The ceremony, which took place at the Palacio de La Moneda, awarded Jaime San Martín, associate researcher at the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the University of Chile and scientific director of the National Laboratory for High Performance Computing (NLHPC), in Exact Sciences.
The President of the Republic of Chile, Gabriel Boric Font, led the presentation of the National Prizes 2023 held in the Los Cañones courtyard of the Palacio de La Moneda. “It is nice to see how your work is intertwined with the history of Chile and unfailingly with its future”, said the Mandatory, who this year recognized professionals for their exceptional contributions to the country in six disciplines.
At the ceremony, the award winners received their recognition from the Head of State and the Ministers of Education, Nicolás Cataldo; of Cultures, Arts and Heritage, Carolina Arredondo; and of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, Aisén Etcheverry.
The Government of Chile recognized in first place Jaime San Martín Aristegui in Exact Sciences. Mathematical civil engineer from the University of Chile, master’s degree and PhD in Statistics from Purdue University in the United States, and full professor at the University of Chile, where he has directed since 2013 the National Laboratory for High Performance Computing (NLHPC), at the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of that house of studies. He currently heads a Latin American network in the exploration of large science databases, known as big data, which is one of the greatest contemporary challenges.
Before the presentation of the National Prize, San Martín was surprised with a video message from Soledad Torres, his “disciple” and current Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation at the U. of Valparaíso and associated researcher at the CMM. “He was my guiding professor during my PhD. I have known him for more than 30 years and, in that sense, Jaime is an exceptional academic researcher in the field of probabilities, not only nationally, but internationally. As his student, actually former student, I can attest that Jaime is much more than a mentor. He is a friend and guide who teaches us to embrace all challenges and persevere in our quest for knowledge”.
“One of the legacies that go beyond his academic work, Jaime has been a catalyst in a scientific community, always fostering collaborations that have reached significant achievement. He has made more than 40 institutions and research centers come together around a great challenge and a great project for Chile. That is why I would like to thank Jaime for everything he has done, what he is doing and what he will undoubtedly continue to do in the coming years“, he added.
Coffee at CMM
In his speech, Jaime San Martín began by highlighting the “honor” he felt at “obtaining this award together with such distinguished Chilean men and women” and emphasized his family, especially his wife and his teachers. “Endless companion. This is an achievement of both of us. Fifty-one percent is yours. I would like to greet my children and friends, but without a doubt I would like to deeply thank the most important people in my life, my teachers, to whom I owe not only what I learned, but who I am”, he said.
“We call ourselves a caring society. I would rather say charitable, which is the exercise of solidarity in very limited moments of time and in certain circumstances only. True solidarity is exercised every day that those of us who have more must pay more, that those of us who had opportunities with our work give them back, opening opportunities for others, especially those we do not know. That is the most important thing“, he emphasized.
In this line, he assured that “a good example of this is the network that my dear Soledad Torres mentioned, where institutions share a dream of having a supercomputer for Chile. This supercomputer with equal access to everyone, from Arica to Punta Arenas. Whatever your university, research center or government agency, this is part of our DNA, it is part of the DNA of the Center for Mathematical Modeling, which I send you a big hug where I work at the University of Chile. Mr. President, if you invite me to a coffee, I can tell you all this in more detail or, even better, we can invite you to a coffee at the center”.
In response to the invitation of the National Prize for Exact Sciences, President Gabriel Boric replied in his speech that “I immediately accept the coffee at the Center for Mathematical Modeling, so that we can talk and you can tell me more about your work, but I know that this has ventured to explore the large databases to help us better understand knowledge in which Chile is a world leader”.
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Other National Prizes 2023
The National Journalism Prize 2023 was awarded to Patricia Stambuk Mayorga, a journalist with an outstanding career as a reporter, correspondent, editor, chronicler, media director, academic, writer and researcher. Her work has been marked by a strong commitment to the cultures and values of regional societies, as well as to human rights, especially in Magallanes, where she became a recognized voice in radio programs after September 11, 1973. She was the first university journalist to work as such in Punta Arenas and the first woman journalist to be incorporated as a full member of the Chilean Academy of Language.
During the award ceremony, Patricia Stambuk stated that “there are many duties that society demands of us in this profession that has more sacrifices than rewards and as we are the most public of professions, we are permanently exposed to public criticism, which should not discourage and embitter us (…). Nor can we appropriate the concept of freedom of expression, because it is or should be inherent to the human condition, nor is it desirable to become untouchable catons. The confluence between the State, governments, political power, press, journalistic companies and journalists is inevitable and complicated, but we must never forget that we tread the same ground and share the same sky”.
In Educational Sciences this year, Juan Eduardo García-Huidobro, PhD in Educational Sciences and Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium (1976), was distinguished. In 1969 he joined the Center for Research and Development of Education (CIDE), where he contributed to non-formal training experiences, participating in popular education processes, in contact with Paulo Freire. He also worked as a professor and director at the Catholic University and at CIDE. In the 90’s he founded the Faculty of Education that integrates the CIDE to the Alberto Hurtado University. That same decade he joined the Ministry of Education, where he participated in the design and direction of the 900 Schools Program and in the Coordination of Basic Education of the program for the Improvement of Quality and Equity in Education (MECE Básica). He was also head of the General Education Division of the Mineduc and directed the preparation of the Continuing Education and Training Program.
García-Huidobro highlighted the work of Chilean teachers, who “get the dirt off their backs every day” and expressed, on the recognition, his willingness to “share it as much as possible and thank them, of course”. “It is a recognition of my life’s work,” she added.
