CONICET and INTA fellows at the main international platforms for climate change

Romina Fernández and Pedro Fernández were recognized for their work by international organizations.

Romina Fernández conducts an experiment on fallen leaf litter decomposition of native and invasive species of trees in the Yungas, Tucumán. Photo: courtesy researchers.

PhD Romina Fernández is a biologist of the University of Tucumán (UNT) and a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Regional Ecology (IER, CONICET-UNT). She was chosen as one of the young worldwide scientists that will be part of the global evaluation on exotic invasive species and their control, a study carried out by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This global study will last four years and it will be accomplished by a group of experts composed of three co-presidents, fifty-two authors (the twelve fellows among them), and twelve revision editors.

The report is divided into many chapters so, during the evaluation process, each fellow will be guided by a chapter leader expert. Romina Fernández will be in charge of writing the chapter on ecological, economic, and social impacts.

She was selected for this role due to her works on soil ecology in relation to invasive species of the Yungas. Also, for being a leading author of global reviews on the ecological causes and consequences of the invasion of exotic trees, a subject in which IER has historically been a regional leader.

“I’m very glad and grateful for having been chosen by IPBES for this global evaluation. From the beginning of my career, I have been interested in studying the ecological impacts that invasive plants have. So, this unique opportunity means an incredible experience for learning and growing, both at a personal and team group level. Through my participation, the IER will gain more visibility and, possibly, enlarge its international network of collaborators,” said the biologist.

The program involves works of surveys, capacitation on IPBES’ evaluation methodology, and coordination meetings. The first meeting will take place in Tsukuba, Japan, during the 19 – 23rd of August. “There, we will learn how IPBES functions and work on the preliminary evaluation draft,” explained Fernández and added: “I’m very enthusiastic to begin with this project; I hope to give a good contribution and to learn a lot from the experts”.

Pedro Fernández is an agricultural engineer of the UNT, an INTA’s doctoral fellow in the Instituto de Investigación Animal del Chaco Semiárido (IIACS, CIAP-INTA), and also an associated member of IER.  He received an award of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due to his research “Connecting perceptions with environmental variables in forest grazing systems of dry Chaco.” It is the third time that a young Latin American researcher receives this award, and the first Argentine.

This great distinction is awarded to doctoral students working on ecology and climate change in emerging countries. “Regional climate change, vulnerability, impacts and adaptation” is Fernández’s award category. The award consists of a grant to study at the McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and will be presented, the 19th of September, by Prince Albert II of Monaco.

“Personally, it is very rewarding to receive such recognition from a prestigious institution as the IPCC. It is also a great achievement for my directors, Ignacio Gasparri (IER, CONICET-UNT) and Esteban Jobaggy (IMASL, CONICET-UNSL), and for many people who work by our side from IIACS, IER, and other foreign universities,” expressed Pedro Fernández.

Ricardo Grau, the Director of IER, pointed out that both distinctions show IER’s willingness to move forward to socio-ecological issues that connect the global environmental agenda with the current problems of the region. He also brought into focus the emergence of new generations of scientists interested in themes that relate social and biophysics systems.

By Jorgelina Martínez Grau