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Faculty of Science awards honorary degrees to Ricardo Ehrlich, Giulio Fernandez, Rodolfo Gambini and Eduardo Mizraghi |  newspaper

Faculty of Science awards honorary degrees to Ricardo Ehrlich, Giulio Fernandez, Rodolfo Gambini and Eduardo Mizraghi | newspaper

What is an honorary award? Certainly to honor a distinguished career. Why does the College of Science award the Medal of Honor? Certainly recognition of a distinguished career in the world of scientific production and training of researchers. But there is more.

On August 8, the Council of the Faculty of Science decided to award the title of honorary doctorate to researchers Ricardo Ehrlich – distinguished in molecular biology – Julio Fernandez – distinguished in astronomy – Rodolfo Gambini – distinguished in theoretical physics – and Eduardo Mizraghi – distinguished in biophysics. The decision was made after the college’s current dean, Monica Marin, submitted the proposal with the Scientific Research Committee.

Marin justified in writing why they were given such a distinction. “There are four professors who are among our faculty members, and they have a very distinguished academic career in different fields of knowledge,” he said. He pointed out that the four had received “many privileges and recognitions from the scientific and academic community at the national and international levels” in addition to that they played “a fundamental role in establishing and building the Faculty of Science, and in developing it at the University of the Republic and in the scientific progress of the country.” Marin added that “these professors were instrumental in the training of undergraduate and graduate students and enriched the academic life of many teachers and researchers from various institutions in the country and abroad,” which, according to him, “contributed to the promotion of public education in access to university education, the development of science and its connection to society.” “. It’s all true. But also… very rational.

Watching the award ceremony, and looking at how Ricardo, Julio, Rodolfo and Eduardo tried not to tear off the words of the speakers and the applause of the audience, it turns out that there is another dimension that escapes the mere counting of virtues and achievements. Each one. Why is the Medal of Honor awarded then? Because the scientific community is also built with emotions. Like all human cultural activity, science does not operate in a vacuum. Science is a team work. Science, like literature or any other fairly standardized human expression, seeks to reach and impart others. In the assembly hall of the Faculty of Science, the scientific community then assembled to move those who moved it so much. And what if those moments were necessary to support each other in a context where science and the university have been hit so hard.

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Four giants throwing several generations

These declarations compel us to review the merits and achievements of each in a few lines. As if life fits in a few lines. But here we are.

Ricardo Ehrlich, born in 1948, gave a great impetus to molecular biology in our country. He trained in France and contributed to the launch of research in the country after the dictatorship. He was Dean of the College of Science between 1998 and 2005, and has more than 60 scientific articles published in refereed journals, the first of which was in 1981 (titled something like Analysis of local DNA stability and cooperation: suggestion of a molecular mechanism to initiate transcription of the A3 gene from T7 bacteria by E. coli RNA polymerase.) and most recently in 2022 (titled something like Are you ready to immigrate? Reading markers of cellular migration in the epithelium-to-mesenchymal transition model). He directed 12 Ph.D. theses and 15 master’s theses. But all this, just as it is written here, hardly serves to scratch what Ricardo is referring to for the flag of this country (and that is without reviewing his passage through the municipality of Montevideo or the Ministry of Culture).

Something similar can be experienced with Julio Fernandez. His three fundamental papers that changed our knowledge of the solar system can be cited: work he published in 1980, in which he predicted the existence of a belt of comets beyond Neptune, and another publication in the same year showing that comets of a cloud Oort must have come from the region between Uranus and Neptune, and the region that Published together with Wing Ip in 1983, in which he describes the orbital migration that planets undergo in their early stages of formation and this explains the architecture observed in planetary systems. It can also be said that he published half a hundred other articles, the first of which was in 1976 (Critical Comments on Some Theories about the Origin of Planetary Rotation(and most recently in 2021)On the origin of the Kreutz family of sun-throwing comets). Or that he was Dean of the College of Science between 2005-2010. But Julio Fernandez is much more than that to our knowledge.

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We can put that Rodolfo Gambini is the most important theoretical physicist on the continent and there may be little inconsistency. He is a world-renowned researcher for forming a group proposing a theory of quantum gravity – the ring theory – that would help unify the theory of general relativity that describes large-scale phenomena, and the theory of quantum mechanics that describes phenomena on the microscopic scale. We can say that its first publication in a peer-reviewed journal dates back to 1972 (Dynamic inconsistency and conformational covariance of a massless tensor field) and that her most recent of more than 150 articles appeared a few months ago (Solving the time problem in quantum gravity also solves the arrival time problem in quantum mechanics.), with fellow adventurers Jorge Bolin. But we will not even scratch the surface of what Rodolfo represents to science in these latitudes.

Let’s also do the clumsy try with Eduardo Mizraghi, who is responsible for expanding biophysics in the country. His research on mathematics in biological processes led him from enzymes to neural networks, an area of ​​great importance in the age of computing and artificial intelligence. We can say that the first article in which he participated was published in 1971 (L-glutamine D-fructose-6-phosphate iodotransferase from chicken cartilage. Proof of random mechanism(And after half a hundred publications, the most recent of which was in 2021)Vector logic allows anti-reality hypothesis by the square root of NOT). or written by The second secret of life s In search of the laws of thought They are wonderful. But again we will fall short.

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Recognizing the various speakers at the ceremony, from University President Rodrigo Arem and Dean Monica Marin to student representatives, alumni and teachers on the College Board, as well as the four fellows who were student winners, they attempted to provide more edges than an enumeration of the achievements by which scholarly activity is usually measured. for researchers.

But let it be clear: without Eduardo, Rodolfo, Julio and Ricardo, with greater or lesser responsibility, depending on the situation and not exclusively, there would be in the country, at least not as we know them today, the Program for the Development of Basic Sciences, nor the Faculty of Sciences, nor a National Agency for Research and innovation, nor a national system of researchers, nor a national academy of sciences in Uruguay, nor the Pasteur Institute in Montevideo, among others.

Even then, we won’t be able to fully determine its size. Without these four giants who stood on the shoulders of those who preceded them, the hundreds of seekers who assisted in the catapult would definitely not have existed today. Science, like DNA, has the primary task of passing it on to the next generation. Rodolfo, Eduardo, Giulio and Ricardo watched her carefully. Not only did they suffice with their flag, but they also expanded the flag of the rest, and thus the flag of the country.

The temptation to praise their achievements personally and for the scientific community is great. But again, it does not exhaust that feeling that overwhelms the room. Because applauding them in standing has more to do with the future of science than the past in which they were heroes. It is clear that the past shapes the present. But some, such as Eduardo, Rodolfo, Ricardo and Julio, were determined to forge the future. Now that all four are retired, the College of Science honors them for helping us reach infinity and beyond. Science is always tomorrow too. That’s why we would do well to support her today.