Marcelo was born in the city of Niterói- his father was a chemist and his mother was a teacher. His father loved science and was particularly fascinated with physics and math. On weekends his family would travel to their lakefront house in São Pedro da Aldeia, where the skies were dark and the stars were bright. His first stargazing memories were when he was about five years old. Marcelo writes: "During the night of the full Moon, my parents would call my younger sister and I and turn off all the lights in the house. Our family would stop all of our activities and watch the moonlight on the lake together. These were wonderful, magical moments for me. It made a big impression upon my life, and I have been interested in the universe ever since."
While attending high school, Souza had the opportunity to study physics and math, he then majored in physics while attending the university. However, it was not until he attended college that he actually looked through the eyepiece of a telescope. What kept Marcelo going was the book and television show Cosmos, by Carl Sagan. Soon he found himself interested in the area of cosmology, studying topological defects in the early universe, specifically with cosmic strings. Marcelo earned his Undergraduate's degree in only three years in 1987, and began teaching classes in physics. He then attained his Master's degree in 1990, and finally his Doctor of Science degree in 1999.
Although he is a full-time professor, Marcelo Souza's passion is in educational public outreach in astronomy and space exploration. In 1991 Marcelo Souza founded the Mario Schenberg Astronomy Club (in honor of astrophysicist Mario Shenberg who died in 1990) in his hometown of Niterói, then in 1996 founded the Clube de Astronomia Louis Cruls (in honor of of astronomer Louis Cruls) in Campos dos Goytacazes.
Marcelo Souza with members from the Clube de Astronomia Louis Cruls with an Explore Scientific AR127 Air-Spaced Doublet that was donated to the organization for their outreach events.
"Um Passei pelo Céu" (A Walk Through the Sky) was a weekly television show broadcast on cable television in Campos dos Goytacazes. Hosted by Marcelo Souza, he covered many topics of astronomy, cosmology, and space exploration. It was on the air for nine years ending in 2011, when Marcelo ended the program to care for his father who suffered from a stroke.
Beginning in 2005, Souza has written a weekly column about astronomy and astronautics in the regional newspaper "O Diário".
By 2008, Marcelo had already organized many local and national astronomy and space exploration public educational outreach events. With the success of his leadership with the Clube de Astronomia Louis Cruls activities and his international contacts, Souza decided to organize a series of events with the participation of international speakers, the annual "International Meeting of Astronomy and Astronautics" (IMAA). This international event has attracted astronauts, scientists, cosmologists, and astronomers from around the world. As of 2019 Souza organized the 12th edition of IMAA that has already had the participation of more than 150 speakers from 32 countries.
Awards and Recognition
Over the years, Marcelo de Olivera Souza has received many accolades, awards, and recognitions for his work in educational public outreach in astronomy and space exploration, including:
A Motion of Congratulations from the Councilmen of the City of Rio de Janeiro in 2005 for his work in astronomy popularization for children and young people;
A Motion of Congratulations in 2006 from the Legislature of the State of Rio de Janeiro for his work as General Coordinator of the Louis Cruls Astronomy Club, on the occasion of its 10th Anniversary
Recognized in 2008 as an Ambassador for Astronomers Without Borders
A Motion of Congratulations in 2014 from the Legislature of the city of Campos dos Goytacazes