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International programmes - Americas

Géraldine Clermont - 3/11/2010

STIC AmSud: on route to America

Pablo Lolito

STIC AmSud is a scientific cooperation programme that combines research and development in ICST (information and communication science and technology). It concerns France, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Its objective? To encourage and reinforce cooperation and networking between researchers in participating countries through joint projects. Each year, a call for proposals is launched from which future projects are selected.

This week, in Buenos Aires, the STIC AmSud 2010 project selection committee met to study new proposals. It was an occasion for the Argentinian mathematician, Pablo Lotito, to share his thoughts on the programme.

How did you hear about the STIC AmSud programme?

Pablo Lotito:  I first heard about it when I was doing post-doctoral research at Inria. I was conducting research in applied mathematics in Jean-Pierre Quadrat's team. Afterwards, I decided to come home to Argentina, but I wanted to continue the research I had started at Inria. For the first time, three years ago, I responded to a STIC AmSud call for projects. The call for submissions is launched each year by Inria's International Relations Department (DRI) under the auspices of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs. This programme is one of the only ones to promote cooperation between France and South American countries in the field of ICST. I then formed a team with a certain number of researchers I had met during my post-doctoral research in France, as well as Chilean and Brazilian partners. This project, which focused on hydroelectric management issues, ended last year and a student is currently finishing a joint-supervised thesis on the subject.

Tell us about your second project with STIC AmSud?

Pablo Lotito:  I am working with a team based in Argentina, in Tandil and  in Rosario, not far from Buenos Aires. The team is made up of computer specialists and mathematicians who are working with an Inria team,COMMANDS based at the Ecole Polytechnique in Saclay. I also work with Michel De Lara, from the ENPC school, and Fabien Campillo from the MERE project team, based at the Inria Sophia Antipolis centre. The project coordinators are from the IMCA mathematics institute in Peru, the department of mathematical engineering (DIM) and the  CMM mathematics centre at the University of Chile, as well as  UNICEN  university in Argentina. This project, which lasts two years, concerns "mathematical modelling of natural resource management". Our research focuses more specifically on viable and optimal crop rotation and "zoning" issues. One of the main ideas is to allocate sections of land to different activities while taking the constraints of neighbouring plots into account. We are examining which areas should be protected or not from tourism. We are also looking at the possibilities of alternating crops on the same land, from one year to another. These issues, which call for the use of mathematics, are therefore interdisciplinary.

What are the advantages of a scientific programme with such a strong international dimension?

Pablo Lotito:  Even if our methods are very similar, this type of programme offers real added value for each participant. Greater mobility for researchers is certainly one advantage. It is a prerequisite for any successful joint scientific project. Without financial support, it would be very difficult for us, here in South America, to go to France or Europe and meet the researchers we are working with. We are working, for example, with a Russian researcher based in Moscow who we could never invite over here without the resources we receive from the programme. From a strictly human standpoint, the programme also allows many French and Argentinian students to work on a joint-supervised thesis abroad. There are many very good students in Argentina who would like to do a thesis at Inria. On the other hand, Inria has a significant network of contacts that allows South American researchers to meet scientists from all over the world.

Keywords: Americas Pablo Lotito Post-doctoral researcher ICST S. America International relations ICST