Brazilian researchers are rewarded and honored in General Meeting of TWAS



Between 18 and 21 November, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW), in Vienna, received the 26th General Meeting of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). Over 300 guests attended the event, including researchers, politicians and educators from more than 50 developed, developing and emerging countries, to discuss how science, education and technology can move forward in a sustainable way, in sectors such as agriculture, energy production and urban planning.

The event was a partnership with the Ministries of Science, Research and Economics; Transport, Innovation and Technology and Foreign Affairs of Austria, as well as Prefecture and the Department of Culture of the City of Vienna; the Hannes Androsch Fundation and the Federation of Austrian Industry.

For the first time in 30 years, a developed country hosted the General Meeting of TWAS. That has not happened since 1986, when the event occurred for the second time in Trieste, Italy, the city where a select group of scientists, led by Abdus Salam, a Pakistani physicist Nobel Prize winner, founded the Academy in 1983. The first conference held outside the Trieste took place in Beijing, China, in 1987.

For the executive director of TWAS, Romain Murenzi, the meeting comes at a crucial time for global sustainable development. "The challenges we are facing - such as food security, climate change and education - related problems - are momentary. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG - acronym designating the plan of global targets set by the UN for the next 15 years) provided a map of solutions, and we [the TWAS] believe that our meeting in Vienna will make outstanding contributions to understanding the goals and how to reach them. "

Jacob Palis receives the Abdus Salam medal

Among the celebrations held in the five-day event, one of which was the presentation of the Medal Abdus Salam Jacob Palis, president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and former president of the Academy of Sciences for the Third World (TWAS). In a room full of friends made during his tenure at the organization's leadership, Palis recalled with affection his relationship with Salam, Nobel laureate and founder of TWAS and their work in defense of science in the developing world.

"Maybe", he said, "this so special honor has been given to me because of my great passion for TWAS, designed by its founder Abdus Salam to continue the construction of science worldwide, focusing on developing countries and for the benefit of their societies."

Palis receives the medal from Indian chemist C.N.R. Rao, who preceded the Brazilian mathematician as president of the organization. Rao recalled in his speech that Palis has always been a vibrant presence at the Academy. Secretary General of TWAS 2001-2006, Palis presided the entity between 2007 and 2012 and in his first year in office, took the top position of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, where it remains today.

Born in Uberaba (MG), son of a Lebanese father and Syrian mother, Palis received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of California at Barkeley (USA) in 1968, when he returned to Brazil to work as a researcher at the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA), which would later become director from 1993 to 2003.

Established in 1995, the Medal Abdus Salam is one of the most prestigious honors of academia and the Pakistani physicist founder of International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICPT), which now has his name, and own TWAS in 1983.

"I've heard of Salam first as the founder of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, created by the Italian government in 1964 in Trieste, about 20 years before the TWAS", Palis recalls, affirming that the meetings provided by the physical center were essential to the creation of TWAS. "For the first world scientists, ICTP was an important step to apply Salam desires in their countries. As they engaged to each other in Trieste, sharing the same views, it confirmed their faith in what they did and the important work they were doing", says.

See full speech Jacob Palis here. 

Artur Avila wins TWAS - Lenovo prize

At a special ceremony during the general meeting of TWAS on 18 November, the Brazilian mathematician and Academic Artur Avila was named winner of the Science TWAS - Lenovo Award 2015 for his research solving mathematical mysteries like, "why chaos emerges from simplicity?"

The Avila research helped solve some of the major dilemmas of mathematics and told the world about the quality of research carried out in Brazil. The scientist has won the Fields Medal in 2014 and the TWAS prize for Mathematicians in 2013.

"Artur Avila is certainly an exceptional talent in mathematics", said the president of TWAS, Bai Chunli. "And he is a remarkable symbol of creativity that we found among the young researchers in the developing world. We are proud to TWAS of our contact with this scholar and believe it will have more many years of important achievements."

TWAS elects new members including Brazilian

Every year, in the General Meeting of TWAS, Academy chose new members and, in 2015, from 44 elected, three are Brazilians and members of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC).
 
In Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology are, the researcher Debora Foguel was selected. She is professor of the Instituto de Bioquímica Médica Leopoldo de Meis, Centro de Ciência e Saúde da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

Professor Virginia Sampaio Teixeira Ciminelli was elected in the area of Sciences of Engineering and is Professor of the Departmento de Metalurgia e Engenharia de Materiais of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) and director of the Instituto Nacional de Ciência, Tecnologia e Recursos Minerais, Água e Biodiversidade from Belo Horizonte (MG).
 
The third Brazilian researcher was Professor of Astronomia, Geofísica e Atmosfera in São Paulo, Jacques Lepine, in the Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences area.

(Samil Chalupe for NABC)




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