Margarita Carú was distinguished by her peers in the framework of the Forty-first Meeting of the Microbiology Society of Chile, an instance in which the academic of the same unit, Julieta Orlando, presented a summary of her life, scientific work and commitment to science. training of multiple generations of professionals and researchers.
The genetics of filamentous fungi, soil microbiology and microbial ecology These have been some of the issues addressed by Professor Margarita Carú throughout her long academic career. Added to this work is her contribution and commitment to the training of professionals and specialists for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Chile. This life dedicated to research and teaching was recognized by his peers at the annual meeting that brings together microbiologists from all over the country, a meeting in which he received theLifetime Achievement Award in Microbiology.
The Forty-first Meeting of the Microbiology Society of Chile, held between November 5 and 8 in the city of Puerto Varas, was the setting for the delivery of this recognition, an occasion in which Professor Carú pointed out that “after 41 years in university activity and making a brief retrospective of the path traveled, I can only be grateful for having had the opportunity to be part of the academic adventure”.
Within the framework of the award, the academic of the Faculty of Sciences of the U. de Chile,Julieta Orlando, recapitulated various highlights in the career of Professor Carú. In her intervention, she highlighted her strong institutional commitment, assuming various administrative and management positions in the institution, from her role as director of the Undergraduate School for 12 years to her position as vice-dean of this academic unit.
He also presented a summary of his contribution to the discipline since the beginning of his scientific career, particularly the recognition of his work with the actinobacteriaFrankia, research with which he established a collection of cultures of this bacterium that has been consulted as a reference by the international scientific community. Along with this, he reviewed his later work asone of the pioneers in the field of microbial ecology in Chile, investigating symbiotic interactions, the biogeography of microorganisms and biological invasions, among other areas in which he innovated for national science.
During her speech, Professor Carú reflected: “How did I get interested in Microbial Ecology? To be honest, I would have to say that it was through teaching that it forced me to have a different view of microorganisms, not only as isolated entities and in culture, but as part of communities”.
Regarding his teaching experience, working with undergraduate and graduate students, he added, it has been enormously enriching for me and I hope I have contributed in part to his academic training. That is why I consider it my duty to share this recognition with them, since they are the engine that drives the research work ”. For Professor Orlando, this is one of the qualities most valued by the scientific community that awarded this distinction, since throughout her career she has contributed to the training of countless professionals and renowned scientists.
CARU teacher did not pass the instance to make areflection on the national contingency, specifically in relation to the role of academics in society that has been built and the general feeling of discontent. In this sense, he questioned himself: “how many times do our actions contribute to inequality? As scientists and as teachers we are systematically involved in evaluation processes, and without a doubt in all these processes we value the merits of the applicants; And I believe in meritocracy, but we cannot forget the circumstances of those who apply and their environment. Do we give fair value to all activities or do we value some more than others? Is it the same to start a line of research? or being part of a very productive research group? Do we evaluate research in the same way as teaching? Do we feel that we waste time when we participate in an accreditation, because that time is not evaluated on its merit? Is there equity in our university institutions?
His analysis continued with questions about the teaching role of the university academic. “Are we adequately evaluating our students? Are we interested in their progress and learning or are they only thinking like us? Are we concerned with training professionals committed to the needs of the people or are we more concerned with the graduation rate? and more closely, are we making every effort to train scientists and not specialists concerned only with their subject of study?” he asked in his speech.
This reflection was not immune from a personal questioning, asking himself: "How many times with my actions did I not add a few grains of sand to unbalance the balance and increase the inequality gaps? How many times have I not defended with more force what I believed Was it fair, or did I just miss the opportunity to do something? "
Professor Carú's speech started the group reflection sessions that took place during the Forty-first Meeting of the Society of Microbiology of Chile. The scientific meeting brought together more than 300 attendees to present the scientific advances of the discipline. AtIn addition, a two-day meeting was held in which issues related to the current situation that the country is going through were discussed, instance that had the participation of the Undersecretariat of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation and the Seremi de Ciencia of the South Macrozone.
The Lifetime Achievement Award in Microbiology was awarded to Professor Carú for her contribution to the development of national microbiology from research and teaching.
The academic from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Chile, Julieta Orlando, highlighted the scientific work, educational work and institutional commitment of Professor Carú throughout her career.
His work with the actinobacteria Frankia, research with which he established a collection of cultures of this bacterium, has been consulted as a reference by the international scientific community.
Text: Cristian Fuentes