Portuguese Society of Microbiology
|I recall meeting Professor Nicolau van Uden as if it happened today. It was in 1976, in his office at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, when I had just begun to study wine yeasts. He asked me to sit in the chair in front of his desk, and without looking up from the text he was writing, asked me almost in an intimidating manner why I was interested in identifying the yeast strains I had isolated from wine. He surprised and embarrassed me with this question, as I didn’t have a good answer. This was the beginning of a 15 year long relationship which greatly marked me and my career as a microbiologist. Throughout my doctoral tenure, Prof van Uden taught me to be exact in the laboratory, to not deviate from the objectives at hand, and to overcome daily difficulties. At times, I had to study for many hours in order to be able to answer one of his astute questions. Although a quiet man, his scientific enthusiasm was evident, for as soon as he had an adequate answer to one of his questions, another question would arise. In conclusion, Prof van Uden personifies a great scientist, for whom the importance of intelligent questions and rigorous scientific approaches were fundamental.