The "Visiting Researchers" programme of the Occident Foundation strengthens the commitment to attract prestigious scientific personnel to the IAC

Participants in the "Visiting Researchers" programme of Fundació Occident who stayed at the IAC in 2023
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Nine internationally renowned specialists in the field of astrophysics have participated this year in the "Visiting Researchers" programme of the Occident Foundation (formerly the Jesús Serra Foundation), spending a minimum of one month and up to three months at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). As in previous editions, the invited researchers have been able to work together with members of the scientific teams of the different lines of research of this institute.

The "Visiting Researchers" programme aims to attract the presence of internationally renowned researchers to strengthen scientific activity at the host centres and promote innovative lines of cooperation between scientific institutions around the world. Within the framework of this programme, the collaboration agreement between the Occident Foundation and the IAC began in 2014, coinciding with the first period of the IAC's accreditation as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a Spanish government seal of excellence that recognises, rewards and promotes research at national centres of high scientific level.

Since the collaboration began, the "Visiting Researchers" programme of the Occident Foundation has made it possible for 43 internationally renowned researchers to stay at the IAC. The participants in the 2023 edition were: Sebastián Sánchez and José A. de Diego (UNAM), Cristina Chiappini (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam), Davide Masari and Claudia M. Raiteri (INAF), Rogério Riffel (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), Julian Sitarek (University of Lodz), Minia Manteiga (University of La Coruña) and Noelia Martínez Rey (The Australian National University).

"Thanks to this stay I was able to work closely, above all, with the members of the astroparticle group involved in the MAGIC and LST collaboration," explains researcher Julian Sitarek who, during his stay at the IAC, has collaborated in the 'Cosmology and Astroparticles' line. "The face-to-face conversations have been fruitful to push forward projects in which we are involved and to finally meet people with whom I was only collaborating at a distance. I am sure that this stay will facilitate future joint projects" he adds.

Also in the line of 'Cosmology and Astroparticles' has worked Claudia M. Raiteri: "I was able to strengthen ties with my collaborators at the IAC; I participated in a seminar to present the results of my research; I attended seminars and met and exchanged ideas with new people; I visited the laboratories and saw the impressive technologies being developed there; I was able to get to know the Teide Observatory and the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory... It was one of the best experiences of my life, both from a professional and personal point of view, and I am really grateful to the IAC and the Fundación Occident Visitors Programme for making it possible".

The researcher also underlines the usefulness of the visiting researchers programme: "I think these kinds of initiatives that promote exchange between scientists are extremely useful. Even though we live in times when it is possible to establish contacts online, meeting in person is invaluable in promoting scientific collaboration".

For his part, another researcher invited by the 'Milky Way and the Local Group' line, Davide Masari, highlights the interest of the Occident Foundation programme as an engine to accelerate research work: "My projects received an impressive boost thanks to the very suitable environment I found at the IAC and the interaction with the very active and collaborative people at the centre. One scientific paper that I completed during my stay has already been published, and two others are in progress. In addition, I had the opportunity to discuss possible funding projects in collaboration with IAC researchers".

The scientist also points out how important this programme has been for him to be able to continue developing his scientific activity at a time when circumstances were not favourable: "This type of initiative is literally fundamental for the development of science. Personally, I had a critical lack of funds that prevented me from interacting directly with my collaborators, and I was only able to overcome this problem thanks to the Fundació Occident programme. In a sentence, I would say that this programme has driven science that I would not have been able to do otherwise".

Researcher Rogério Riffel, also invited by the 'Cosmology and Astroparticles' line, points out the importance of continuing to promote initiatives that allow the exchange of knowledge: "I always say that science is much more collaboration than competition. Therefore, these initiatives are fundamental to enrich science. In this kind of visits, there is a very intense exchange of knowledge that is not possible or not as efficient in other ways: face-to-face meetings are much more productive than online meetings in all aspects".

The scientist also expresses his gratitude for the professional and personal experience provided by the programme: "The work-life balance I have had is very good. The IAC is a very fruitful environment for astronomy. Also, the people are lovely and have welcomed me and my family in a very warm way. The IAC is located on a lovely island, but what makes the magic happen are the people who live there".

More information:

Occident Foundation website

List of visiting researchers from the Occident Foundation at the IAC

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