CECs, Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies) is a private, non-profit corporation, devoted to the development, promotion and diffusion of scientific research. CECs was founded in 1984 as the Center for Scientific Studies of Santiago and has since been directed by physicist Claudio Bunster.

“If you plan to make a voyage of discovery, choose a ship of small draught”
Captain James Cook rejecting the large ships offered by the Admiralty for the search of a new continent.
CONICYT: Basal Financing program

Excerpts from the report of international referee on the overall activity at CECs under the Basal Funding program of CONICYT, for the period January 2010 – January 2011. (Published here with the kind permission of CONICYT)

“During the reporting period, CECs maintained its status as a center of excellence in Glaciology, Biology and Physics. lSI citations have grown to 1768, a 10% increase over the previous year. Perhaps more important than the quantity of research publications, is the impact that research has on the scientific community. One measure of this impact is the H-index score, which for CECs is 63, placing it highest among similar size institutions in South America. Most remarkable is that >80% of the published research is done in collaboration with national and international scientists: A measure of scientific impact also includes the number of scientists who make the journey to Valdivia to work with CECs scientists, 314 for the year 2010.”

“Scientific collaboration with the local university (Austral) and other Chilean universities remains high and many of the published articles represent joint efforts. Students are shared between CECs and Austral, Universidad Concepcion, and Catholic University in Valparaiso and these relationships contribute to the collaborative efforts.”…”Notably the number of trainees (graduate students and post doctoral fellows) in the CECs program has grown from 43 in 2009 to 53 in 2010. Ten students received PhD degrees in 2010.”

“Intramural collaboration continues to grow and there is strong evidence of cooperation between the disciplines. Glaciologists and biologists are working towards a better understanding of extremophile biology for applications to the mining industry.”…”Physicists and biologists are working together to apply a mathematical structure, the Chern-Simons form, to solve problems faced by biologists as they seek to study and model biomembranes. Additional collaboration between biologists and physicists have provided biologists with analytical tools to better maneuver the vast datasets arising from gene sequencing, gene expression and protein cataloging.”

“CECs has demonstrated their commitment and ability to obtain non-governmental funding.”

“The outreach of this small group of scientists to the business community in Chile at large has been impressive over the reporting period. CECs was in fact recognized by business leaders within Chile who bestowed upon CECs the 2010 ICARE Award, given for outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship and economic development in Chile. These business leaders recognized CECs for being the first independent research organization in the history of Chile, and for becoming a neural node for science in Chile and Latin America.”

“Perhaps CECs scientists will be among those in Chile who are able to guide Chilean business leaders towards a deeper appreciation of the need for research and investment in Chile's future. This is not what scientists are trained to do and certainly not what we generally gravitate towards; however, possibly more than any single scientific advancement, such a sea change could alter the trajectory of Chile's growth and prominence as it takes a role on the international stage. Only a certain kind of leader and organization can manage and navigate such a political and economic challenge. CECs has that leader and that organization, should they determine that the goal is one worthy of pursuit.”

“The commitment of CECs towards outreach should be a model for the other BASAL centers. Outreach exists on many levels, public service efforts to share expertise with policy makers regarding energy and water resources, teaching and visits to schools, courses and lectures for the public, and the buildout and furnishing of a welcoming and beautifully functional exhibit and meeting hall ‘La Carpa de la Ciencia’ that reaches out to the community and is open to it from street level. This thoughtfully designed multifunctional space has been utilized to host international conferences as well as community programs that engage the public with hands on teaching tools.”

“The outreach program is remarkable. The PR Chief and all at CECs should be commended. They have produced an overall program that is professional, comprehensive, and frankly stunning in its commitment and dedication. Much multidisciplinary cooperation, between architects, journalists, artists, and scientists is required for these programs to succeed in the public arena, a success that could not be recognized without the unwavering support and vision of CECs leadership group.”