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Visit by Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek Strengthens and Expands DFG Partnerships in Brazil and Argentina

(11/06/12) Between 21 - 25 October 2012, DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek visited the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH) in Sao Paulo and several research institutions and organisations in Brazil and Argentina.

In Sao Paulo her first stop was the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), a private institution of higher education. Academic staff members Dr. Oliver Stünkel and Dr. Elena Lazarou introduced the Secretary General to the FGV, its study and research programmes in International Relations (established in 2009), and its partnerships with German researchers. They also discussed the relevance of the FGV research and teaching programmes to Brazilian society.

By way of contrast the Secretary General then visited the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), a public university. This institution is one of Brazil's most structured universities and one of the country's most active in terms of research. Ms. Dzwonnek met the Vice President for Graduate Affairs, Prof. Dr. Euclides de Mesquita Neto, and the Vice President for Research, Prof. Dr. Ronaldo Aloise Pilli, who explained the university's main areas of research and discussed programmes for early career researchers and international partnership opportunities. This was followed by a tour of the Institute of Biology, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Medical Sciences. Ms. Dzwonnek was introduced to individual collaborative projects with German partners, giving her an insight into current areas of research.

The main aim of the visit to the DWIH in Sao Paulo was to introduce individual members in Brazil and other Latin American countries and their main areas of activity. Ms. Dzwonnek also spoke to members about future activities and the general outlook for the DWIH.

DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek at the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH) in Sao Paulo

Ms. Dzwonnek's visit to Argentina began with a meeting with Prof. Dr. Ruben Hallu, President of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), the largest university in Argentina and the most active in terms of research in Latin America. The Secretary General then visited the Faculty of Natural Sciences to find out more about collaborative projects with German partners in various disciplines and spoke with the Dean, Prof. Dr. Jorge Aliaga, and Vice-Dean Prof. Dr. Juan Carlos Reboreda about opportunities for collaboration.

In conversation with Prof. Dr. Carlos Salvarezza, president of the Argentinean research funding organisation CONICET, Ms. Dzwonnek discussed the possibility of joint funding of International Research Training Groups and the strengthening of relations between the two organisations. The Secretary General also met with Secretary Dr. Alejandro Ceccato from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MINCYT) to discuss the possibility of collaboration between the DFG and the Ministry and what form such a partnership might take.

At a lunch with 19 invited guests from the various universities and research funding organisations she visited, as well as the German embassy, Ms. Dzwonnek emphasised once again the importance to the DFG of strengthening and expanding its relations with Argentina. In a short address, Ambassador Bernhard Graf von Waldersee expressed his full support of this aim.

The trip to Argentina concluded with a visit to the Universidad Nacional de San Martin. The Secretary General met the rector of the university, Prof. Dr. Carlos Ruta, and other members of the academic staff from various faculties, who introduced her to their various core research areas in biotechnology, environmental sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. Ms. Dzwonnek also saw the new Centre for German and European Studies and discussed with staff the university's international and interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research.