Marilia Coutinho

Independent Scholar

Academic Coach Athlete Researcher Writer Record Holder

About Me

Marilia Coutinho (USA/Brazil) is an independent scholar with a multi-disciplinary background: she earned her Ph.D. in sociology of science (1994) after an M.S. in chemical ecology (1989) and a B.Ss. (1985) in the American equivalent of a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.

Her alma mater is the University of São Paulo. Her past research ranged from parasites membrane proteins and host-parasite molecular interaction to designing institutional technology transfer agencies, and health, science and technology public policy.

My Experience

  • Researcher, professor, and now independent scholar with a multi-disciplinary background in the natural and social sciences with 30 years of college teaching and research experience
  • Social scientist with 15 years of experience in writing and advising in the field of mental health/suffering and physical activity, suicide and rape.
  • Researcher, team leader and technical writer with 28 years of experience in developing research projects, from design, strategic planning, state-of-the-art assessment, team construction and leading, project management and translating results into products for final users in the health sciences.

My Skills

Technical Writer

 Experienced technical writer for a variety of audiences and information needs, ranging from academic papers, technical reports, popular science articles and many others. Technical writing in strength training and powerlifting since 2007.

Research design and management

Designed all research projects conducted, from early conception to detailed strategies.

Leadership, Team Building & Team Management

Selected junior researchers, organized team building strategies, advised students and was principal investigator in a number of government and private foundation grant projects.

Innovative solutions for corporations

Devised creative information solutions for different corporations, during product development, consumer assessment and others.

Independent Scholar/Innovator

Started own business in 2005 and developed research and information solutions for a variety of needs, ranging from electoral research, public policy (especially health policy), the fitness market and the food market. Recently, created continued education courses, and offers consultancy in strength training.

Profesional Experience Summary

2013 – present

MC Academic Researh and Training LLC (owner): publishing, teaching, and webinars in exercise and mental health, suicide and rape; continued education programs in strength training, consultancy to gyms (client retention, program design), online coaching and coach supervision. Consultancy to health professionals (literature review on drugs, mechanisms of action, pathologic conditions, and report, problem-solving strategies). Academic peer-reviewed publishing, maintaining regular article columns in publishing outlets, advocacy writing. Focus on suicide, autism, obesity, and strength training.

2005 – 2017

Merton MZM Consultoria em Pesquisa (owner): qualitative market research projects, critical analysis, conferences and workshops in the health sciences. Main clients: BIREME, Political organizations, VN Promoções e eventos, PPA gastronomia. Graduate teaching on a diversity of health and training related topics.


University of São Paulo: Research project – Assessment of the Biotechnology Research Potential of Amazonian Research Institutes and Higher Education Organizations. Published articles about Chagas Disease, biopiracy and bioprospection.


University of São Paulo: Research project – Intellectual property rights and biological research in Brazil. Lead and advised a group of student research assistants, published peer reviewed articles and reports. Served the faculty community, advising it on intellectual property matters, and created the projects of two technology transfer agencies.


University of São Paulo: Research project – Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Brazil. Lead and advised a group of student research assistants, published peer reviewed articles and reports.


Visiting Professor at the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida, United States). Developed and taught the course “History and sociology of science, technology and medicine in Latin America”; published peer-reviewed articles about Chagas Disease in several periodicals; studied, published and presented results in international conferences about prostate cancer policy-making.


Visiting Professor at the University of Brasilia (Brasilia, Brazil). Developed the first mandatory online course at the UnB; developed and taught the course “Science, technology and government”.


University of São Paulo. Research project: Scientific Excellence in Brazil.


University of São Paulo. Research project: The institutionalization of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Brazil.


