FGV EMAp student takes part at international Artificial Intelligence conferences

Maria Eduarda Mesquita Magalhães had the opportunity to participate in very important events in the area in Mexico and the United Kingdom in the first quarter.

In the first three months of 2024, Maria Eduarda Mesquita Magalhães, from Ceará, a student of the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence course at the School of Applied Mathematics at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV EMAp), has already represented the institution in two important international congresses in the area. Her participation in events in Mexico and the United Kingdom, in the first quarter of the year, was due to her extensive knowledge in the field of Artificial Intelligence and its functionalities.

Maria Eduarda Mesquita Magalhães na EAGxLATAM, no México - Foto: Arquivo pessoal

Maria Eduarda Mesquita Magalhães at EAGxLATAM, in Mexico - Photo: Personal archive


Maria Eduarda was selected by the organizing committee of EAGxLATAM, a conference aimed at strengthening ties within the Effective Altruism community in Mexico and Latin America.

“Effective Altruism represents a field of research dedicated to identifying the most pressing problems in the world and finding the most effective solutions to address them. Formalized by scholars at the University of Oxford, today this movement extends to more than 70 countries. Its fundamental principle lies in impartiality and global equality when considering the interests of beneficiaries”, explains the Ceará native.

At the congress on Mexican soil, Maria Eduarda was able to attend lectures, workshops and discussion panels led by local and international speakers. Several prominent topics were addressed in the areas of health, animal welfare, existential risks, global development and social inequality, with alignment and management, of course, of Artificial Intelligence.

Maria Eduarda says that, in addition to its educational and informative nature, “the conference proved to be an extraordinary networking platform, bringing together researchers, professionals and enthusiasts who share the common objective of maximizing positive social impact in their careers and philanthropic contributions. This event not only enriched my understanding of Effective Altruism, but also strengthened essential connections to drive future initiatives aimed at using Artificial Intelligence to promote the reduction, not the increase, of inequalities on the planet.”

A few days later, the young woman left for the United Kingdom for another international conference. The destination was Athena, a program aimed at helping women improve their knowledge and skills in Artificial Intelligence, and also expand their networks of contacts who need research.

Estadia em Oxford, no Reino Unido, durou uma semana - Foto: Arquivo pessoal

Stay in Oxford, United Kingdom, lasted a week - Photo: Personal archive

Athena aims to provide mentoring opportunities to technically qualified women beginning their AI security research career or who wish to transition into the field, connecting them with experienced mentors, resources to enhance their skills, networking, and a supportive community.

“I was chosen specifically for my exceptional skills and promising potential to contribute significantly to crucial research on Artificial Intelligence security (words from the organizer, Claire Short)”, reports the FGV EMAp student.

The event in the United Kingdom was attended by other students and researchers from renowned institutions around the world, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the famous Universities of Berkeley, Brown, Oxford, Stanford and Harvard.

Maria Eduarda was the only Latin American present and represented Brazil and the School. “I had the privilege of meeting with people involved in AI security research and policy such as Nora Ammann, Marius Hobbhahn, Elliott Thornley, Lewis Hammond, Alan Chan, Rebecca Gorman, and others to hear about their work and receive guidance from career”, she highlights. 

From Ceará to the world

Maria Eduarda is from Fortaleza. During her adolescence, she was a scholarship student at a private school in the capital of Ceará and was able to receive a high level of education. Consequently, the student was often among the best in the special class focused on the Science Olympiads and was preparing for the most competitive entrance exams in Brazil.

Due to the preparation, there was no shortage of opportunities to choose where to graduate. However, it was at FGV EMAp where she found the possibility of realizing a dream: combining the areas of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence with Social Sciences. Her objective is to work on the development of public policies with the application of Artificial Intelligence to reduce social inequalities, through data analysis to obtain better overviews of Brazilian social problems.

