“I don’t know what will happen to science in the new government”: Dr. Cecilia Hidalgo, re-elected as President of the Chilean Academy of Sciences

“I don’t know what will happen to science in the new government”: Dr. Cecilia Hidalgo, re-elected as President of the Chilean Academy of Sciences

Until 2024 Chilean Academy of Sciences will be directed by Dr. Maria Cecilia Hidalgo, the first Doctor of Science in University of Chile and the first woman to receive the National Natural Sciences Prize, in 2006. No, a biochemist, was re-elected by an absolute majority of votes.

In the Dr. Sergio Lavandero has been elected First Vice-PresidentIt is also elected by an absolute majority. The position of second vice president, loyal secretariat and representatives of the Academy before the Instituto Chile will be elected in the coming weeks.

The Chilean Academy of Sciences is one of the six academies that make up Chile Institute Its goal is to be a place for discussion and presentation of ideas about the knowledge of state knowledge, as well as for the expression and expansion of science and principles of knowledge.

“I just completed three years in the presidency, and now three more years are coming,” says the newly elected president.

– What is the balance of these three years?

“We have great challenges. We quarrel over the science budget. We have been on many occasions to publicize what is being done at the Academy, with great participation of young scientists. In our zoom meetings, 60 or 70 people participate, plus each Those who can see these science gatherings and conversations later on Facebook.I would say those two main goals in these first three years, is to open up the academy, make it known, give it greater visibility and try to influence policy decisions so that more resources can be had for science “.

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With only two days left before the presidential election, Dr. Cecilia Hidalgo says she’s worried. Reason? Despite all the invitations, emails, and invitations inviting presidential candidates to attend the academy and talk about the scientific vision of the future government, only the candidate, Yasna, the Undersecretary, arrived. While on behalf of the candidate, Sebastian Seychelles, they met with an envoy.

Photo: Luis Enrique Sevilla Fajardo/La Terceira

– If they are not, is it because they do not have the development of science as a priority?

“I hope not, but I find it disturbing that they were not. I am disappointed and confused, in complete uncertainty. The choice is very uncertain, and I do not know what will happen to science in the new government.”

Dr Hidalgo believes that if the Covid-19 pandemic was helpful, it was to assess the science going on in Chile. “The epidemic showed that if we had no science in Chile, We were not able to obtain a PCR identification test, we would not be able to tell what type of mutations and variants were circulating, nor could we perform an analysis of the data. Nor can it be in contact with foreign researchers to be able to conduct clinical studies of vaccines. Chile has a few very good scientists, but we need to invest more in it so that we can integrate a lot of people who have been trained in Chile and abroad who today have to go back, but have no place to integrate themselves because there is no work for them. Thing It should be the responsibility of the country that created the programThe president of the Chilean Academy of Sciences insists.

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How many scholars should return?

“I tried to get that number, but it was impossible… I know more than 10,000 people went to train outside the country. It’s a paradox because we have a density of scientists for each population group, which is about a tenth of what we have in OECD countries. What I would do, if I could, is generate more resources in high-quality regional centers, do science with a regional impact, scientists who could be included in the state where they are needed as well as in the private sector where we haven’t yet been able to get investment.”

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