In 2019, this institution will execute seven projects that will strengthen its international links and joint collaborative work. It is the second year in a row in which the UFRO reaches a leading position in this national competition.
The Universidad de La Frontera celebrates a major success again. As well as in 2017, it is in second place regarding the number of projects and resources it acquired in the latest Competition for the Attraction of International Advanced Human Capital, Modality Short Stays-MEC, by Conicyt.
We are talking about a total of seven approved projects (14% of the total) and an amount that reaches 98 million Chilean pesos (16% of the total). The idea of this competition is to finance short stays abroad (minimum two months and maximum ten months) for scientists of excellence and vast recognition, at accredited regional universities, between March and December of 2019. The aim is to contribute to academic and scientific strengthening.
The approved project proposals will strengthen the partnerships and scientific work of this institution across the borders. Dr. Pamela Leal, director of the International Affairs Office, said: “The projects which will be executed by our researchers will significantly strengthen the internationalization of our university, one of the main aspects we have been working on and which, through the presence and cooperation of well-known and recognized scientists, does not only invigorate the existing partnerships, but also opens new opportunities and networks, apart from contributing to under- and postgraduate research and teaching.”
She also emphasized the excellent result the university obtained. “Again, we are in second place among the institutions which reached the highest number of approved projects.
This is an important success that shows us that we are strongly advancing with our task of expanding our international partnerships, which result in concrete actions of collaboration and partnership. Besides, the number of approved proposals and funding permits us to positively compare ourselves with other institutions in the group of regional universities that are accredited for 6-7 years.”
The proposals are divided according to disciplines the OECD consigns and, in the case of the UFRO, these are Agricultural Sciences (4), Earth Science (1), Psychology (1) and Humanities (1).
One of the proposals came from Dr. Maria de la Luz Mora, director of BIOREN-UFRO, called “Role of carbon sequestration in the P priming effect: Bases for intelligent fertilizer design and nutrient recycling”, which contemplates a stay of Dr. Cornelia Rumpel of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Another participant in this project is Dr. Marcela Calabi of BIOREN-UFRO.
“This project is about the implementation of a joint laboratory between both institutions and the consolidation of the cooperation between UFRO and CNRS, allowing a continuous development of projects. Also based on the cooperation development as BIOREN, we want to incorporate ourselves in the international initiative “4 per 1000” launched by France to demonstrate that agricultural soils can play a crucial role for food security and climate change,” Dr. María de la Luz Mora explained.
Another proposal came from Dr. René Montalba, a project called “Resilience and sustainability of agri-food systems: Comparative analysis of the transformation process in Spain and Chile”. His project contemplates the stay of Dr. Gloria Guzmán from Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain, with whom he has been working for years on the development of agri-food systems.
“The aim of the visit of Dr. Guzmán is to standardize a joint evaluation methodology for the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems, based on which we can do an international analysis and a comparison of the results of these evaluations. At the beginning, we are going to compare what happens in the south of Chile and in Spain. At the end of the first term, we will have meetings with colleagues from ten Latin-American countries, in which we will propose to do these evaluations at a sub-continental level,” Dr. Montalba stated.
Dr. Beatriz Vizcarra will execute a project called “Compared analysis of child protection systems: Contributions to the development of a system in Chile based on respect for children´s rights”, that includes the stay of Dr. Mónica López López, a specialist of the University of Groningen, Netherlands, who will stay at the UFRO for three months, from April to May, and in November 2019.
“Dr. López will support the activities of our Master´s Program in Forensic and Legal Psychology, and the undergraduate teaching, and help us to plan a project we want to present to Fondecyt (Chilean National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development). As a university and a country, we also want to join an international network of the Dutch institution, together with other universities in Germany and England, which just finished a comparative study on the child protection systems in their countries,” she commented regarding the collaboration of the specialist, who will also be at the Universidad Católica of Valparaíso, within the framework of this project. She also appreciates the experience of the scientist in this field: “They have been developing methodologies for the evaluation of child protection systems which are fundamental. And that can contribute to the improvement of the systems in our country.”
Dr. Alex Seguel proposed the project “Research Advances in sustainable alternatives for the agricultural production based on the use of bioinoculants and agricultural amendments”, which includes the stay of Dr. Concepción Azcón of the National Research Council (CSIC) in Spain.
“The idea of the stay of Dr. Azcón is the transfer of experience regarding the creation and use of bioinoculants and organic amendments, for under- and postgraduate students, farmers and small producers in the Araukanía Region, as sustainable alternatives for agricultural production, through joint activities between the UFRO, as host institution, and the Universidad Católica and INIA Carillanca in Temuco, as partners. On the other hand, the project seeks to strengthen the network with the Department of Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems of the Zaidín Experimental Station (EEZ), which is part of CSIC-Spain, and to promote outreach activities,” Dr. Seguel specified.
Dr. Yéssica González, an UFRO academic, programmed the visit of Dr. María Eugenia Petit-Brehuilh, a researcher at the Department of History of Latin America at the University of Seville, Spain, within her project called “Power in the margins. Borders, subjects, spaces and territories”, for the second semester of 2019.
“This project responds to the need of amplifying and reformulating some of the conceptual categories based on which the space of the Araukanía Region and several historic events that have taken place in it as a border area and an area where ethnically and culturally different societies are living together from the colonial phase to present have been interpreted,” Dr. González commented, and pointed out that Dr. Petit-Brehuilh´s visit will contribute to the strengthening and consolidation of research on this issue through renewal of theoretical and methodological approaches and the internationalization of links and associative work networks.
The project of Dr. Jacqueline Acuña is called “Exploring the role of fungi in the spread of rhizobacteria in grasslands established in the Chilean Patagonia” and counts with the collaboration of Dr. Lucas Kwick of the Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany. This joint work will allow to specify teaching activities together with the Universidad de Magallanes, which is the counterparty of the initiative.
“We want to determine how bacteria and fungi are helping the exotic species to spread in grasslands of the Chilean Patagonia and to strengthen the academic scientific capacity in the study of this fungi-bacteria interrelation. The project also strengthens the Network for Extreme Environments we have between the UFRO, Universidad de Antofagasta and the Universidad de Magallanes”, Dr. Acuña stated.
Dr. Francisco Matus leads the project “Influence of pedogenic processes on root carbon and the nutrient cycle in volcanic soils in the south of Chile”, with the collaboration of Dr. Yakov Kuzyakov of the Agrarian and Technology Institute at RUDN University in Moscow, Russia.
“The objective of the project is to study the mechanistic processes that attach to the flows of Carbon and other nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) in volcanic soils considering their specific mineralogy and agricultural management. The flows of C, N and P in volcanic soils in the south of Chile will be quantified, specifically the processes that regulate the plant-soil interactions of microorganisms for C, N and P and other nutrients,” he said, and added that the scientist will actively participate in this study that covers the analyses of stable and radioactive isotopes. Through his visit in Chile, the colleagues of his research team will support the marking campaigns, as well as the different stages of sample preparation in the framework of the FONDECYT project No. 1170119, INACH RT 23_27, the Network for Extreme Environment Research (NEXER), and the EarthShape Project that is led by Dr. Kuzyakov.
Written by: Jassna Sepúlveda B. /Sergio Valenzuela S.