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Physics in Latin America

The southern skies and tall mountains of Latin America have cultivated a long history of astronomy on the continent. Today, the continent hosts over 80 observatories that are collaborative research centres for the region and the world. But what about other areas of physics? These have benefited from a culture of collaboration, but there are still challenges in fully developing the potential of research on the continent, such as insufficient researchers or resources. In this Viewpoint, seven physicists discuss the varying research landscapes of different areas of physics across the continent.

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Carolina Brito is an associate professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She holds a PhD in physics from UFRGS, with part undertaken at CEA (Commissariat a l’Énergie Atomique)-Saclay in France.  She conducts research on amorphous materials and wetting phenomena and is a CNPq Research Fellow level 1D. Carolina hosts a scientific podcast called ‘Fronteiras da Ciência’ and coordinates the ‘Meninas na Ciência’ programme, which encourages women to pursue STEM careers.

David Vanegas Forero is an assistant professor at the University of Medellín, Colombia, working on neutrino physics and its phenomenological consequences. He has been part of research projects developed during his master’s studies at the University of Campinas (Brazil), in the doctoral period at the IFIC and the University of Valencia (Spain) and that he continued during postdoctoral stays at Virginia Tech and at the University of Campinas, including visits to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Since 2018, he is also a member of the DUNE collaboration.

Karen Hallberg is an associate professor at the Balseiro Institute in Argentina, where she completed her PhD in physics. She is also a principal researcher of the Argentine Council for Science and Technology (CONICET) working at the Bariloche Atomic Center (CNEA). Her research topics include computational approaches to investigate the physical properties of quantum matter and nanoscopic systems. She was awarded the 2019 L'Oreal-UNESCO International Award for Women in Science (for Latin America).

Gonzalo Palma is a professor at the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the Universidad de Chile. He is also an associate member of ICTP-SAIFR. He obtained his PhD at DAMTP, University of Cambridge, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at DESY (Hamburg) and at the Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics (Leiden). In recent years, his research has focused on cosmic inflation, primordial non-Gaussianity, primordial black holes, primordial gravitational waves and CMB physics.

Joel Saavedra has been a Faculty member at the Instituto de Física, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso since 2004. Former Vice President of Research and Postgraduate of the PUCV and currently heads the Physics Institute. He is a principal researcher at the FONDECYT programme 1220065 of ANID. His works have been centring on black hole physics and cosmology since 2002, when he got his PhD from Universidad de Santiago de Chile.

Gonzalo Tancredi is an astronomer working at the Universidad de la República, Uruguay and also President of the National Association of Researchers, ‘Investiga uy’. He was the first Latin American to become President of a Division of the International Astronomical Union (Div. F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology, 2018–2021). He chairs the SOC of the next LARIM. His fields of expertise are the small bodies of the solar system, related to impact process and the consequences for life on Earth.

Wilfredo Tavera is a professor at the Physical Research Institute of the Faculty of Pure and Natural Sciences of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Physics ‘Gleb Wataghin’ of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil.

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Correspondence to Carolina Brito, David Vanegas Forero, Karen Hallberg, Gonzalo Palma, Joel Saavedra Alvear, Gonzalo Tancredi or Wilfredo Tavera.

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Brito, C., Vanegas Forero, D., Hallberg, K. et al. Physics in Latin America. Nat Rev Phys 5, 502–504 (2023).

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