Sofia Franco

Thank yooooouu so so much :) really cannot believe it! My fellow scientists were really outstanding :) happy I was part of such an impressive team!

Favourite Thing: Ask questions! And to discover new things! Love to walk in the rocks on the beach and look for different species or try to discover where they are! Also love to “visit” animals we have put living in nature to see how they are doing!



Univeristy of Lisbon; University of the Algarve; Lehigh University; University of Bergen; Newcastle Unniversity


BSc in Biology (specialization in Marine Biology); MSc in Aquaculture and Fisheries (specialization in Aquaculture)

Work History:

I have worked with crustaceans, as copepods and barnacles, in Portugal, Norway and in the UK, investigating how to keep them in captivity. I have some work experience in aquacultures, as well as teaching and doing science communication (love it!)….but being a scientist keeps wining so far!

Current Job:

I am a Marine Biologist :) !!! Now I am a PhD student in Marine Science and Technology


Newcastle University and University of Évora

Me and my work

I am a marine biologist and I try to learn how to make marine creatures happy ;) now I work with stalked barnacles called Pollicipes! Check them out!

Sometimes marine species are menaced in their environments and they need a little help to survive! If we understand how they live and which conditions they like we can not only have them growing happily in aquariums, but we can also protect the ones that live in the wild!

I work with tiny stalked barnacles that are eaten in Portugal and Spain (yes, eaten!!! Apparently they are very tasty too!), trying to convince them to  grow in our aquariums, so that they are so happy that they will mate and reproduce with each other (yes, they need to get it going!!!)…and we can have zillions of baby new ones! I then investigate how to make the little ones happy…so that they will become big adults that are happy and like staying in our aquariums! But this is nooooooooooot easy at all….they are very very temperamental and can be very moody, just liking very specific conditions that are really difficult to find! They like strong currents, bubbling water, just specific types of microalgae (yes, microalgae! It is algae, but just way way smaller!) or little shrimps, warm water (but not too warm!)…and unfortunately they cannot say what they want, so we need to discover by ourselves! It is madness to understand what they want, but when they are happy, they are really happy and they will be eat, grow, move around (yes, they move! Very slowly, but they can change position!), mate (oh, yes…they will look for friends and …) and then they will release hundreds of babies to the water! The babies are really tiny and will swim around until they find someplace they like, and then they get stuck to it (yes, like glue! But way way stronger! It is really hard to remove them!) and moult (yes, they will change their shape into looking like the adults! A bit odd, but really cool!)…and then they will grow to adults and all starts again!

My Typical Day

There are no typical days in biology! You can be all day doing experiments in the laboratory… or writing scientific articles….or be in the aquariums with the animals…or in the computer just looking at hundreds of data….or teaching…or in nature checking the animals or doing experiments….or presenting at conferences….anything is possible!

What I'd do with the money

Well I had no idea at first…but after starting the chat sessions I think the best thing to do is to use the money organize a few visits to schools and make a few science days! We could talk about science, maybe take some animals with us and do some activities!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Curious….funny….and happy!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

From 30 Seconds to Mars, to Nickelback, to loads rappers, to cuban music…whatever makes me feel the flow!

What's your favourite food?

Desserts!!!!…specially if they have chocolate! Lots of chocolate! Or ice cream! Love Lasagna too!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Rollercoasters :) halloween & carnival parties :) doing rappel and kayaking in a wild river! Or weeks of fun and adventure with friends ;) !

What did you want to be after you left school?

Veterinary, to a crazy scientist, journalist, archaeologist, biologist….everything that involved either animals or trying to solve mysteries!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Uhhmmmmm….that is classified information! (Most of the time I was peaceful!)

What was your favourite subject at school?

Science, of course! Also loved field classes and the trips! I hated everything that was boring!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Chasing lizards for a week to try to learn how many they were was for sure the funniest! But I love to tell people about science ;) and show all the “micro-creatures” around and see how people get amazed!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

No idea….but I was always intrigued about it and always wanted to do something that was useful to the world! When the time came to choose, I thought “why not”?

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Something interesting! Maybe archaeologist or veterinary! My plan was to try all the professions and see which one I liked more :)

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Travel travel travel!!! Try all types of sports and radical activities….and…the last wish I would save it for an emergency (who knows!) or offer to someone else….two would surely be enough!

Tell us a joke.

What did one hat say to another? You stay here, I’ll go on a head!

Other stuff

Work photos:

We have loads of stuff in our labs!

These are the ones I work with! Adults of stalked barnacles 🙂 called Pollicipes pollicipes they live attached to rocks. myimage1 This is me getting them from the coast and all the other animals and algae that you can find around them! myimage5 And this is when we were trying to discover more about how they reproduce and when they release the babies! myimage8

These are baby stalked barnacles, myimage2 they are called nauplii and cyprid and can swim around until they find a place to live! These are the different stages they will pass, as their body changes shape and grows!

We also have microalgae (in the carboys), macroalgae (as Ulva, in the middle) and also baby microalgae (as the Ulva spores, in the right). myimage3

There are also anemones (left), hermit crabs and mussels (right)! myimage4

As well as tube worms (left) and sea cucumbers (right)!  myimage6

Plus other barnacles, called acorn barnacles, that you can find on the coast!  myimage7

There are loads more but no space to put them all!