Maria João Fernandes obtained her BSc and PhD in Agro-Industrial Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon. After graduation, she developed postgraduate research in microbial ecology and environmental risk assessment and was responsible for a microbiology laboratory in the quality control department of a meat processing company.

Fernandes started developing activities in the field of science administration in 2002, having spent four years working as a Research Programme Officer for the European Commission Directorate General for Research, initially in the ‘International Cooperation’ Directorate and later in the ‘Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food’ Directorate.

In 2008, Fernandes began working as a National Contact Point (NCP) and Expert for the ‘Health’ and ‘Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology’ themes of the 7th EU Research and Development Framework Programme (FP7). Currently, she is NCP and Expert for Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, giving support on ‘Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine and Maritime Research and the Bioeconomy’ (Pillar III, Societal Challenge 2) and ‘Biotechnology’ (Pillar II).