Juan Reutter and Aidan Hogan are the new directors of the IMFD

December, 2023 – Scientific research, when accompanied by a process of self-reflection, and when its leaders listen to and integrate the ideas of younger researchers, has a greater chance not only of renewing its perspective but also of being more connected with what society needs.

This is the vision of Marcelo Arenas, full professor and academic in the Department of Computer Science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, about the change in leadership at the Millennium Institute Foundational Research on Data (IMFD) for its second period (2023-2028). In this process of gradual transition, Pablo Barceló, director of the Institute of Mathematical and Computational Engineering UC, left in 2022 the position of deputy director.

Starting from December 2023, Juan Reutter de la Maza officially assumes the role of principal director, and Aidan Hogan as deputy director of IMFD, roles they had been fulfilling since June 2023, at the beginning of the sixth year of operations of the IMFD, a research center funded by the Millennium Scientific Initiative, of the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development (ANID).

Juan Reutter de la Maza is an associate professor and head of Postgraduate Studies in the Department of Computer Science at the Catholic University of Chile (DCC UC). Additionally, he is an academic at the Institute of Mathematical and Computational Engineering at the Catholic University (IMC UC).

One of my goals for the new IMFD five-year period is to enhance the science-based innovation that the IMFD has been creating in recent years. We have experience in the medical science field with the KoR Test platform we developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also successfully applied the thick-data methodology to study complex social phenomena, with projects such as the Telar Platform and our studies of sacrifice zones,” says Juan Reutter.

These experiences are complemented by new projects, including MillenniumDB, a powerful graph database search engine, whose promising applications demonstrate it is highly competitive compared with other engines in the market.

IMFD has been known so far for our scientists who are leaders in their fields, generating knowledge at the forefront of research. Now want to be known for being creators of innovation as well, for our developments that can be applied to substantial improvements in various fields,” adds the new director of IMFD.

Focus on innovation and strengthening the student community

Aidan Hogan, Ph.D. in Computer Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway, is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chile. In this university, the academic has been awarded as Best Undergraduate Teacher in 2016 and 2020. Hogan has been a significant advocate for connecting different areas of computer science within the IMFD, such as database systems with graph query languages.

One of Hogan’s initial goals would be to increase IMFD’s participation and visibility in the institute’s associated universities, starting this at the University of Chile. “Furthermore, I would like to strengthen the student community at IMFD, creating spaces where they can share experiences, and perspectives, and receive support. This goal is of the highest priority to me, considering that students are emerging from the isolation associated with the pandemic, and its impact is still felt in various dimensions.”

Both researchers also share the main objectives of IMFD: promoting high-impact research for the benefit of society, increasing IMFD’s international visibility as a center of excellence, fostering new collaborations among people who had not done research together before, and training the next generation of experts to address the challenges of a society increasingly driven by data.


Strengthening the path for interdisciplinarity

For both Reutter and Hogan, to continue the work done by Marcelo Arenas and Pablo Barceló represents a significant challenge, but also an opportunity to enrich what has been achieved by these academics. “Creating novel collaborations among scientists with expertise in such diverse areas as statistics, political science, communications, and computer science is a massive challenge, one that requires not only leadership in scientific terms but also in human terms. It also requires openness and creativity to bring together different disciplines. This is something that Marcelo and Pablo achieved remarkably and will be an example to follow,” says Aidan Hogan.

For Reutter, the outstanding evaluation at the end of the first five-year period of the IMFD is evidence of the incomparable capabilities of Arenas and Barceló, who started and fostered the institute. “They have left us a legacy that allows us to look into the future, with interdisciplinary scientific research that keeps us at the forefront in Latin America. Their leadership was also characterized by creating an environment at IMFD that is not only professional but also open to new ideas, pluralistic, and friendly. Their achievements provide a solid foundation for further progress in the next five years,” concludes Reutter.

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