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To the Internet’s benefit

Biologist Rafael Bento has traded in his career as a researcher for one involving science education and outreach online

personal archivesRafael Bento received a degree in biology from São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rio Claro campus, in 2004. He had planned to follow a career in molecular biology, a field which was booming in the state of São Paulo at the time due to the success of a genome project involving the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. Along the way, however, he became involved in another field: science education and outreach.

After graduating, Bento moved from the São Paulo countryside to the city and began his PhD program at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of São Paulo (ICB-USP). During graduate school, he worked developing viral vector-mediated gene transfer to induce tumor cell death in the Laboratory of Genetics and Molecular Cardiology at the Heart Institute (INCOR) of the University of São Paulo.

He received his doctorate in 2011, at the age of 29. Way back in 2006, however, he was already working with science outreach initiatives. “While in graduate school, I created a blog called RNAm​, in which I wrote about topics involving molecular biology,” he explains. He soon realized that, to address these topics, he first needed to introduce basic biological concepts to his readers. “People either didn’t understand what I wrote, or they misunderstood it,” he recalls. “As I practiced explaining science more clearly, I became more interested in education.”

In 2007, RNAm became part of Lablogatórios, a network of Brazilian science blogs that later gave rise to the ScienceBlogs Brazil network. In addition to the blog, Bento began his post-doctorate studies at the Brazilian National Psychiatric Institute for Childhood and Adolescent Development (INPD), a member of the Brazilian National Institutes for Science and Technology (INCT). With the completion of his postdoctoral studies in 2012, he decided to abandon his academic career to work exclusively with science outreach. With an invitation from biologist Mauro de Freitas Rebelo, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and his colleague at ScienceBlogs Brazil, Bento moved to Rio de Janeiro to work on creating scientific content for mobile educational platforms for the Edumobi education network, part of the Somos Educação group.

In 2014, he also became the administrator of ScienceBlogs Brazil. More recently, he and other colleagues founded Numinalabs, a company specialized in producing educational content for digital marketing activities. The company’s main clients include corporations such as Natura and Bayer. Last year, he helped to launch ScienceVlogs Brazil, a network of YouTube channels that produces content on science and technology. Since then, Bento, who now lives in the city of Campinas, São Paulo, has been producing content for his own YouTube channel, Jornal Ciensacional.

In 2017 and in addition to these activities, Bento became a health and biological sciences consultant for the production of teaching materials for Kroton Educacional, the largest private company in basic and higher education in Brazil.