Rafael Braz Reboucas Lourenço
Spotlight Story

Rafael Braz Reboucas Lourenço
Using satellite and high-altitude platforms to alleviate the impact of disasters in communication networks

Rafael Braz Rebouças Lourenço is pursuing his Ph.D. at the Networks Laboratory in the UC Davis Computer Science Department. He is a determined, communicative and enthusiastic person who loves practicing sports, getting in touch with nature and learning new things. He is an engaged and committed engineer with tolerance for workload, a focus on results, and strong analytical skills. Lourenço completed his telecommunications engineering major at the University of Brasília; during his time there, he interned at diverse companies, startups and public offices. After graduating, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he worked for two years for the telecom multinational Alcatel-Lucent. During these various experiences, Lourenço was involved in many areas of technology and businesses. Upon being awarded the Brazilian government’s Science Without Borders scholarship, he moved to Davis and embarked on his doctoral program.

In a nutshell, describe your project or venture. 

I am developing a technique to help relief communication networks after the onset of disasters. Using aerial communication platforms as a backup medium, this technique provides a fast, distributed and assured data transmission plan that achieves the shortest conceivable evacuation time while avoiding resource deadlocks.

What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?

Disasters are one of the most challenging scenarios humanity faces nowadays. This is due to the typical lack of preparedness of many societies for these types of events. Although reliable communication capabilities are one of the key assets that allow for effective post-disaster relief actions, communication networks are one of the main infrastructures affected in the majority of disasters. I hope to make the technology I am developing useful for governments and disaster relief agencies and institutions to help society be better prepared for these situations.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

While my work has a considerable appeal with regards to the improvement of the quality of life for many societies, I am most passionate about the challenges it presents. Creating a solution that effectively solves this problem involves many state-of-the -art concepts and gives me the chance to use some interesting tools while doing so.

What was the most important thing you learned at the UC Entrepreneurship Academy?

Both to focus on the problem, not the solution, and to confine myself to the facts. Even though these concepts were related to an entrepreneurial environment, I find that they are frequently useful in academia. 

What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?

To focus myself on big problems.

How has participation in the Big Bang! workshops and business competition helped you as an aspiring or early-stage entrepreneur?

Both the workshops and participating in the competition have helped a lot by giving me insight as to how the entrepreneurial environment operates, what documents to prepare and how, how the general lifecycle of a startup works and more.

The Keller Pathway Fellowship Program specifically supports women, cross-disciplinary researchers and other underrepresented university-based entrepreneurs. As an (aspiring) entrepreneur in one or more of these communities, do you have any insight, experience or concern you’d like to share?

I find that these underrepresented communities are getting a bigger and bigger voice every day. Nevertheless, it is still very important not to be afraid to show your face and speak out loud about your ideas.

How will your experiences as a Keller Pathway Fellow help you to change the world?

I am certain that the experiences I accumulate during this program will help me not only in my academic life, but in my professional life as well. In fact, I already have a plan laid out regarding a startup idea that I will be moving forward with in the close future.