In a public session held on January 17, the Chilean Academy of Sciences awarded the Chilean Academy of Sciences Medal 2023 to Dr. Rafael Correa Fontecilla, former rector of the Universidad de O’Higgins and associate researcher at the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the Universidad de Chile; this distinction was granted by unanimous vote, recognizing the outstanding contribution of this outstanding academic to the development of science in the country.
“We would like to highlight Dr. Correa for his academic career and his tireless work in the development of science in our country, which have undoubtedly left an invaluable legacy. We recognize his commitment to scientific research and the training of new researchers, and we celebrate his outstanding contribution to the progress of science and education in Chile,” said Dr. María Cecilia Hidalgo, president of the Chilean Academy of Sciences.
On the occasion, Dr. Correa thanked those who nominated him for the award, as well as those who have been collaborators in his work: “I feel very, very honored and I value it deeply, I think that part of what the Academy is should be to recognize certain trajectories; because a trajectory is not only a person, but also many people”.
The academic also referred to his career: “I am guided very much by intuition and I am a person who has a certain passion for building, who has a vocation for service. I like to do things with which many of us benefit. How do I do it? I look for people who I am convinced are knowledgeable, and the second part is to enthuse them, forming teams that are very interesting and that really produce ideas. This is how, for example, the centers of excellence in this country were born; the first one, the Center for Mathematical Modeling; and later I was in charge of the Center for Advanced Research in Education”.
Dr. Correa is currently a professor at the Department of Mathematical Engineering of the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile and a researcher at the Center for Mathematical Modeling.
During his prolific career, he has played several key roles in the scientific community: He was executive director of Conicyt between 1990 and 1997, leading the implementation of competitive funds for scientific research in the country and promoting international collaboration. In addition, he pioneered the creation of the Center for Mathematical Modeling and the Center for Advanced Research in Education (CIAE), facing educational challenges and promoting the development of science in crucial areas for the progress of society.
In 2015, President Michelle Bachelet appointed him rector of the recently created Universidad de O’Higgins; likewise, his work has transcended national borders, showing himself as an exceptional doer who has turned his talents to the service of Chile.
The Chilean Academy of Sciences Medal, created by the Corporation in September 2006, seeks to honor those individuals who have stood out for their actions in the promotion of science in Chile.
By Carla Morales, Comunicaciones Academia Chilena de Ciencias