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1 June 2020: Experts addressed the challenge of linking science and social problems
Director of CI²MA participated in an activity on the context of Cultural Heritage Day
  • Participants agreed that the current context of health crisis can be an unbeatable opportunity to enhance the social visibility of scientific research.  

Last Sunday, the virtual forum Applied Mathematics or Applicable Mathematics was held, as part of the “Science with Conscience” activities, organized by the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, FCFM, in the context of a series of initiatives promoted by the Heritage Unit from the Universidad de of Concepción, motivated by the National Cultural Heritage Day.  

Dr. Rodolfo Araya Durán, Director of the Center for Research in Mathematical Engineering, CI²MA, and Dr. Camilo Mejías Neira, Chief Executive Officer of Hibring, participated in the dialogue – streamed through the YouTube channel of the FCFM-UdeC-, who addressed the challenges that arise in the path of turning the science that is developed in laboratories, centers and university classrooms, towards the resolution of specific problems from various areas of society.

In this regard, Camilo Mejías, a PhD from UdeC graduated in 2019, said that the current contingency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has facilitated the visibility of scientists in certain areas. “When I was a recent graduate, I had to constantly explain what a mathematical civil engineer does for work. Instead, now, it is understood that we have something to do with curves and, therefore, we can contribute in something. I would hope that, after this, there will be a space, at least, to show how we can apply mathematics to various problems, helping to advise authority and improve decision-making”, he explains.   

Mejías tells that, when creating Hibring, the main intention was and continues to be the main objective of the firm, “to transfer academic knowledge to the industry, through a company, to be able to deliver solutions through mathematical modeling, solutions that are at the frontier of knowledge or very close to research and development”.

On the other hand, Araya explains that this is, “largely due to the way in which the academic career of researchers is evaluated, very closely linked to the production of high-impact scientific articles and attendance to congresses, and not so much to the relationship with the productive sector, which I think is changing in our University. I think that us scientists have an ethical commitment to use our knowledge to improve the quality of life of our compatriots and I think it is a very nice challenge for universities”. 

For Araya, three fundamental actors must collaborate for these purposes: academia, the private sector and the public sector. However, he explains, it is possible to advance by developing collaborative science within the university itself. “We have specialized centers on different topics such as environmental science and astronomy, among others, in which researchers from different areas collaborate. An example of this is Raimund Bürger from CI²MA, who also works at the Center for Water Resources for Agriculture and Mining, CRHIAM, addressing very real problems. We academicians should have that interest to apply. For me it is a personal challenge”, he affirms.

In the same way, Mejías added that “CI²MA is an ideal place to advance in this, given that its researchers work in very diverse areas and subjects and with great potential to have applications in industry and in society in general”.

Regarding the results of the forum, its organizer, the academic from the Department of Mathematical Engineering of the UdeC, Dr. Anahí Gajardo Schulz, emphasized that “at the University, research work is invisible to the general public, and it is our duty to open spaces where citizens can know and appreciate it, and to achieve this objective, initiatives such as this one are essential”.

From a personal point of view and his 30- ear career as an academician which was recently honored in the context of the celebration of the 101st institutional anniversary, Dr. Araya -PhD of Mathematics from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI (France)- said that this “has been a very interesting trip. I think there should be very few professions as rewarding as this one, to train new generations, in addition to doing research. I think that is a very nice mix, because it gives us meaning to life, because it is not just another job, but it also has a lot of vocation. I have really enjoyed it and I have learned a lot”.

The conversation is available on the Faculty YouTube channel

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