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Cablegate: Stas Atkinson Visit Highlights Chilean S&T

VZCZCXYZ0018
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #2551/01 3462023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 122023Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0533
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 3416
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 0004
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1199
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 4928
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4838
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 0349
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO PRIORITY 0591
RUEABND/DEA LOS ANGELES DIVISION PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 002551

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR STAS ATKINSON
FOR WHA/BSC - MOSS
FOR OES/STC
DEPT PASS TO NSF - HAROLD STOLBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC OSCI SCUL TSPL OVIP CI
SUBJECT: STAS ATKINSON VISIT HIGHLIGHTS CHILEAN S&T
STRENGTHS

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 2537
B. BUENOS AIRES 2580

1. Summary. Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary
of State (STAS) Dr. George Atkinson led a delegation of
scientists and engineers to Chile November 4-7, to survey
Chilean science and technology (S&T) and engineering
institutions and learn about Chile's future S&T priorities.
The visit also highlighted Chilean educational capabilities
and afforded an opportunity to vet a STAS proposal for a new
modality of collaboration with U.S. universities -- &Global
Science Partnerships for the 21st Century" (GSP-21). Before
arriving in Santiago, the STAS delegation also visited the
Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon observatories in northern
Chile. In Santiago, Atkinson participated in a seminar on
international S&T collaboration and innovation at the
American Academy of Science and Technology. The visit
confirmed that Chile has solid capabilities in many S&T and
engineering fields and generated Chilean enthusiasm for the
GSP-21 concept. End Summary.

2. STAS Atkinson's delegation included Deputy S&T Adviser
Andrew Reynolds, WHA/EPSC Jefferson Science Fellow Dr. Kim
Boyer, DOS Geographer Dr. Lee Schwartz, former Jefferson
Science Fellow Dr. Ed Samulski, AAAS Fellow Dr. Christina
McCain (STAS Office), cancer researcher Nathan Singh
(University of Pennsylvania), and Dr. Cung Vu from the DOD's
Defense Warning Office.

3. The STAS visit's prime objective was to determine Chile's
national S&T and engineering priorities. The STAS visit
should help Chilean proponents of scientific progress, as
well as overcome complacency. President Bachelet believes
that S&T education and infrastructure, English language
training, and a culture of innovation must be fostered for
Chile to compete in the 21st century.

Priorities and Capabilities
---------------------------

4. Meetings with Chilean counterparts identified natural
resource development and exploitation as current priorities.
These included energy, value-added services and commodities
from the mining industry, developing Chile as a world &food
power,8 sustainable exploitation of forest resources, and
biotechnology. Chile has some world-class scientific and
technical research going on in these fields. The delegation
visited public and private research and education
institutions, which provide quality instruction and perform
solid research in many S&T, engineering and math disciplines.
With limited resources and a new emphasis on innovation,
Chile has recently begun to pay more attention to fostering
its science and engineering communities. It seeks a
multi-disciplinary framework to focus on advancing the
national and industrial needs in the energy, mining,
agriculture, forestry, and health sectors. Some Chilean
innovators are also nurturing cutting edge research in areas
such as bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics with an eye
towards increasing national competitiveness. STAS Atkinson
and his team also noted how Chile's framework for fostering
further advances could represent a model for regional
leadership for research and development in the advanced
sciences.

5. The STAS delegation visited two major faculties at the
University of Chile. At the Department of Electrical
Engineering, they observed demonstrations in robotics, visual
identification systems, and renewable energy. In the Center
for Mathematical Modeling (CMM), they heard a presentation on
the modeling of biological agents for use in more efficient,
environmentally benign copper extraction from marginal ores.
The CMM,s focus is on short and medium-term projects, which
helps maintain a funding stream. The delegation also made
stops at the Center for Bioinformatics and Genome Biology at
Fundacion Ciencia Para La Vida, a public-private technology
park, and Pontifica Universidad Catolica's (PUC) Center for
Genomics and Bioinformatics and the Center for Advanced

Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity.

