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FAPESP'S new President

A commitment with innovation

Carlos Vogt, the new President, is going to keep FAPESP's "lean" administrative policy and will preserve resources destined towards scholarships

EDUARDO CESARCarlos Vogt, FAPESP’S new President, took office on the 26th of June in a ceremony at the Foundation’s headquarters. He assumed the position with the firm commitment of maintaining what he qualified as “a lean administrative policy” in such a manner as not to surpass the level of 5% of the budgetary income of R$ 300 million in the Foundation’s administrative costs. “Currently, this percentage does not surpass 3.5% of the budget”, underlined Vogt. With reference to investments, he guaranteed that the Foundation is going to preserve its current level of 35% of the budget being allocated to scholarships and will follow on in the challenge of “always innovating”.

In a similar manner, he highlighted, as an example of this type, the investments that FAPESP would be making in the program Integrated Systems of Hydrometeorological Monitoring and Forecasting for the State of São Paulo (Sihesp), which deals with the observation and monitoring of the climate and water resources. Among other benefits, he pointed towards the possibility of alerting the population with antecedence on the intensity and location of heavy rains.

The Sihesp forecasts the installation of automatic surface stations, Doppler effect radars, which can measure the wind and the rain, measuring units for wind and temperature, systems for monitoring the sea and the coastline, networks for the detection of lightning discharges, among others. The project, budgeted at US$ 15 million, between infrastructure and equipment, is going to need a partnership between the state and Federal governments.

Vogt advised that he had already initiated an understanding with the Union to finalize the transfer of the area of 55 hectares (23 Paulista alqueires) of the company Companhia de Entrepostos e Armazéns Gerais do Estado de São Paulo (Ceagesp) that FAPESP received as a present from the Federal government on the commemoration of the Foundation’s ’40 Years’. ” Already, we have met with the Ministry of Planning to deal with the issue. We have to map out the judicial and legal aspects of the transfer. The area of some 700,000 m2, is going to guarantee to FAPESP a very large funding, and will represent an increase in its capacity for investment”, commented President Vogt.

A tuned team
Linguist and poet, Vogt was the rector of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), between 1990 and 1994, where he also exercised the function of coordinator of the Applied Linguistics Center and head of the Linguistics Department. He was a founding member and executive director of the Uniemp Institute and Vice-President of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC). Vogt also accumulated the function of chief editor of the magazineCiência e Cultura (Science and Culture), published by the SBPC, and is the editorial director of the electronic magazine ComCiência (With Science). He substitutes the engineer and physicist Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, who left FAPESP’s presidency to assume the rectory of Unicamp on the 19th of April.

“Vogt is the first scientist from the study area of Human Sciences to reach this position of such an expressive nature and which previously has had aristocratic presidents coming from the field of Exact Sciences to exercise the post”, underlined José Jobson de Andrade Arruda, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, when greeting Vogt during his address offered at the initiation ceremony. He recalled that Vogt, indicated by the Board of Trustees in September of 2001, had within a short space of time gained “the decisive support of all of the Board members, obtaining the maximum vote for the position of President”. This result, he finalized, brought to the Board the certainty that “the action program started by the Foundation during the last eight years would not suffer any interruption”.

Brito was thanked by FAPESP’s scientific director, José Fernando Perez, who attributed the success of the Foundation over the last eight years – with the development of programs such as Biota Genome, Public Policies, Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE) and Technological Innovation Partnership (PITE), among others -, to the “strong” relationship of the Scientific Board with the Board of Trustees led by Brito. “The Board of Trustees harassed the Scientific Board to be more and more innovative. We have to continue to be daring”, stated Perez. Brito preferred to believe that the excellent research results were due to “the luck of having a fine tuned team” at the moment in which knowledge had gained recognition rarely achieved in the Foundation’s past.

At the ceremony close to three hundred people – between researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, State government representatives and parliamentarians – filled FAPESP’s auditorium. The Secretary of Science, Technology, Economic Development and Tourism, Ruy Altenfelder Silva, stated that with Vogt in FAPESP’s presidency “things will continue in good hands”. In the evaluation of the President of the State Legislative Assembly, Walter Feldman (PSDB), the command of the Foundation is passing from the world of Physical Science to that of Human Science “without any the need for a shift”.

Science and poetry
In his inaugural speech, Vogt cited the biologist Walter Gilbert – who classified the United States Genome Project as the Holy Grail of Human Genomics and the final reply to the commandment “know thyself” – and that of ex-President Bill Clinton – who, at the end of the sequencing of the human genetic code stated: “We are learning about the language with which God created life” -, to prove that there is not incompatibility in the fact that a poet and linguist has an interest for questions of science, technology and scientific development.

“It’s not necessary to carry out many inferences in order to read in the declaration of the scientist and in the enthusiasm of the President the desire for the affirmation of man through knowledge”, he said. Also, he reiterated his belief that in the professional formation “of our young students, as well as in the technical competence of their specialization, it is also indispensable to instruct them in integral and humanistic involvements of which culture is a learning and teaching experience”.