Lives… people… and stories! Each voice matters! A blog series where our storytellers share their own version of the story. Take a seat, grab a drink and enjoy the ride!

Gustavo Telles, physiotherapist and PhD student who studies at Augusto Motta University Centre (UNISUAM), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is our storyteller. Today’s topic? International experience during the PhD.


Check Gustavo’s welcome video here 


Who are you and what are your hobbies?

I am a physiotherapist, who likes music, sports, and nature. I am a passionate musician, and I regularly play electric bass. I like playing soccer and running. Also, I love hiking because the path usually takes you to a great view/landscape.


How and when did you get to where you are now?

It started when I was at the university (physiotherapy degree). I had to read scientific papers to better understand the rationale and clinical reasoning behind rehabilitation and intervention programmes, as well as which evidence-based approaches to choose to apply in clinical settings. Then, I became fascinated with how much I was learning from peer-reviewed physiotherapy journals. Because of that, I became a member of a scientific group of physiotherapy students.

After I finished my undergraduate degree as a physiotherapist, I started working and at the time did not know much about research. But I thought that one day I would like to be involved in research. After seven years, I decided to expand my knowledge and enrolled in a master degree. Since then, the dream to learn more about research in physiotherapy and subsequently the idea to go to Australia and learn with the researchers from there increased – I often read papers from their research centres.

A few years ago, when I started my PhD, I had the fantastic opportunity to apply for funding from the Brazilian government. This provided me the opportunity to spend several months abroad, and of course my choice was La Trobe University in Australia. I must confess it was a long process, and it was only possible due my tireless efforts and the support of my supervisor.


When you started, did you expect to get to where you are now?

I would say no. During my master degree, I was focused on learning scientific methods and finishing my experiments. Then, I collaborated in musculoskeletal research and started going deeper into it, which caught my interest. I realised that research in the physiotherapy field is a massive “sea of opportunities”, and I became fascinated with connecting and networking with people, other researchers and clinicians. At the end of the day, life is about relationships!


What was the (a) hardest struggle and (b) biggest highlight during this path. How did you prepare for this?

After working for some years as a clinician, it was a huge challenge to start from scratch on a scientific path, since my background was primarily as a clinician. Indeed, it is always hard to try something new. It took time to become used to a new and different routines and to recognise the progress I was making. Moreover, I became a more organised person with the regular challenge of a healthy work-family balance. On the other hand, I have been fortunate enough with a lot of good moments. The opportunity I had months ago, to live in another country (Australia), experiencing a different way of life in a completely different culture, and working close with some of the greatest names of research in my field was such an inspiring and fascinating life experience.


Based on your own story, what is the top advice to inspire others?

No matter how big and challenging your project is, you can ask for advice from people (known as experts) you admire, and even if you feel you are not 100% prepared for a specific task, you have to try it. After you try something new, you will realise you have more skills than you previously thought.


Let us know what is your next professional step…

Since I am halfway through my PhD, currently my focus is to finish my PhD studies related to running and then to complete this chapter of my life with the PhD thesis. I would like to continue to have the opportunity to work in research and to do something with a considerable scientific impact in our society. But for now, I am really enjoying this moment to expanding my professional knowledge about running.

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