The College of Applied Science and Technology welcomed a fantastic group of new faculty at the start of this academic school year! Some of CAST’s newest faculty members took the time to answer a series of questions designed to help students and colleagues get to know them better. In this series of new faculty profiles, members of different departments share their background, research interests, hobbies, and more.

Starting off the series is Dr. Gabriela Fonseca Pereira, an assistant professor of interior design in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Tell us about your background—where are you from and where did you study?

“I am originally from Brazil! It has been five years since I moved to the U.S. I moved to the U.S. to pursue my Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University. Before that, I got my Bachelor’s degree from the Federal University of Pelotas in my hometown in Brazil. I got my Master’s degree from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, located at the capital of my state Porto Alegre, also in Brazil.”

What originally got you interested in your area of study?

“I work with Interior Design and Product Design and my focus is to help people through design—not just designing beautiful objects and interiors, but mostly focusing on functionality, usability, and safety. For the past ten years, I have been focusing on finding design solutions to help older adults towards aging-in-place. Most recently I have added Gerontechnology towards that goal! I started my interest after I realized that the older adults’ population is rapidly increasing around the world, and most people do not like being removed from home to live somewhere else. This is actually very sad, and I would like to do what I can to help to solve that.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

“I love seeing my students’ development. I love seeing them thrive! I really enjoy being in touch with my students, and even though we are all far apart because of the pandemic, I do all that I can to help them succeed, because seeing them proud of themselves is just amazing!”

Tell us about your research interests. Are there any items on the agenda you’d like to share?

“So, my research focuses on Gerontechnology and other housing solutions that promote aging-in-place. Falls among older adults are a big health issue, and there are different types of Gerontechnology to prevent, detect, and monitor falls at home and can call for help right away. Right now, my research focuses on understanding if older adults know, what they know, and their opinions about these types of gerontechnologies. In the future, I hope to be developing some solutions. During the pandemic, I have been interviewing older adults to try to understand how they are using technology to socialize in times of physical distancing! I have been interviewing people in the U.S. and in Brazil.”

What is one thing you want colleagues and students to know about you?

“I love traveling the world. I love different cultures, languages, and meeting new people from different places. That was my dream since I was very young. I was 24 years old when I traveled abroad for the first time. Well, I had been to Uruguay before, but Uruguay is so close to my hometown that doesn’t really count. I lived in Switzerland and England, and I traveled a lot by myself. Along the way, I met so many amazing people and I never felt alone when traveling. If you have a dream, go for it and don’t wait for someone else to join you. You are never too young or too old for that!”

Let’s answer a fun question not related to academia! What is your favorite type of food?

“Brazilian Food!! Brazilian food is amazing, and I miss that a lot! Every time I go there, I eat a lot! My favorites are the Brazilian Churrasco (kind of what you find at the Brazilian steak houses), the Bauru, which is a type of hot sandwich, but it is so tasty, and the sweets! My hometown Pelotas is famous for the sweets! My favorites are brigadeiro, camafeu, and panelinha de coco. Also, at my state, there’s a famous drink called Chimarrão—also common in Uruguay and Argentina. This is a social drink and it’s caffeinated. It’s good to have it with family and friends.”

How does it feel to become a Redbird?

“I am so happy to become a Redbird! So far, I have met the most helpful and generous people to work with. I am super excited and looking forward to being back on face-to-face mode!”

Interested in learning more about similar courses that Dr. Fonseca Pereira teaches? Check out the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences website for more information.