Researchers Dr. Jahn Petter Johnsen, Dr. Víctor Smetacek, and Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra visited IDEAL Center facilities in Valdivia and Punta Arenas to evaluate its second year of performance.

From left to right: Dr. Víctor Smetacek, Dr. Jahn Petter Johnsen, and Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra.

The International Science Committee (ISC) of the Center for the Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) visited the Valdivia and Punta Arenas branches to evaluate the development of the second year of this FONDAP project.

The ISC is composed of researchers Dr. Jahn Petter Johnsen (University of Tromso, Norway), Dr. Víctor Smetacek (Department of Oceanography of the Alfred Wegener Institute, AWI, Germany), and Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra (Director of the Austral Center of Scientific Research, CADIC, Argentina).

During the first two days, the ISC participated in presentations organized by the Center’s five research lines. Participants included undergraduate and graduate students, research assistants, associate researchers, and principal investigators. With each group, the ISC discussed the main advances and achievements of the last year, as well as challenges and projections for year 3. They also recommended ways to achieve greater integration between the different research programs.

“I believe the performance of the Center has been very good,” said Dr. Jahn Petter Johnsen. “Many things have been done since the previous evaluation, but now comes the difficult part: producing innovative research. We will see what we can propose about how to do it.”

Dr. Víctor Smetacek sees the progress during the two years of the Center in a very positive light, highlighting the motivation of the scientists and students. “This is important, as scientists are the window to the ocean. Through microscopes and experiments, they must account for what is happening. To do this, they must have more interaction with the public and present the organisms that live in it, because people only see the surface.”

He also stressed the urgent need for information from the ocean for decision-making regarding sustainable use in the coming years. “We must change the way we relate to the oceans, especially considering the severe effects of climate change which are very rapidly approaching. Punta Arenas will be greatly affected and we must consider what to do in the next 100 years to take prevention measures,” commented Smetacek.

Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra, who is part of the ISC for the first time, highlighted the openness and transparency of the process. He compared IDEAL Center with what exists in Argentina regarding marine sciences, and acknowledged that there is nothing similar. “We want to use it as an example”, he said. He also stressed the importance of taking into account the contributions that students can make: “They are the ones who will continue with the post and they must think independently.”

IDEAL Center director presenting to the International Science Committee.

In Punta Arenas, the ISC visited the new facilities of the Center’s laboratory and met with IDEAL students and researchers who reside in this city.

IDEAL Center director, Dr. Humberto González, considers the evaluation by scientists with great international trajectory to be an important contribution. “They represent a first filter of how we are doing things and what we can improve,” he concluded.