The National Prize for Humanities and Social Sciences 2023 went to Gastón Soublette Amussen, musicologist, columnist and art critic, researcher, essayist and scholar of the popular and traditional dimensions of Chilean cultures, Eastern philosophy and musicology.
In addition, he has been an academic at the Faculty of Philosophy and Aesthetics of the Catholic University of Chile for 46 years and has also worked at the University of Chile and the Metropolitan University of Education Sciences. He studied Architecture and Law. He studied Musical Composition and Musicology at the Paris Conservatory with Nadia Boulanger and Edmond Marc. In his more than 60 years of academic career, he has dedicated himself to research and to the training of different generations of students, remaining faithful to his ideas. He has an extensive work, multidisciplinary in the humanistic, covering history, art theory, Eastern philosophical thought, literature and cinema, contributing to the dialogue between faith and culture.
In his words of thanks, Soublette expressed: “You can imagine, Mr. President, how honored I feel at this important moment in my life to receive this award (…) Academics, and that is what I have always been, we work in community. As time goes by, we create an environment of academic interaction, those of us who form the faculty of an academic unit or a faculty. So the achievements and professional improvement of each one of us benefit all our colleagues”.
In the category of Plastic Arts, the award was given to Cecilia Vicuña Ramírez, a pioneer in conceptual art in Chile. In April 2022 she became the first Latin American artist to receive the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the 59th Venice Biennale, the most important contemporary art award in the world.
She was the creator of the artistic collective Tribu No -also formed by Claudio Bertoni, Sonia Jara, Francisco Rivera, Coca Roccatagliata and Marcelo Charlín- and co-founded Artist for Democracy in London, which during the dictatorship made visible the human rights violations in Chile and supported the struggle for democracy. She has received recognitions such as the Velázquez Prize for the Plastic Arts from the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports (2019); the 2011 Seal of Excellence, awarded by the Chilean National Council for Culture and the Arts; appointment as Honorary Member of the Academy of Arts and Letters of the United States (2023); the Pablo Neruda Lifetime Achievement Award (2018); the Arts Council of Great Britain Award, United Kingdom (1974); or the Arts International Award, Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, New York, USA (1992).
At the ceremony, Cecilia Vicuña said that “my prayer, as José de Nordenflycht rightly said, is that this award will serve for the union and alliance of all the artists, creators, educators, ecologists of Chile, who are already working in a new movement of love for the territory; of love for ancestral wisdom. To all of them, the wise women, my mothers and grandmothers, I owe what I have been able to do in this life. And it is for those who come and those who come that I fly this flag”.
The Performing and Audiovisual Arts award recognized the work of Patricio Guzmán Lozanes, filmmaker, screenwriter, researcher, producer, film theorist and teacher, who has dedicated his career to documentary filmmaking. Between 1972 and 1979 he made “The Battle of Chile”, a five-hour trilogy on the government of Salvador Allende and its fall, which laid the foundations of his cinema.
In his extensive career, several of his productions have been premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, including “The Battle of Chile”, “The Pinochet Case”, “Salvador Allende”, “Nostalgia for the Light” and “The Mountain Range of Dreams”. With the latter he won the Golden Eye at Cannes in 2019, and was the first documentary in history to be recognized with a Goya for Best Ibero-American Film 2022. With “Nostalgia for the Light” he received the European Academy Grand Prix in 2010, while “The Pearl Button” won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival in 2015. His most recent film, “My Imaginary Country,” was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2022. He chairs the Santiago de Chile International Documentary Film Festival (FIDOCS), which he founded in 1997.
Through a video projected at the ceremony, Patricio Guzmán said that “it is very nice when you make films for fun, when you don’t know how these films will end. When you play with the confusion of public life, of people’s lives, of the life of the country. That’s what I have done for 50 years, it has been difficult, but no more difficult than your work, President”.
New project of Law
The Minister of Education, Nicolás Cataldo, valued the people recognized with the National Awards, assuring that they have made “contributions that have been very significant for our country and that today are placed at the center of this recognition made by the State of Chile to their trajectories”.
The authority of the Mineduc valued that “President Boric mandated us to look for ways to make these works transcend. That they do not remain just a tribute in a specific moment, like today, but to give projection to the construction that they have done for decades, to transfer all that experience, that knowledge and those works to the future of the country”. To this, he added that “above all, we gather it from the world of education, from the world of culture, from the world of science, in order to project in future generations these contributions that have been so significant throughout years of trajectory, thought, research and creation”.
Along with the presentation of the National Awards, President Boric announced to all those present that “we have sent a bill to the National Congress, so that the National Literature Award will be presented every year. In this way, one year we will be able to award narrative and the following year, poetry, and we will be able to resume this important literary tradition of our country”.
About the National Awards
The National Prizes have been awarded since 1942 and are the highest awards granted by the State of Chile to the work of Chilean individuals who stand out for their excellence, creativity, transcendent contribution to national culture and the development of knowledge and the arts.
These awards are governed by Law 19,169, which establishes a biannual award in eleven disciplines: Exact Sciences, Journalism, Educational Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Performing and Audiovisual Arts and Plastic Arts; in addition to Literature, Natural Sciences, Applied and Technological Sciences, History and Musical Arts.
Since 2018, the awarding of the prizes is shared between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage.
Relive the complete ceremony:
By Alonso Farías Ponce, CMM journalist and Mineduc Communications.