Another factor that made her choose the School was identifying that the institution had resources to invest in her knowledge, with an infrastructure capable of helping and improving mathematical and programming skills. “With this in mind, I sent my resume to the Center for the Development of Mathematics and Sciences (CDMC) and was selected to participate in the Talent Selection program. I took the entrance exam, passed and now I'm taking FGV's name to the world”, says the student.

Passion for challenge

Maria Eduarda's interest in the Exact Science field arose early, due to her passion for challenges. “If there was something that was difficult, I had to try it,” she jokes. It was based on her experience in Science Olympiads during high school that she created the foundations of knowledge in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. The Programming area was new, but also a new challenge that didn't scare her.

Early on, the woman from Ceará realized the transformative potential of the Data Science area for the most diverse sectors and, therefore, opted for a career in this emerging field, with rapid growth and great possibilities.

Moving to Rio de Janeiro to follow this dream was not an easy task, especially with the insecurities and difficulties of being a woman in this field. However, with new friends and a new course that required her to study more, things started to make sense. Mainly with the inspiration transmitted by the teachers.

“In the midst of so much insecurity, meeting teachers Asla Medeiros de Sá, Maria Soledad Aronna, Maria Izabel Camacho and Sonia Durães was a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence. Never before had she been a student of teachers teaching high-level Mathematics and Programming. They were a beacon of inspiration amidst so many insecurities. I arrived at my second year of college as a completely different woman than my first year. They paved the way for me and others to move forward, and I am extremely grateful for that”, declares Maria Eduarda.

Maria Eduarda com outras participantes do Athena Program em Oxford, no Reino Unido - Foto: Arquivo pessoal

Maria Eduarda with other participants of the Athena Program in Oxford, United Kingdom - Photo: Personal archive

As inspiration, she also mentions her friends Mariana, Paula and Ana Júlia, thanking them and stating that “there is a lot of them in my achievements”. Even though I love challenges, one of them cannot be solved with calculations and data: the male predominance in the exact area.

Maria Eduarda reports that the majority of students and teachers are men and that such environments cause additional pressure on the few female representatives.

“Men are much more confident, they take more risks, while we are very afraid. At least I do, and I fight it daily. I tell myself that that place is for me, yes. But we question every step taken, every word spoken. We are already a minority and, sometimes, we are not even taken seriously. Our mistake has a much greater weight than that of a man. It’s a difficult burden to bear, but we continue to build a support network for those who continue in the fight and for the next ones to come,” she explains.

Her future - and Data Science’s

Despite the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated environment, Maria Eduarda believes that they will play a fundamental role in the area by bringing unique perspectives, distinct skills and a collaborative approach that enriches the area of Programming and drives innovation.

“We need to use data to tell our story and tell about our reality. We are the majority of the population and we continue to be underrepresented in the Brazilian parliament, this never made sense to me. We need to equip ourselves with technical knowledge to study more and more about our reality, so that we can transform it”, argues the FGV EMAp student.

Maria Eduarda states that the field of Data Science is the profession of the future, as all courses are interested in learning something from this area, especially with Artificial Intelligence being the current topic on the planet.

“Everywhere we find data. The ability to extract information from large volumes of data will be one of the most in-demand skills in the future. And this course gives you the advantage of being able to move into various areas of knowledge. For example: I love chemistry and social sciences, I study them in my free time. With Data Science I can work in one area as well as the other. I love the freedom that this course gives me to be able to work in the most diverse areas of knowledge”, she concludes.

Talent Selection

The CDMC was created by FGV in 2017 with the purpose of identifying, in the country's public schools, young talents for learning Mathematics in order to offer them the possibility of studying in the institution's undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Rio de Janeiro.

Students are invited to take the FGV entrance exam in any undergraduate course that the institution offers: Applied Mathematics, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Economic Sciences, Administration, Social Sciences, Law and Digital Communication.

In the six years of the initiative, approximately 420 students with excellent performance and medalists in Mathematics competitions and Olympiads were included.


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