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Heidelberg Alumni International
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Heidelberg Alumni International


'International exchange is very important for scientists'

Dr. Ignacio Espinoza
Dr Ignacio Espinoza

Dr Ignacio Espinoza, Assistant Professor of Physics at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile/Chile

PhD programme at Heidelberg University from 2009 to 2013; HAIreconnect stay in July 2017


When, how long and in what capacity did you stay at Heidelberg University?

I was a PhD student at the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy between 2009 and 2013 and did my doctoral research in the Division of Medical Physics in Radiation Oncology of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

Why did you decide to come to Heidelberg University?

In 2006, the DKFZ and Heidelberg University organised a Summer School of Medical Physics at the Heidelberg Center for Latin America in Santiago, Chile. I was a physics student at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and medical physics was still a largely unknown subject in my country. I took part in the Summer School and met several Heidelberg professors, among them the famous Prof. Dr Wolfgang Schlegel, and I found that Heidelberg played an important role in the worldwide advancement of medical physics. Also, I found Germany as a country very attractive because of its rich culture and beautiful language.


What did you like best about your stay, and where do you see room for improvement?

The high scientific quality of Heidelberg University and the DKFZ is important, but beyond that, just living in Heidelberg was an invaluable experience. I especially like the blend of history, nature (the Neckar river and hiking in the forest), culture (music and art), focus on the future and the respectful way people treat each other. Quality and simplicity are concepts that I associate with Heidelberg.


How did your career continue after your time in Heidelberg?

After earning my PhD, I became Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Physics of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. As a member of the Medical Physics Group, I conduct research on radiobiology models and medical imaging in radiotherapy. I also teach master students of medical physics from all over Latin America who will go on to work in research or in hospitals.


How do you rate the German scientific community compared to your home country or other countries in which you have conducted research?

Although there are good scientists and good scientific standards in both countries—Chile and Germany—it’s clear that research in Germany is much better funded. Not just because Germany is a richer country than Chile, but because German society, and German businesses in particular, attach great importance to research. Latin American businesses and governments still don’t quite understand how critical that is for a country’s development. 


How important do you think international exchange is for scientists?

Excellent science today is only possible on a global level. Good research is born of people who work well together and appreciate each other. That frequently happens not in a single institution or a single country, but between researchers from different places around the world. That is why international exchange is so  important for scientists.


How do you rate the opportunities offered by the Research Alumni Network? Do you use these opportunities?

The network and its various programmes help me keep in touch with Heidelberg. HAIreconnect was particularly important for me, and I hope that I will be able to help others in my role as a Research Alumni Ambassador. 


Why did you apply to HAIreconnect and what did you do during your stay in Heidelberg?

HAIreconnect was a great opportunity to meet Heidelberg colleagues that cooperate with my research group. During my stay in Heidelberg, we worked together on papers and organised future cooperation and student exchange projects.


You are a Research Alumni Ambassador for Heidelberg—what are your future plans in this context?

As a Research Alumni Ambassador, I am happy to assist our university in its international networking activities. Most of all, I want to help promote research cooperation and student exchanges between Chile and Heidelberg.

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Latest Revision: 2018-02-23
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