The current coordinator of the program pointed out the main challenges that the committee is currently facing, among them, he highlighted increasing the production of research with an application component, promoting co-development with external companies and integrating more non-academic professional staff.
Millaray Mariqueo, Science in Chile.- Marcelo Baeza studied a Doctorate in Biology with a mention in Microbiology at the University of Chile, once finished, he entered a position within the same faculty to work with yeast viruses and later with yeasts in general that live in cold environments, mainly in the Antarctica.
The teacher began to be part of the academic faculty from the beginning of the program, then joined the academic committee from where he was elected general coordinator at the end of 2020.
Baeza is currently developing research on yeasts that live in other environments, such as the Chilean highlands, however, since 2009 his specialty lies in cold environments, “We study this because it is ecologically interesting, it is a little explored environment and many of the adaptation mechanisms that yeasts have generated are applicable in some type of industry, especially in industries where enzymes are used. It is a good niche since they are looking for enzymes that work better at low temperatures.”
Among his objectives as coordinator, Baeza mentions that he hopes to increase the importance of the biotechnological component in the theses generated, “this doctorate should go in the direction of doing science, but science that has an application, either in the short or medium term. So within the challenges of the committee, we are trying that in the theses that are made, the applied component is greater and greater”.
Another challenge is open research to the extra-academic world, that is, integrate expert professionals in some area, belonging to public or private entities, into the program in such a way that the program is not purely from the University of Chile. “I would like this to be raised before I leave, for productive work to be included in the program, whether public or private, and this implies that students can do their Research Unit or even Thesis outside the university, in the private sector. productive”.
In relation to the current challenges of Molecular Biotechnology, Baeza mentions that they are varied, in his case, it is to generate some good or service based on yeast. However, there are numerous theses in development with interesting projects in the area.
There are cases related to generating solutions for bioremediation or to detect contaminants, other investigations for mining cases, such as bioleaching to use those low-grade minerals that are lost today. There are also theses on the side of generating new compounds, either for food additives or that are important for human health. And also in the area of plant biotechnology, through the generation of new varieties that have improvements over the previous one, especially in the production of plants that are resistant to drought.
The academic mentions that it is important to maintain an equitable rotation in the academic committee of the program to implement new visions, as a result, he clearly mentions his objectives to be carried out in the corresponding period.
Lastly, he points out that he is working to unblock the company-university relationship, in order to generate a greater contribution to applied projects, increase resources to develop and facilitate agreements, studies or co-development with private companies“this is essential and serves to see the real problems that technology-based companies have at the national level in which one can contribute as an academy, and for that you have to create trust.”
In relation to the admission of 2023, the application period started on September 1 and ends on October 31, if accepted, the internal scholarships of the faculty can be requested.