IX UNAB Scientific Culture Conference Held with Great Success
The scientific dissemination event, held in a hybrid format for the first time, brought together over a hundred people attending the live event and over a thousand joining online. The attendees enjoyed engaging and exciting talks that covered current pressing issues, including technology, innovation, knowledge, literature, and ingenuity.
The IX Scientific Culture Conference of the Universidad Andrés Bello was held over two days in a hybrid format for the first time. This science outreach event organized by the UNAB Center for Scientific Communication (C3) seeks to step away from the laboratory and scientific papers to bring science and research to the public.
This ninth edition was held at the theater of the Antonio Varas campus. It featured engaging presentations by six nationally and internationally renowned specialists who shared their work and knowledge with the audience and participated in an interdisciplinary discussion at the end of each day, moderated by Andrea Obaid, a prominent science journalist.
On October 5-6, 130 people attended in person, while 1,200 attended remotely. Additionally, both days of the event are available on the UNABTV channel on YouTube. To date, the video account of the first day has over 2,700 views, while the second day’s video has nearly 5,600 views.
In her welcoming remarks to the conference, Carolina Torrealba, Dean of Research and Doctoral Studies, described the context in which this event is taking place today, which is related to the understanding of knowledge that arises from research. «It is no longer an interesting event for an enlightened elite, but we have to conceive it as a basic democratic tool, as the ABCs of what we need for people to make autonomous and informed decisions and collectively lead us, hopefully, towards a common good. In that sense, the Center for Scientific Communication and Universidad Andrés Bello are a part of this reflection today».
Current Issues Seen from an Interdisciplinary Perspective
The first day began with a presentation by Guadalupe Nogués, Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and author of the outstanding book “Pensar con otros. Una guía de supervivencia en tiempos de posverdad” (2018). In her presentation entitled «Testing Ground for Ideas», Dr. Nogués shared insightful reflections on the link between competition and collaboration and the role of misconception, diversity, and pluralism in advancing toward greater knowledge and innovation.
«It is an enormous honor to visit the prestigious Universidad Andrés Bello to discuss these essential topics,» said Guadalupe Nogués, while reaffirming the need for strategies «to generate more innovative and creative environments, and where ideas can be discussed in a better way.»
The following presentation was by Tomás Errázuriz, historian and a Ph.D. in Architecture and Urban Studies from the Pontificia Universidad Católica and research professor at the Universidad Andrés Bello. In his presentation «Care, Repair and Reuse: Sustainability Begins at Home,» the academic addressed the relationship we establish with the things we buy and the need to foster a culture of repair and reuse, all immersed in a singular aesthetic beauty and multiple demonstrations of ingenuity.
Regarding his participation in an interdisciplinary discussion, Errázuriz said: «I have worked in schools of Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Architecture, and Design, so I am used to being involved where I don’t belong and seeing the benefits of that. It is certainly beneficial to network and be exposed to others who think differently, and these instances are welcome».
The first day closed with the presentation «The (Non) Essential… is Also Invisible, Contamination in Aquatic Environments in Chile» by UNAB researcher of the School of Life Sciences Gustavo Chiang. During the presentation, the marine biologist and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Universidad de Chile submerged the public in the rivers, lakes, and the Chilean sea to explore the unfortunate number of toxic compounds found in these bodies of water to learn to make better decisions as a society.
«This event for me is significant. As ecotoxicologists, we have few opportunities to communicate what we are doing, so this is an excellent window that UNAB offers its researchers to communicate the science they are doing and democratize it,» said Gustavo Chiang, Universidad Andrés Bello researcher.
Nature, Innovation, and Physics
Spanish writer Mónica Fernández-Aceytuno opened the IX Scientific Culture Conference on the second day. Fernández-Aceytuno is a graduate of Biological Sciences from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, winner of the National Prize for Nature Conservation in Spain, and author of the books «El viento en hamacas», «El país de los pájaros que duermen en el aire» and the three volumes of her most outstanding publication: “Las 104 palabras más hermosas de la Naturaleza.”
The writer’s presentation, «The Third Branch, between Literature and Nature,» captivated the audience with her extraordinary sensitivity to observing and appreciating the natural world and how valuable it is to recreate nature and make words germinate.
In her opinion, UNAB’s scientific conference «is a significant event because it unites two branches that always seemed different: culture and science. It is the society that ultimately makes the decisions, and society must be informed of scientific advances in a way that is accessible, easy to understand, even attractive, in my case – through poetry or literature,» said author Mónica Fernández-Aceytuno.
Next was Carla Taramasco, academic, and researcher at the UNAB School of Engineering and Director of the Institute of Technology for Innovation in Health and Wellness (ITISB) of the same university. The engineer in Applied Information Technology and Doctor of Science from the Ècole Polytechnique in Paris, France, presented the talk «Quida: Intelligent Environments to Increase the Well-Being of Elderly People.» In her presentation, the ITISB director demonstrated how technological development and innovation have positively impacted the quality of life of the elderly. Carla Taramasco emphasized the importance of the research process, especially the trials and errors that occur.
«I think it is essential to be able to tell what we are doing, how we have been progressing, and how, as scientists, we often research different areas, seeing what things work and others that don’t, and how results that have an impact generate a product: in this case, an intelligent environment for the elderly, achieving greater autonomy, but safely,» said Carla Taramasco, director of the Institute of Technology for Innovation in Health and Wellness at UNAB.
The final talk of the IX Scientific Culture Conference was «What are we made of?» by Jilberto Zamora, academic and researcher at the School of Exact Sciences of the Universidad Andrés Bello. The mechanical engineer and Doctor of Science, with a mention in physics from the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, offered an entertaining journey through the historical evolution of human knowledge -from ancient Greece to the most modern ideas of Physics – to try to answer a question that, as the speaker acknowledged, remains open.
«The most important and distinguishing feature of human beings is the ability to ask questions, and I believe that as a species, we have been losing this ability, so this is an opportunity to encourage us to continue asking fundamental questions,» said Jilberto Zamora, UNAB academic and member of the Instituto Milenio SAPHIR. «Sometimes it can be complicated to get the message across, especially when information comes from countless sources and is not always accurate and correct, so these serious instances, such as the Scientific Culture Conference, are fundamental.»
Written by Pamela Alarcón