The story goes that on my first trip to the beach, still a toddler, I sneakily crawled straight into the water, ‘encouraging’ my dad to take an unforeseen rescue dip into the rough and cold North Atlantic! Since then, my relationship with the Ocean has evolved from attraction to love, boldness to humbleness and admiration to awe.
Originally from Porto in Portugal, I pursued this early curiosity with the natural world, and particularly a fascination with sea turtles, by studying Biology at University of Madeira. I then returned to Porto in 1999 to study Pharmaceutical Sciences and worked there as a qualified pharmacist. I loved the contact with the community and how I could make a difference in people’s lives. However, my love for science led me to the UK in 2006, and back to the lab, to pursue a Masters and then a PhD in the biology of ageing. I earned a doctorate from the University of London where my research focused on finding specific biomarkers for a particular pathway of senescence in skin cells. Then, I worked on developing cell culture models in which to study mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis; in particular how Nickel causes cells to bypass senescence towards cancer.
Alongside the love for science, a passion for sports and physical expression has always been a constant in my life. After being introduced to gymnastics at an early age, I spent my fun time as a teen playing water polo and surfing. Whilst at university I competed in martial arts, against both men and women, and was National and Iberian champion in the Brazilian art of Capoeira for 3 years in a row. In 2006, I became the first Portuguese woman in my group to receive the belt to teach. Over the following decade I found my way from injury into Yoga and now, at 37 years old, I am a yoga teacher dedicated to generating a positive impact in my students lives.
Constança graduated in marine biology in Portugal and she has been working with marine and coastal ecosystem management ever since. Holding a Masters Degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of São Paulo, her life path has led her to bridge between science, policy and society keeping sustainability at its core.
She is currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark working on marine issues at the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA is a European public institution that supports environmental and climate policy implementation and assessments. Contaminants and marine litter are part of her core work. She is also leading a citizen science project to collect data on beach litter throughout Europe – Marine LitterWatch. Synchronicities and a great desire to grab opportunities and dive into the unknown have led her to join eXXpedition. An adventure Constança decided to take in her personal time, as she sees it as a unique opportunity to reconnect to the sea and herself. She also hopes to gain live insight about the interconnection between healthy seas and human well-being – and be inspired to take it to new realms! The sea is her passion and also one of her greatest fears. Her life drivers are love, family, friends, good times and trying to make the world she can touch a better place for all.
Eliana is the kind of person who believes we can all make a difference with our actions and positive change.
She was born in Porto, and it was in Portugal that she lived most of her life, where she first paid attention to this problem. She completed her masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2013 and her concern for public health and the toxic effects of micro plastics in our body are increasingly manifesting itself.
Besides her interest in science, research, nature and all living things, she recently discovered a new passion: scuba diving. Her passion for diving strengthened her relationship with the ocean and she wants to understand more about it. Since she is living in Macau, China, she took a dip in the Pacific and Indian Ocean and from that moment on she saw the magnitude of the problem of plastic pollution, becoming aware of how it affects marine life, like sea turtles, fishes, whales, coral reefs and countless other marine species and habitats.