“Colombian scientists are deserving of the best recognitions,” said Eduardo Posada, president of the Colombian Association for the Advancement of Science (ACAC) in the Annual Statutory Session of the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences (ACCEFYN) that takes place on the third Wednesday of August of each year. In this session, the National Award for Comprehensive Work in Sciences is awarded, jointly awarded by ACCEFYN and ACAC, which makes it the highest award to which a Colombian scientist can aspire.
Posada and Piedad Villaveces, director of the ACAC, highlighted the fact that the Colombian scientific community is much stronger than the governments have imagined and it should be known that we have the capacity to build a better country based on the science produced in the universities. Colombian.
The biologist Enrique Forero, former director of research at the Missouri Botanical Garden and later that of New York, has headed ACCEFYN for the last seven years. Under his direction, ACCEFYN has gone from being a venerable Bogota institution to cover the entire country with regional chapters made up of local scientists hitherto ignored by the Establishment. He also formed the Young Academy with scientists under 40 years of age from where the future corresponding members will come from and invited national figures with a leaning towards science to become Friends of the Academy. The country must recognize this difficult but extraordinary work.
For the National Award for Comprehensive Work in Sciences, the jury recognized the merits of María Teresa Rugeles from the University of Antioquia and Braulio Insuasty from the Universidad del Valle. The work for which they were awarded was done entirely in Colombia. Rugeles is a bacteriologist and currently directs the Immunovirology Group of the University of Antioquia in which she has fine-tuned antiviral therapy protocols particularly in patients with AIDS. Last year he isolated the SARS-CoV-2 circulating in Antioquia and determined its sequence. He has more than 125 articles published in indexed journals and a foundation for the inclusion of low-income youth in university life, a fact that demonstrates his social commitment.
Insuasty is proud to have been born in Yacuanquer, a municipality of Nariño whose name means “tombs of the gods”. With more than thirty years at the Universidad del Valle, he leads the group of heterocyclic compounds that during its fruitful career has isolated a significant number of antibacterial and antiparasitic compounds, as well as antitumor molecules that have been evaluated by the National Cancer Institute of the States. United. It has achieved new materials for the manufacture of photovoltaic cells, an important contribution to the production of clean energy. He has published more than 220 articles in indexed journals. Both Rugeles and Insuasty have formed an important group of doctors and magisters.
Former Minister Juan Mayr, speaking on behalf of Friends of the Academy, presented the award to Paula Liliana Giraldo, a professor at the University of the Andes, where she leads the Group of Quantum Materials aimed at the production of quantum monocrystals. The winner said that her work shows how it is possible to do frontier science from our country.
The solemn session culminated with the exaltation of two Colombian scientists to the category of honorary members. Margarita Perea, professor at the National University, a biologist from the Javeriana University with a doctorate from the University of Paris and a stay at the University of Wageningen, has dedicated her life to biotechnology and has made important advances in the genetic improvement of plants that have led to it. to be a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and to several countries. Helena Groot, a microbiologist from the Andes, where for years she has directed the Human Genetics Laboratory, the first that the country had. He has done stays at various English laboratories and at Stanford University.