Young Latin American science looks in the mirror of the Nobel Prize winners

Science Editorial Office, Nov 16 (EFE) .- Every young scientist has ever dreamed of being a Nobel Prize winner and, although that is a distant goal, a group of Latin American students has been able to reflect with five of the laureates on their role in society and the challenges they will have to face.

“United for science”, a dialogue organized by the Nobel Prize Outreach, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences, has allowed 80 young people from a score of Latin American and Caribbean countries to raise their doubts with the winners, as well as getting to know each other.

Nobel Laureates in Medicine Elizabeth Blackburn (2009) and May-Britt Moser (2014); of Chemistry Emmanuelle Charpentier (2020), and the winners in Chemistry Bernard Feringa (2016) and Physics Saul Perlmutter (2011) answered their questions.

How science can most effectively have a positive impact on society, how to network among scientists, how to deal with gender issues or ethical dilemmas, or how to avoid being burned out with the stress of every day.

A session that was developed in groups and in virtual format where there was no lack of answers, summarized in the final council of the nobels. They should be “the protagonists of their own lives,” they are the ones who can change the future, and “if they expect our generation to do so, it may not happen,” Charpentier said.

“Follow your dreams, do not give up,” added Feringa, an argument in which Blackburn deepened with a “persist and use your science for good”, but also finding something that “they are really passionate about” because that will help them cope with the highs. and low of the profession, Perlmutter noted.

Feringa told Efe, in a videoconference statement, that he had been “impressed” by those young people with “a lot of talent”, full of “enthusiasm” and “very committed” to the future of science and its role in society.

The nobel advocated the importance of governments assuming the responsibility of allocating “sufficient” funds to science and education and that they value their talents, that they give them opportunities because “many of these brilliant young people will advance their countries in all aspects ”.

A commitment to education that Charpentier also highlighted in a conversation between the laureates to share the conclusions of their respective groups, during which Perlmuter stressed that science is also a vision to understand the world and its problems.

Chilean Catalina Andrade, a doctoral student, highlighted to Efe the enrichment of the experience in her group with Moser and chose as one of the messages that, being from Latin American countries, with little representation in these awards, they will not “ pigeonhole ”nor is it going to make them believe that they cannot reach that prize.

Nobel laureates and students highlighted the importance of scientists networking and networking within and outside their region.

Scientists have the “privilege of being part of a family all over the world, we have no borders” and this dialogue is a way to start putting students from Latin America and the Caribbean in contact, said Feringa.

“I think it is important that we have this debate, even with a limited group, because they will talk with other students, with other young scientists and we hope they can get the messages through, it is like a snowball effect,” he said.

A dialogue that has allowed us to see how young people have similar ideas on many topics such as the communication of science or what it means to be a good scientist. “It is very gratifying to see that, in fact, we are united by science, regardless of the country we come from,” said Chilean Ignacio Vega.

In short, and in the words of the Brazilian Ariana Pinheiro, “it doesn’t matter if you are from Brazil, Chile or the United States. You can make a difference and have an impact on the world ”. EFE

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Young Latin American science looks in the mirror of the Nobel Prize winners