Mexican Academy of Sciences

The Mexican Academy of Sciences

The Mexican Academy of Sciences was founded on 12 August 1959, originally called the Mexican Academy of Scientific Research. The motivation behind the founding came from Alberto Sandoval Landázuri (1918-2002) and Guillermo Haro Barraza (1913-1988) so we will give brief details of these two men.

Alberto Sandoval Landázuri was born in Mexico city where, after early education at home, he attended both primary and secondary schools. He studied chemistry at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and in April 1941 became a research assistant at the new Institute of Chemistry where he wrote a Ph.D. thesis. He spent a year at the California Institute of Technology where he studied during 1945-46. Because of his work in founding the Mexican Academy of Scientific Research, he was elected as its first President and served in this capacity during 1959-60. For eighteen years he was director of the Institute of Chemistry and taught for 36 years at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Guillermo Haro Barraza was born in Mexico city where he studied philosophy and law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. After talking with the Mexican astronomer Luis Enrique Erro (1897-1955) in 1937 he became fascinated with astronomy and, despite having no formal qualifications in astronomy, later he was appointed by Erro as an assistant astronomer at the Observatorio Astrofísico de Tonantzintla. To gain experience in astronomy, Erro arranged for Haro to go to the United States for training, and there he worked at Harvard College Observatory with Harlow Shapley, then at Case Observatory, Yerkes Observatory and McDonald Observatory. He returned to Mexico and made many major contributions to observational astronomy at the Observatorio Astrofísico de Tonantzintla. In 1947 he moved to the Observatorio de Tacubaya of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He was the director of this observatory for 34 years from 1950. He was also the director of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Mexico for 20 years from 1948. He was one of the founders of the Mexican Academy of Scientific Research and served as its President during 1960-62. He became the first Mexican elected to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1959.

The Mexican Academy of Scientific Research was renamed the Mexican Academy of Sciences in 1996 [1]:-

This was not just a nominal shift; a series of meaningful changes accompanied it. The Academy went from generating a solid identity amongst Mexican scientists to building on and developing a successful and consequential set of academic programmes for the scientific community and society at large. Thus, from an organisation that sought to connect truly active researchers, the Academy became one of the country's most important mediums for spreading, supporting and promoting the diverse expressions of science through its programmes and awards.
The aims of the Mexican Academy of Sciences are [1]:-

  1. To encourage dialogue amongst the national and international scientific community.

  2. To situate the Mexican State and civil society within the fields of science and technology.

  3. To produce and orient knowledge towards solving issues that concern Mexico.

  4. To encourage scientific investigation in various sectors of the population.

  5. To seek national and international recognition for Mexican scientists.

  6. To contribute to the construction of a modern and just society.
Today the Mexican Academy of Sciences has a membership of over 2000 and is divided into three areas: 1. Exact Sciences (Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and Physics); 2. Natural Sciences (Agro-sciences, Biology and Medicine); and 3. Social Sciences and Humanities. The Mathematics Section has over 100 members.

The administrative structure of the Academy is described in [2]:-

According to the Mexican Academy of Sciences statutes, the Board of Directors is responsible for supervising and managing all the Academy affairs, and implementing the decisions made at the Ordinary and Extraordinary General Assemblies. It consists of a President, a Vice-President, two Secretaries, (one appointed by the incoming president and another by vote) and a Treasurer who will serve in the Board for two years. The Vice-President will occupy the post of President during the immediately next period. The Board of Directors meets once a month on a regular basis. In case it is needed, they increase the frequency of the meetings. A General Assembly per year is mandatory; however the Board of Directors can call for extraordinary assemblies as needed. All Mexican Academy of Sciences former Presidents form the Advisory Council of Presidents to advice the present Board of Directors. The Academy has Standing Commissions and Special Committees. The Membership Commission, led by the Vice-president of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, is composed of ten researchers from the areas of exact, natural and social sciences, each of whom occupies this post for four years. Every two years, half of the members, who have held the post for four years, are replaced by new members, elected by secret ballot. Every year, this Commission analyses all candidates seeking election as regular or corresponding members. The Awards Commission, also led by the Vice-president of the Mexican Academy of Sciences is divided into five areas: Exact Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Engineering and Technology. It analyses and determines the recipients of the various awards granted annually by the Mexican Academy of Sciences. Every year, half the Commission's members, who have held the post for two years, are replaced by new members.
A number of the Academy's activities are related to mathematics and we give some details of these:

