Chilean Academy of Sciences awards Jocelyn Dunstan a prize for “scientific excellence”

Chilean Academy of Sciences awards Jocelyn Dunstan a prize for “scientific excellence”

She was recognized with the distinction “Adelina Gutiérrez Young Researcher” 2022 for her impeccable work in exact sciences with artificial intelligence entitled: “The Chilean waiting list corpus”.

This Wednesday, November 29, the Chilean Academy of Sciences held the award ceremony for scientific excellence “Adelina Gutiérrez Young Researcher” for those under 40 years of age and “Doctoral Thesis”, corresponding to the 2022 and 2023 calls.

“For several years the Chilean Academy of Sciences has decided to recognize the work of young scientists. That is why we instituted -more than ten years ago- the award for the best thesis, and, in addition, we recognize the work of young female scientists with the Adelina Gutiérrez scientific excellence award, which initially was given to only one person, but then we discovered that it was much better to give an award in exact sciences and an award in natural sciences, because it was very difficult to distinguish an excellent work in biology from a work in exact sciences, in physics or in mathematics. So we decided to separate the award”, explained the president of the institution, María Cecilia Hidalgo.

Along these lines, she explained that “a jury is formed by members of the academy and they review the theses very carefully. There are more than 20 applications, so 20 theses have to be read. Each thesis is 100 pages long, so it is a very exhaustive, very deep work that the jury does and chooses the excellence”.

Adelina Gutiérrez Young Researcher

The word “excellence” accompanied the entire career of Carmen Adelina Gutiérrez Alonso, a Chilean astrophysicist who taught at the Liceo Darío Salas and at the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (FCFM) of the University of Chile, as well as working at the historic National Astronomical Observatory with her research in the field of photoelectric photometry of southern stars.

After her death in 2015, it is her name and great legacy that gives life to the award for scientific excellence to “Adelina Gutiérrez Young Researcher”, which was obtained in its 2022 edition by the researcher associated with the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the University of Chile, Jocelyn Dunstan, for her impeccable work in exact sciences with artificial intelligence entitled: “The Chilean waiting list corpus”.

“We created the first annotated corpus in Chile. It is fundamentally a body of clinical and real text from the waiting list, annotated with clinical knowledge. It is a multidisciplinary project that has to do with linguistics and health. It lasted two years, was financed by the Center for Mathematical Modeling and culminated in a paper that won The Best Paper Award at a conference and many papers have come out of it, including one with the Ministry of Health. Basically, it is a work of many people, very collective that started in 2018 and is being awarded today”, said Dunstan, also an academic at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a researcher at the Millennium Institute Fundamentals of Data.

“The idea is to teach computers automatically to detect key patient information. Because one could have an inter-consultation, which is real in the waiting list in public hospitals, and the government would be interested, for example, in knowing what diseases are mentioned to make statistics, campaigns, telemedicine and a lot of other things. It has an application in the waiting list. Not only in identifying a disease automatically, but coding it, which is assigning a unique disease code and that allows, for example, the ministry to make its heat maps of consultations and also to share statistics internationally. This material is also being used by the Chilean Safety Association (ACHS), for example, to penalize occupational accidents”, she added.


Regarding the award for scientific excellence to “Adelina Gutiérrez Young Researcher” -which includes an economic contribution of US$1,500-, Jocelyn Dunstan said that “being a scientist, one often hears about the Chilean Academy of Sciences and it is very nice to come to this building for the first time. The prize undoubtedly marks a consolidation or an important boost. I did not win the first year I applied, and the second year I felt that mini things accumulated that allow you to apply, besides the book (Una Mirada a la Era de los Datos, written with Felipe Tobar and Alejandro Maass) had come out. I think that sometimes you need to have confidence in yourself and say ‘I’m going to apply to this thing because I’m cool’. Particularly women, we have the problem of recognizing all our work because we don’t want to be self-congratulatory, but there are times when it is necessary to remember all the things that have been done”.

“Visibilization maybe for a man might sound like, ‘yeah, but why is it so important?’ And it’s like, maybe they’ve never been the only one of your gender at a meeting or teaching a class. So when there’s that level of underrepresentation, this kind of visibilization is critical. It’s what gives support to continue, it also allows you to put it on your CV and, sometimes, get a better job position,” she added.

For the President of the Chilean Academy of Sciences, María Cecilia Hidalgo, “Jocelyn’s case, as she showed in her presentation, is trying to use artificial intelligence to make health diagnoses. Clearly her topic is fascinating, because it involves so many different areas (…) I would like this to be much more widely disseminated, so that the excellence of the science being done by our young scientists in Chile is known, and how they deal with topics that are so diverse and important for the future development of Chile”.

The event also awarded Jovanna Cottin (2023) in the area of exact sciences and Fabiola Osorio (2022) and Loreto Abusleme (2023) in natural sciences. The awards for “Doctoral Thesis” in exact sciences went to Santiago Tassara (2022) and Sebastián Echeverría (2023), and in natural sciences to Felipe Baeza (2022) and Juan Guïza (2023).

Relive the ceremony here:

By Alonso Farías Ponce, CMM journalist.

Posted on Nov 30, 2023 in Frontpage, News