University of São Paulo. Research project: History of Research in Chagas Disease

Marilia has been a columnist for elitefts since 2016. In this timeframe, it's been wonderful working with her. Marilia's extensive wealth of knowledge and robust research skills (in an array of topics) has produced more than 60 pieces on the site. She marries statistics with personal experiences beautifully and it's ultimately her educational approach.
Sheena Leedham, M.Ed.
Managing Editor at
I have known Marilia for some decades now, although our contacts were less frequent than I would like to. We met as undergraduate students in the Biology course of University of São Paulo. Later on, we interacted several times in the academic environment, usually around subjects related to the philosophy and sociology of science, transdisciplinarity, and coproduction of knowledge. I have no doubt Marilia has one of the sharpest minds I know. Her broad academic background, her sharp analytical skills, and her strong democratic values are addicting for those struggling to help make the world a better place.
Dr. Pedro Luís Bernardo da Rocha
I met Marilia when, after concluding her studies in biological sciences, she approached me willing to write a doctoral dissertation in sociology of sciences, on tropical medicine and the discovery of Chagas disease in Brazil. Since then, Marilia never ceased do surprise me by her brilliance, breath of knowledge and the intensity and courage with which she approaches whatever she does, in sports, political participation, study, writing, debating and dealing with the dilemmas of personal life. She is force of nature, and I it is wonderful to be her friend.
Simon Schwartzman

Latest Articles

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How I can Help you

Need help with research? Marilia is here. Looking to get stronger? Let Marilia show you the way.

Research Consultancy

A reliable and experienced research consultant who can help you with your research needs.

Strength Coaching Service

Achieve your strength training goals with a customized training program designed specifically for you.

Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Academic Research & Training FAQ

According to the National Coalition for Independent Scholars, the “NCIS welcomes people who are pursuing knowledge in or across any fields whose credentials demonstrate an active involvement in independent scholarship in any field, as evidenced by advanced degrees or presentations/publications. Further qualification is that the scholar not be employed on a full-time basis by an academic institution or other organization in the field to which their independent scholarly activity pertains. Graduate students intent on pursuing independent scholarship, adjunct faculty, and others tangentially associated with academic institutions who do not receive financial support for their scholarly activities are eligible.”

Independent scholars are frequently active in consulting, or have their own research and/or training company. Several of us obtain funding for our research, which we may conduct in partnership with affiliated colleagues or not.

We can solve the same problems as our affiliated colleagues, and sometimes more: given that we are not affiliated, we are not committed with third parties’ agendas, which frequently stand in the way of academic freedom.

We tend to be better suited for the role of a “go-between” when the problem to be solved involves negotiating approaches, project format and expected results between the academic institutions proper and non-academic communities. For that reason, we make very good “knowledge brokers”.

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A technical/scientific review is an assessment of the state of the art in a given field, topic, method or school of thought, based on a systematic compilation, curation and critical analysis of that issue’s peer-reviewed published material, with an emphasis on the coverage of the most recent published evidence.

Businesses (for business plans, reports or strategic decisions), periodicals, publishing outlets, teaching institutions, non-profit organizations, and professionals (physicians, lawyers, etc).

Research is usually divided into “quantitative” and “qualitative” research. Quantitative research is supported data analysis of either previously quantified collected material, or it may also involve the collection of quantitative data (as in surveys).

Qualitative research is supported by data collected from in-depth interviews, ethnography (both presencial and digital), focus groups, participant-observation activity other than ethnography, documental analysis, among other sources. Methods include discourse analysis, and anthropological and sociological approaches in general.

Most companies eventually need both quantitative and qualitative market research to support decisions in product development and business strategy.

Interdisciplinarians are not a new kind. Actually, before science was fragmented into a myriad of disciplines, most institutionalized sciences involved integrating approaches and mastering different methods, as well as studying several subjects. One such example is Natural History, which, today, would involve Biology, Geology, Geography, Chemistry and some parts of Physics. I am an interdisciplinarian because I have advanced learning in several sciences, and I learned how to integrate them. And here is a tricky issue: not all people with multiple educational backgrounds integrate them. Many simply abandon one completely before immersing themselves in the other. These would be “individuals with a multi-disciplinary background”, and not interdisciplinarians.

These are some of the courses I taught and their respective levels. Anyone offering educational services covering the levels for each course can hire me. Those specified as undergraduate or graduate level courses will be of interest to universities. Courses identified as “continued education” may be of interest also to universities, but also sports clubs, gyms, and other organizations that provide, continually or not, educational/training services.