6. Researchers at the Fundacion Cienca presented their work
in bioinformatics for improved agricultural production,
including wine grapes, frost- and drought-tolerant
genetically engineered plants, and the sequencing of several
plant pathogens supporting the development of controls. The
Fundacion,s focus is almost entirely on problems of
immediate concern to Chile,s agriculture and aquaculture
sectors, as well as bio-leaching for copper extraction. At
PUC, the delegation saw presentations on several topics in
proteomics, including the modeling of stochastic surface
charge distribution, protein folding, and docking. The
concentration at PUC was on problems of slightly longer term,
as is reasonable for a university based research activity in
a developing country. All three institutions (University of
Chile, Fundacion, PUC) demonstrated a sophisticated research
capability.

7. Before arriving in Santiago, the STAS delegation visited
the Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon observatories in northern
Chile. The team was enormously impressed with these world
class facilities and their directors, as well as the
scientists working there from around the world. STAS and Dr.
Samulski were pleased to hear about research being conducted
in partnership with the Universities of Arizona and North
Carolina, where they know the departments of astronomy well.
The team noted, however, that Chileans are serving
principally as facility technicians with few Chilean
astronomers doing research on-site.

Global Science Partnerships
---------------------------

8. STAS Atkinson briefed the Ambassador about the GSP-21
concept to gauge likely Chilean interest. The Ambassador was
enthusiastic about the idea and has recommended the
Department consider Chile as a pilot country should GSP-21
move forward. In all meetings with Chilean counterparts )-
at universities, research institutions, and ministries --
there was a great deal of interest in the GSP-21 concept.
Chilean scientists said they especially wanted support in
transforming their basic research into creative products and
services. Senior EconOff has also been approached
subsequently by members of the GOC's Council on Competition
and Innovation seeking further information on the possibility
of scientific exchanges under GSP-21.

The Policy Side
---------------

9. The STAS delegation also met with MFA's Ambassador Gabriel
Rodriguez, Director of Energy, Science and Technology &
Innovation; Dr. Jorge Allende, Vice Rector for Research &
Development at the University of Chile; Carlos Alvarez,
Executive Vice President of the Chilean Economic Development
Agency (CORFO); David Noe Scheinwald, Advisor at the Ministry
of Finance; and, Vivian Heyl, President of CONICYT, the
Chilean analog to our National Science Foundation. The GOC's
policymakers were particularly interested in formal
collaboration and exchanges to facilitate technology
transfers. Dr. Allende noted the importance to Chile of a
University of California-University of Chile alliance from
the 1960's that had led in no small measure to the
development of Chile's vibrant agricultural sector.

Science Public Diplomacy
------------------------

10. On November 6, Atkinson joined the Ambassador in a
presentation on "Science and Technology in the Modern World"
at an American Corner in Santiago appropriately named the
American Academy of Science and Technology. Post established
the Academy in September 2005 at the University of Talca's
Santiago campus, to provide a forum for highlighting
U.S.-Chilean scientific cooperation. The program also
featured CONICYT President Heyl and Dr. Servet Martinez,

President of the Chilean Academy of Sciences. Atkinson
stressed the need for scientists worldwide to collaborate to
face the pressing problems of the 21st century.

11. Positive press coverage of Atkinson's presentation
appeared in Santiago's major dailies and an interview with El
Mercurio appeared in a feature article in the Sunday,
November 19 edition. STAS Atkinson's visit helped highlight
the extensive U.S.-Chile scientific and technological
cooperation, an area of the bilateral relationship that often
escapes even GOC policymakers.

Embassy Comment
---------------

12. Post was very pleased with the good will generated by the
STAS visit, and would strongly support Chile as a partner in
the GSP-21 program. The U.S. and Chile already enjoy a solid
Fulbright exchange program and GSP-21 could be a logical
complement to it. The GOC is becoming increasingly aware of
the role S&T and innovation must play for Chile to compete
economically and foster non-traditional sectors. The GOC is
attempting to identify clusters of innovative sectors and
technologies to promote. Part of that plan is to send up to
1,000 graduate students abroad annually for graduate degrees.
Here too, a GSP-21 initiative could be a very timely
vehicle. Post will continue to report on commission's work
and other new GOC attempts to develop clear policies on S&T,
education and research and hopefully intellectual property
rights as national priorities.

13. STAS Atkinson cleared this cable.
KELLY

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