Fields Medal Winner Meets with Brazil President and Asks for More Investment in Science

Brazil president Rousseff meets Artur Avila from Impa Mathematician Artur Avila, recipient of the Fields Medal, regarded as the Nobel prize of mathematics, was welcomed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the presidential palace along with fellow mathematicians Jacob Palis, head of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, and César Camacho, director at the National Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics.

The three scholars took the opportunity afforded by the 45-minute-long meeting to suggest the expansion of the government’s investments in science, technology, research and development.

Jacob Palis stated that he and his peers argued that the investments in the area should amount to 2 percent of the country gross domestic product (GDP). Today, he claims, the government uses 1.2%.

“China is nearly reaching two percent. We’ve presented to the president the challenge of setting this figure as a goal in her next term of office,” he said.

According to Palis, Rousseff seemed to “sympathize with the idea,” but refrained from making any commitment.

Once an Impa student, today a researcher at the same institute, Artur Avila said that the institute was introduced to the president as a model for other institutions.

“Impa’s administration is flexible, and this makes it possible for talents to be made good use of, during training programs and also in the recruitment of researchers, from both Brazil and abroad.”

Impa Director Celso Camacho mentioned that holding a diploma is not a requirement at the institute. This has attracted young applicants and helped the institute detect young geniuses in mathematics and other sciences, Camacho says.

“Impa has adhered to the following basic principle: any decision has to follow extremely strict criteria of scientific merit.”

Artur Avila is the only winner of the Fields Medal to have obtained a diploma in an emerging  country. Having also won two gold medals in the Brazilian Math Olympiad, the scholar said the event encourages students to delve deeper into science.

“The Olympiad is an efficient way, in Brazil and also other countries, to find talents and motivate children to go for mathematics. The problems posed by the exams are way more interesting than those presented at school. They’re a lot more challenging, and compel students to search more eagerly for answers. The [competition] has brought several talents to light,” he added.

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