalism and Publishing at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA), where he joined the Journalism course as a professor in 2003. He has earned all his academic degrees from ECA. He also works as a professor and adviser in the Post-Graduate Program in Integration of Latin America (ECA,) and in the Post-Graduate Program in Social Change and Political Participation (EACH). He has also taught at the Methodist University of Piracicaba, at the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies, at Anhembi-Morumbi University, University of Mogi das Cruzes and Faculty of Valinhos.


For six months, Dennis de Oliveira will work on the research project "Insurgent Outskirts: the Culture and Communication Collectives in the Peripheries of São Paulo."

His objective is to reflect on the experiences of cultural and communication groups in the outlying districts of São Paulo, particularly those financed by official development programs.

The theoretical framework of the study is the culture of subaltern classes and cultural mediations developed by Latin American researchers influenced by Italian Marxist philosopher, politician and journalist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937.)

The research methodology foresees a mapping of cultural initiatives and the selection of projects for qualitative analysis.

The mapping of cultural actions will be done with digital tools and the use of data from projects financed by the São Paulo City Hall promotion programs, such as VAI (Valorization of Cultural Initiatives) and the Law to Promote Peripheries.

Projects from different regions will be selected, preferably, for the qualitative analysis. In them, the communicative processes used to disseminate and articulate the communities and the socioeconomic data of the region will be verified. This work will be complemented by interviews semi-structured with the leaders of the proposing groups with the objective of "checking the views built on communication and culture, on the region of operation and on the municipality."

Marco Antonio Bettine de Almeida - Perfil
Marco Antonio Bettine de Almeida

Graduated in physical education from UNICAMP and in law by PUC-Campinas, Almeida has become a doctor in leisure studies at UNICAMP and a full professor at EACH. He has conducted postdoctoral research in sports sociology at the University of Porto. In the last six years, he carried out four research projects: one on the relevance of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games as Brazilian soft power instruments; two on the influence of the main railroads and the Tietê River in the development of São Paulo football; and one on the applicability of quality of life and leisure programs in Brazil, developed by the city of Porto.


Marco Antonio Bettine de Almeida, also a professor at EACH, will resume his project "Soft Power: A Look at the Strategic Use of BRICS Hosting the FIFA World Cup - Analysis of South Africa, Brazil and Russia."

Almeida will analyze how South Africa, Brazil and Russia have increased their soft power. The reference will be the news on the events held in these countries that have been published by Le Monde, El País, and BBC.

In this analysis, he will try to establish the relations between the speeches of the three countries during the events in search of the increase of their soft power and what was actually reported by the international media.

The study will also seek to identify the relationship between the choice of the countries as hosts and the importance of BRICS as new players in the mega-sport events of the 21st century.

Almeida will examine the news focusing on the search for the increment of soft power from the categories of culture, political values and international politics defined by American political scientists Joseph Nye and Robert Keohane.


Photos (from the top): EP, FFLCH, IP, Leonor Calasans/IEA, FE, Leonor Calasans/IEA and EACH

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