The Network for Extreme Environment Research (NEXER) already has its first projects awarded, which makes the cooperation between researchers of the Universidad de La Frontera, the Universidad de Magallanes and the Universidad de Antofagasta official.
This collaboration between three Chilean universities – Universidad de La Frontera, Universidad de Magallanes and Universidad de Antofagasta – with the support of the BIOREN-UFRO, realizes high-level research in extreme environments and aspires to become one of the most successful projects at the national level.
Chile has a wide range of ecosystems, from the desert in the north, the fertile areas in the center, the pampa, to the ice fields in the south. This converts the country into a natural laboratory for exploration. Due to the big amount and diversity of organisms and the role of the flow of materials and energy in nature – biogeochemical cycles, fertility in terrestrial and aquatic environments, gene transfer – the need to realize research in collaboration with different universities emerged.
This is how the Network for Extreme Environment Research (NEXER) came to life, which is an organism that brings three Chilean universities together and seeks to get to know and discuss research in extreme environments at an international level, taking advantage of the experience of well-known researchers; to identify, analyze and discuss the issues of investigation with the three participating universities; to create projects together, find new research areas and establish new collaborative networks for research and postgraduate programs.
The last two points are in full swing and at the moment, the three universities are preparing themselves for the development of four new projects in this area, which are presented by the doctors Cristina Ortiz (UA), Ricardo De Pol-Holz (UMAG), Francisco Matus (UFRO) and León Bravo (UFRO).
“This initiative shows that there is still a lot of knowledge to explore, especially in the regions where the three participating universities are located: the desert in the north, the mountains and volcanos in the central area, and the entrance to the Antarctica in the south. We have remarkable research resources”, commented the Vice-rector of Research and Postgraduate Programs, Dr. Eduardo Hebel.
He also pointed out that this cooperation is a clear sign of the significance of the associativity as one of the pillars that sustain the research work, which the Vice-rectory wants to continue tosupport. “The key is to work in a network. And in this case in particular, the international connections are relevant because they are going to be our window to the world”, added Dr. Hebel.
The Director of the BIOREN-UFRO, Dr. María de la Luz Mora, sees this as an opportunity not only for the universities that are involved, but also for the students of the undergraduate and postgraduate programs and for the researchers. “We can continue the exchange of questions and create knowledge in other areas. The Nucleus is going to contribute within all of its possibilities to make this happen. We bet on collaboration for being able to keep growing”, she added.
AIMS OF NEXER
For the general coordinator of the network, Dr. Mara Cea, NEXER wants to share the particularities of each region – the Chilean southern territories, deserts and volcanos – in order to contribute to the creation of knowledge and values for the society.
“Although we are just starting, the network has already more than 30 main researchers with their corresponding work teams of the three universities. With such a big group, the NEXER is about to become a flagship project at the national level.”
In this context, the network defined the following work areas:
Strengthen research in extreme areas of Chile, establishing multidisciplinary research areas that permit the understanding of different levels and scales.
Establish outreach programs for the research in extreme environmentsof the NEXER, presenting its members and activities.
Promote the interaction between researchers of the network and other national and international researchers.
Contribute to the training of students of undergraduate and postgraduate programs by offering special training courses,and support and mentoring for young researchers of the postdoctoral level.
NEXER PROJECTS 2017
• ADAPTATIONS IN POLYEXTREME ENVIRONMENTS: FROM THE MOLECULE TO HUMANS
Main Institution: Universidad de Antofagasta
Director: Cristina Dorador
• CARBON DYNAMICS IN THE ANTHROPOCENE: A PERSPECTIVE FROM EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS
Main Institution: Universidad de Magallanes
Director: Ricardo De Pol-Holz
• EFFECT OF DRYING AND THAWING CYCLES ON SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION ALONG SOIL DEVELOPMENT
GRADIENTS FORMED IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS OF CHILE
Main Institution: Universidad de La Frontera
Director: Francisco Matus
• EXTREMOPHYTES: THE NEW PROMISING MODELS FOR DISCOVERING STRESS TOLERANCE MECHANISMS AND BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS
Main nstitution: Universidad de La Frontera
Director: León Bravo
AREAS OF INTEREST OF THE MAIN RESEARCHERS OF THE NETWORK
Taxonomy and Phylogeny
Conservation of Microorganisms
Proteomics and Metabolomics
Written by: Lorena Espinoza Arévalo