  • History and Philosophy of Science (undergraduate level, usually offered to STEM students)
  • Scientific methodology (undergraduate level, usually offered to STEM students)
  • Ecology (intro to, ecosystems ecology, chemical ecology - undergraduate level)
  • Environmental Sociology (undergraduate and graduate levels)
  • History and Sociology of Science and Medicine in Latin America (undergraduate and graduate levels)
  • Science, Technology and Government (undergraduate and graduate levels, offered at the Department of International Relations of the University of Brasilia)
  • Science and Technology policy


  • Strength training methods (undergraduate level and/or continued education)
  • Strength and conditioning research (graduate level)
  • History of strength training and sports (undergraduate level and/or continued education)
  • Basic foundations of Strength (continued education)
  • Movement segmentation and assistance exercises - partials and other barbell exercises (continued education)
  • Strength and stability: assistance exercises - with equipment: bands, chains, boards, etc. (continued education)
  • Periodization (continued education)
  • Grip Training (continued education)
  • Odd objects training (continued education)


A position paper is an essay or report in support of a certain argument or position. It requires taking a methodologically solid inventory of the “state of the art” of a given field. This is a specific need from companies in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food, cosmetic, biotechnology industries, as well as the health sector and non-profit organizations. I provided this type of product to compounding pharmacies, sports supplement companies, and multi-specialty clinics.

Strength Training consulting FAQ

Anyone can ask me random questions about anything. Certain classes of questions can be answered very easily and fast because they don’t require a literature review. There is no cost for an answer to those. Most questions, however, do require some digging into the most recent evidence-based publications of one or more fields. The amount of time required for this part of the job is a factor in the final price. This is also dependent on the “number of dots” that need to be connected to reach an acceptable answer.

Finally, some questions can only be answered with a full report.

“Is lifting dangerous to children and adolescents?” => No cost

“How does creatine help vegan people?” => The cost will depend on how deep you need me to go to satisfy your information/education need. You will receive a simple answer free of charge, if not for anything, so that we both can establish what you actually need

“I received diagnosis ‘x’ and I was instructed to adopt an aggressive nutritional approach to it. What is the structure of such an approach and how do I organize timing and medication around it?” => This question can only be answered with a detailed report, based on a careful examination of the most recent medical literature on the subject. It can help both the patient and the dietitian/nutritionist: it is not a request for a diet plan, but for the foundations or structure of a therapeutic dietetic intervention. That’s right in my alley. Depending on what the diagnosis was and the level of controversy/consensus in related fields, the report will be more or less time consuming.

“Why have I stopped making progress in my lifting and what training program would help me overcome my issues?” => These are two questions bundled together: first, what are the causes for the observed strength plateau. That can be an extremely easy, no-cost question or not, but the answer will let you know whether we dig deeper or not. Second, what training program can change this situation. That’s not as straightforward as the first question. Besides that, it is possible that the progress plateau is related to several issues that affect performance, but are not training-related. For example, considering only nutrition, strength gain can be affected by calorie consumption, food timing, and food intolerances. It can also be related to stress, sleep, emotional state or even goal structure. Again, digging deeper and how deep will affect the price. If the request involves a training program, that’s also another cost.

Video analysis lets me watch the same issue as many times as I need. Sometimes, an imbalance, technique or instability issue is subtle, sometimes it is a sequence of unwanted events during the lift, and sometimes it is random. I can only spot the problem and devise a solution by watching the same take as many times as needed and comparing that take with others. Direct observation of the lift/lifter is instructive, of course, and sometimes indispensable but the video analysis provides information that cannot be obtained by direct observation alone.

A training program is a detailed plan for a given period, and according to desired time-sensitive effects. A program includes a strategy (in time), a periodization structure, and specific, daily routines (training sessions). Different coaches have different periodization approaches, even when they don’t know what periodization means. Understanding the concepts (training fundamentals) underlying all three components of a program makes the difference between one that was elaborated for you (an individualized prescription), and a cookie-cutter program.

Online coaching involves online programming and a lot more. Online coaching is coaching, and it involves creating an online program, changing it, adapting it to circumstances, monitoring progress, advising and analyzing technique development, among other things. An online program is materialized on a spreadsheet. Online coaching involves intense communication using digital means: email, messaging, video calls, training videos, and reports.

An interdisciplinary coaching approach is a project involving collaborating professionals. My minimalist approach involves a physician and myself. We discuss the medical aspects of that patient in what it pertains to training and I design their program based on both their inputs. It can also involve a nutritionist, other coaches, a psychologist, a sports physiologist and more. It all depends, in the end, on who is hiring the team. Large interdisciplinary teams usually work under the sports division of a school or a sports club. However, individuals can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach as long as their physician and their coach are working together, and their coach can “speak science” with the physician.

Need Help? Let Marilia be your guide.

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