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Letter from the Editor | 251

A new beginning in 2017

This month’s cover story was deemed especially suitable for January in South America: after all, an ice-cold beer is the perfect pairing for summer’s heat.  But seasons can be changeable.  Summer no longer seems like summer (this letter from the editor was written in the midst of an unseasonable cold front in December, which saw temperatures plummet in our state capital) and beer no longer needs to be ice-cold. The preference for better-quality beers–that dispense with the need for extreme cooling–has spread in Brazil, which now has more than 400 craft microbreweries, beneficiaries of significant domestic research and development efforts.

In describing the Brazilian science and technology behind the main ingredients and methods for producing the ancient beverage, reporter Yuri Vasconcelos shows that barley and hops did not easily adapt to the local climate, requiring the need for much research–and in the case of hops, a little luck–so they could be grown. Today, nearly half the barley used in the industry is Brazilian, the outcome of 40 years of research by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). Other studies are addressing the stages in the production process, such as aging the beverage in barrels, the search for new yeasts–for converting sugars into alcohol–and investigations into the structure of the foam, which plays a key role in maintaining the beverage’s stability.

One of this month’s interviews is with anthropologist Lux Vidal, a pioneer in ethnology in Brazil, who has trained generations of anthropologists.  During conversations with editor Maria Guimarães, Vidal talked about the process of collective creation of a Brazilian ethnology, emancipated from the U.S. and British schools, one that contemplates the active involvement of researchers in indigenous issues such as demarcation of lands and compensation for accidental damages.  From 1970 to 1990, Vidal studied the Xikrin, of southern Pará State, who attempted to reestablish themselves on their lands, surrounded by mining activities. As a result of her training in which the arts loomed large, the anthropologist cast her glance towards the ethno-aesthetics of the indigenous peoples, studying and recording the different forms of body painting, a central focus of the Xikrin.

This special vacation issue offers other excellent reports as well: a behind-the-scenes look at an archeological excavation; the history of the recovery in captivity of the reputedly extinct Alagoas Curassow, with the help of genetics; and a story about a year of journalistic coverage of the Zika virus. The Careers section retraces the paths of some of the nearly 200 researchers involved in what has been a 20-year effort to sequence the genome of the Xylella fastidiosa.

The Pesquisa FAPESP magazine begins 2017 by making some changes to its opening pages. Two sections–Strategies and Technoscience–have now been merged into a single section called Notes, which will include news from the field of the humanities.  The new section will offer selected news articles, short interviews, data and images.  Two editions ago, Good Practices took up three pages. The idea is that this popular and well-read section will vary in size. The On-line section has been split-up: video highlights and podcasts are now presented in the table of contents, which has become the menu of the month’s offerings by Pesquisa FAPESP, in both the print and the online form; and the feature, “Most viewed this month on Facebook” has been moved to the Letters section. Keep in mind that the printed magazine’s entire content is available free of charge at, in Portuguese, English and Spanish, along with videos produced biweekly, weekly radio programs and reports and news items found only on our website.