Sandra Díaz was awarded by the Linnean Society of London

The researcher at the Multidisciplinary Institute of Plant Biology in Córdoba has a long career in the field of plant ecology.

Sandra Díaz

Every year the Linnean Society of London awards scientists who work on issues related to the natural sciences. For the year 2023, the Society recognized the Researcher of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) Sandra Díaz, of the Multidisciplinary Institute of Plant Biology (IMBIV, CONICET-UNC) in the Linnean Medal category for her worldwide career, her legacy to the natural sciences and for her work  on the functional biodiversity of plants and how they react to environmental changes and affect other organisms.

According to The Linnean Society, the winners contribute to the real understanding of nature. “This year we had many nominees, which gives an encouraging idea of ​​the incredible work that is being done in the field and in the laboratory. Our 2023 winners represent innovative thinking, inspiring breakthroughs and just a vibrant passion for understanding nature and protecting it,” said Linnean Society President Anjali Goswami.

For her part, Sandra Díaz, said she was flattered and very happy to belong to and be recognized by an institution “that celebrates natural history, not only ‘pure and hard’ natural sciences, but also their interaction with exploration , art and narrative”. And she added: “This rich interdisciplinary cross-fertilization is very old, for example, Humboldt was one of its great proponents, but for quite some time, especially during the second half of the 20th century, it was forgotten or even viewed with disdain, as a past not ‘quantitative and scientific enough’ of ecology, taxonomy, evolutionary biology. But currently there is a resurgence of this interest, people are aware that this interweaving of disciplines and knowledge around nature is essential to have a chance of overcoming the eco-social crisis that we are experiencing”.

Díaz studies the impact of environmental change on the biodiversity of ecosystems. She has also investigated the functional biodiversity of plants, identifying which functional syndromes, that is, “styles” or “essential ways of being a plant” exist and how they integrate and react to environmental changes and also how they affect other organisms. Another line of research that she carries out is interdisciplinary interaction; considering that ecology, other natural sciences, social sciences and humanities can jointly seek solutions to complex problems. In this regard, Sandra Díaz expressed: “We realized that rarely a specific problem to be solved in real life is strictly biological considering that very frequently it has social, economic and cultural edges.

It is much more frequent that it has social, economic, cultural edges. And even though it is interdisciplinary in the academy, it is not enough and it is necessary to summon other social actors, to analyze the problems and possible solutions. Here I have had the privilege of participating in interdisciplinary and intersectoral initiatives at many levels, from very regional problems in the Province of Córdoba, with issues of the Forest Law and roadside management, to the global level, when I co-led the recent Global Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)”.

Diaz has received various distinctions and prizes, including the Cozzarelli Prize, the Senckenberg Prize for Nature Research, the Gunnerus Prize in Sustainability Sciences, the Princess of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Research, and the Frontiers of Knowledge in Ecology and Conservation of the BBVA Foundation. In addition, in 2019 she was recognized by the journal Nature as one of the most influential scientists worldwide and is among the 1% most cited and referred scientists on the planet within her specialty.