The Funny Mathematics Competition.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [3]:-

The Funny Mathematics Competition was founded in 1998 for students under the age of 12. The competition involves two categories: children under 10 and children under 12. Each category involves three stages. The first stage allows for the voluntary participation of all students who meet the age requirement. No more than 10% of the participants are invited to participate in the second stage. During the second stage the best contestants from each category are selected to participate in the third stage, the May Olympiad. Each contestant who reaches the third stage will receive a participation certificate. The six best contestants from among the ten first place winners from each category at the Spring Mathematics Competition and the ten first place winners from the second category of Funny Mathematics Competition will be chosen to participate in the Río de la Plata Mathematics Olympiad.
The Spring Mathematics Competition.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [6]:-

The Spring Mathematics Competition was founded in 1996 and is aimed at two categories of Junior High School students: under thirteen and under fifteen. Participation in the competition is individual at both the local and international level. The objective is to encourage interest in mathematics amongst young participants. In addition, these competitions have served teachers at all levels by creating a forum for reflection and dialogue on mathematics teaching. The contest is carried out in three stages. The first two stages take place in school under the supervision of teachers who have volunteered to participate in the competition. During the second stage, the best students each level are selected to participate in the third stage. The top ten students from each level of the third stage become Mexican delegation representatives at the May Olympiad and the Rio de la Plata Mathematics Olympiad
Participation in International Mathematics Competitions.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [6]:-

Because the competition has proved to be well-organised and reliable, the Mexican Academy of Sciences has received two permanent invitations to participate in international contests: (i) The May Olympiad, organized by the Latin American Federation of Math Competitions, is held by correspondence simultaneously in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. Mexican contestants have won awards at these competitions, for example in the period between 1996 and 2013 Mexico won 25 gold medals, 64 silver medals, 160 bronze medals and 87 honourable mentions. (ii) The Rio de la Plata Mathematics Olympiad, organised by the same institution, is held each year in the second week of December at a location in Rio de la Plata. This competition is for Latin American countries. Between 1996 and 2013 Mexico won 12 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 28 bronze medals.
Science at your School.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [4]:-

The Science at your School programme began in 2002. Its aim is to improve the standards of mathematics and science teaching by using alternatives to the traditional methods that will spark the interest of children and young people, through greater interaction with teachers and the undertaking of experimental practices that feed curiosity and encourage active learning. Elementary and junior high school teachers are given training through diploma courses, specially designed teaching materials, conferences and webpages that provide useful elements for their teaching activities. From 2002 to date, the programme has trained 7,086 teachers from 2,820 public schools and more than 560 undergraduate students have made their social service under this programme.
Summer Internships for Young Researchers.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [7]:-

This programme was founded in 1995 with the help of the USA-Mexico Foundation for Science. The programme provides grants for young researchers in the areas of Astronomy, Biology, Computing, Physics, Engineering, Education, Mathematics, Medicine and Chemistry so that they may undertake a summer research project in laboratories in the USA.
Scientific Research Summer.

The following is a slightly modified quote taken from [5]:-

The Scientific Research Summer, which started in 1991, aims at building college students' interest in scientific activity within the fields of physics, mathematics, biomedicine, chemistry, social studies, the humanities, engineering and technology. The program promotes and facilitates student participation in seven-week summer research internships at the most prestigious research institutes and centres in the country. Students work under the supervision of active researchers who introduce them to the exciting world of science by allowing them to participate in an on-going research project. Since the Scientific Research Summer began in 1991 the Academy has ensured that it would be open and widely shared, permitting students from all areas of knowledge and every state in Mexico to participate.

List of References (7 books/articles)


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