Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Professor Juan Armesto is appointed a Foreign Member of the United States Academy of Sciences

Juan Armesto was selected in recognition of his distinguished and continuing scientific and educational achievements and is expected to join the Environmental Sciences and Ecology Section of the United States Academy of Sciences. 


On April 26, the researcher of the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, and president of the Senda Darwin Foundation, Juan Armesto, was elected as a Foreign Fellow of the United States Academy of Sciences.

In this announcement, 120 new members were appointed, among which, 59 correspond to women, and 30 to international members. With this designation, the ecologist becomes the ninth Chilean to belong to the NAS, a list that also includes two more researchers from the IEB: Mary Kalin and Pablo Marquet. Meanwhile, Jorge Allende, Juan Carlos Castilla, Claudio Bunster, Francisco Bezanilla, Ramón Latorre and Juan Carlos Sáez, are the other Chilean scientists who are part of this network.

Juan Armesto was selected in recognition of his distinguished and continuous scientific and educational achievements and it is expected that he will be able to join the Environmental Sciences and Ecology Section of the NAS.

“This appointment is a great honor for me. It is a great pride to be able to join this Academy and be accompanied by an elite group in science. On the other hand, it seems relevant to me to be another Chilean who joins the NAS, as this allows us to give our country greater participation and representation, in an entity with a worldwide scope ”, said the ecologist and researcher at the Faculty of Biological Sciences .

Marcia McNutt, president of the United States Academy of Sciences, also provided her views after the announcement: “I am pleased to welcome all of our new members and look forward to participating with them in the work of the National Academies.”

“It is a great pride to be able to join this Academy and be accompanied by an elite group in science. On the other hand, it seems relevant to me to be another Chilean who joins the NAS, as this allows us to give our country greater participation and representation, in an entity with a worldwide scope ”- Juan Armesto, IEB researcher, from UC.

Meanwhile, the International Secretary of NAC, John Hildebrand, indicated through a letter that they hope that Juan Armesto and the other designated persons can join the work of the Academy, assuming responsibilities in this entity “which deals with important matters of science, and provides evidence-based advice ”.

The appointment of Juan Armesto joins the recent announcement of the Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award, from the Ecological Society of America (ESA). This award was given to him for his numerous studies on our biodiversity and ecosystems, promotion of conservation, creation of national and international research networks, and his commitment to environmental education for decades, among other outstanding contributions.

In addition, in January 2021, the UC researcher was elected as a Corresponding Member of the Chilean Academy of Sciences, an entity that seeks to build knowledge, debate and expand science and its contributions to society.

“I am pleased to welcome all of our new members and look forward to participating with them in the work of the National Academies” -Marcia McNutt, president of the United States Academy of Sciences.

Chilean ecologists at NAS
Pablo Marquet, researcher at the IEB, from the Catholic University , and a member of the NAS, expressed his opinion on this appointment: “This is one of the highest recognitions to which a scientist can aspire, and it implies a trajectory of relevant contributions to the world science. In Juan’s case, his contribution to the knowledge of ecosystems, their functioning and their conservation, from a broad and holistic perspective is recognized.

What relevance does it have for Chilean science and in this case, for ecology, to have a new member within the NAS, from our country? For Pablo Marquet, this is an “unmistakable symptom of the world quality of ecological science that is being developed in Chile, a quality founded on great efforts, without a doubt, but which has borne fruit at the height of these sacrifices. It is also a message for younger scientists, a model of what it is to do frontier science, and develop it from Chile ”.

The National Academy of Sciences of the United States was created in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, in order to provide advice to the nation that rose after a bloody civil war. And its mission until today is, precisely, to serve people with the best possible science that allows governments to make the best decisions.

“In Juan’s case, his contribution to the knowledge of ecosystems, their functioning and their conservation, from a broad and holistic perspective, is recognized” – Pablo Marquet, IEB researcher at UC.

In this context, Marquet pointed out that being part of this enormous network and living the experience of a community of excellence dedicated to public service “is very moving and represents a great teaching that I hope one day we could replicate in our country. It is also relevant to live together every year during the annual meeting with great scientists and to be able to collaborate in global initiatives. Added to this is the implication of belonging to this group, as a mark of distinction, ”says the IEB scientist .

Regarding the possibility of establishing and working towards the fulfillment of great goals and objectives in ecological and environmental matters, with great support, Pablo Marquet said that, indeed, NAS is an entity that provides support and provides an important platform to raise issues that impact our present and future, also opening their doors to the youngest.

“You can always participate in a variety of studies that are conducted year after year at the request of the United States government, many of which address global issues. On the other hand, every member of the Academy is known as a “member editor”, which implies his participation as editor of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) , and the possibility of handling works at the request of one of the members of the Editorial Board. All of these are instances to make the good science of Chile and the region visible on issues of global relevance ”, Marquet points out.

“Being part of NAS also implies certain duties, without a doubt, and we hope that with this also, a greater support for national science and the creation and strengthening of more national and international ties” – Juan Armesto, UC researcher.

For Juan Armesto himself, the fact that the NAS can count on three Chilean researchers from the area of ecology and environment, “is a clear sign of push, for those of us who are concerned about these issues that are global in scope.”

“The NAS has policy relevance at the United States level, but also internationally. And it is an entity that also allows us to express our opinion and discuss great science issues, in which we, as Chileans, have a voice to contribute there. Being part of NAS also implies certain duties, without a doubt, and we hope that with this also, a greater support for national science and the creation and strengthening of more national and international links ”, added Armesto.

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