Dr. Rodolfo Rodríguez career was honored in an official ceremony led by Rector Dr. Carlos Saavedra
A long academic career that includes teaching and research experience in prestigious centers such as the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Vigo (Spain), California Berkeley (United States), University of Santiago of Compostela (Spain), and Maryland (United States) among others, are some of the aspects that motivated the Academic Council of the Universidad de Concepción, UdeC, to grant the honorary distinction of Professor Emeritus to Dr. Rodolfo Rodríguez Alonso, researcher at the Center for Research in Mathematical Engineering, CI²MA, and academician at the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, FCFM, of this university.
“Achieving the institutional recognition of Emeritus Professor is the highest recognition that exists in the academic career at our University and, as I have said to Professor Rodolfo Rodríguez Alonso, I think that he brings together the best of the academic career: a trajectory of excellence, a humility in his relationship with all institutional structures, always cordial, pleasant, close and formative treatment with all his students and always giving the best of himself”, Rector of UdeC, Dr. Carlos Saavedra Rubilar highlighted. “We are very happy to be able to deliver this recognition, agreed in a unanimous decision of the Academic Council”, UdeC highest authority said.
The honoree, meanwhile, stated that “I am extremely excited, it is difficult for me to find words of gratitude to the university authorities, to my colleagues, co-workers, who have proposed my name to this recognition, as a reward for a job well done during all the years that I have been at the University”.
Professor Rodríguez also had mentions for his former students. “Now they are colleagues who have been surpassing the teacher, as it has to be. It is very pleasant. It is also sad that I had to choose who will attend the ceremony due to the room capacity restriction, but the rest who could not enter, I know they were watching this on YouTube and, as soon as I get home, I'm going to start answering the emails that I surely have from them with their congratulations”, Dr. Rodríguez explained.
“Rodolfo's scientific career is a series of great achievements, from being a fellow of the AMS (American Mathematical Society), one of the two that our country has, to his great scientific production, all this complemented with affection and admiration from his colleagues and students. He is, without any doubt, one of the most brilliant academicians in our Center, so this distinction is more than deserved. On a personal note, my own scientific career has been greatly benefited by having the help of Rodolfo, who has always been open to answering a question or giving an indication, taking advantage of his vast intuition and mathematical culture”, said Dr. Rodolfo Araya Durán, director of CI²MA and Rodríguez's colleague in the Department of Mathematical Engineering, DIM, at UdeC.
At the investiture ceremony, Dr. Roberto Riquelme Sepúlveda, Dean of the FCFM of UdeC, presented the trajectory of the honored researcher. “Dr. Rodríguez has formed so many generations and has given so much for the University that it was very easy to make this presentation. The most remarkable thing is the human aspect: today there are several of his former students, who are working in other universities in the country and now are here in this moment. That shows that he not only delivers knowledge, but also provides a great human quality for people, he is a 100% educator”.
His family, the Academy
A true school of current academics from various Chilean and foreign universities is the one that Dr. Rodríguez has developed, through his work as a CI²MA researcher and member of the Ph.D. Program in Applied Sciences with a minor in Mathematical Engineering at UdeC, that he has directed twice.
Bibiana López-Rodríguez is one of his former students and currently, she is an academician at the Universidad Nacional Colombia. She obtained the highest academic degree at UdeC in 2012. “I had the opportunity to work with Rodolfo as his doctoral student, a totally nice experience for his commitment and dedication. Rodolfo was always ready to guide and help me in that process. Later on, we continued doing research together, a journey in which I was able to learn more about his human quality, his dedication and perseverance”, Bibiana explains.
Pablo Venegas Tapia is another of the current academicians who was directed by Professor Rodríguez in their doctoral studies. He works at the U. del Bío-Bío. “Before the pandemic, Rodolfo traveled regularly to Santiago de Compostela (Spain), where we met on several occasions. During those trips we were able to share with different academicians and students from the Department of Applied Mathematics, generating, in addition to collaboration networks, good friends that remain to this day”, he details about the permanent international collaboration that the Professor Emeritus keeps.
Venegas adds, “Rodolfo's permanent contribution in the training of new doctors. In addition to guide students in the program at the Universidad of Concepción, he also has co-directed thesis with his former students. In particular, we are currently co-directing the thesis work of a student of the doctoral program at the Universidad del Bío-Bío”.
Regarding the contributions of Professor Rodríguez at undergraduate level, Venegas highlights that, “upon arriving at the Department of Mathematical Engineering of the UdeC, he proposed a new approach in the way of teaching the Numerical Calculus course and was in charge of preparing the material to be able to make such changes. Some of us, who were trained under this approach oriented to programming and the use of computational tools, have implemented this system in other universities and had an excellent reception”.
A similar opinion is expressed by the also UBB researcher, David Mora Herrera. “I met Rodolfo around 2002, when I enrolled the Finite Elements course in the Mathematical Engineering undergraduate program at UdeC. In 2005, I asked him to be director of my undergraduate thesis that I defended in March 2006. Then, he suggested me to enroll in the Ph.D. Program in which, after passing the basic courses, I asked him to be my thesis director. He agreed and also suggested that we might consider a co-director”, he explains.
“My thesis finished in January 2010 and was defended on March 31, 2010, one month after the 8.8 earthquake. I can mention that the most difficult thing about working with Rodolfo was calling him by his name. I think it took years until I was able to take that step, including several scolding for that”, Mora says.
“We have continued working on many projects, including co-supervision of Master's and Doctorate theses, participation in conferences, including LANUS-FEM2014; and others activities like the soccer matches of the Copa América 2015”, Mora says. “Rodolfo's generosity for sharing his knowledge, his work time with everyone and all of his students, is something that marked me and gives me tremendous respect and admiration”.
“Without a doubt, Rodolfo has contributed in a very important way to expanding applied mathematics in Latin America and he more than deserves the title of Professor Emeritus”.
Jessika Camaño Valenzuela, now an academician at the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, obtained her doctorate degree in 2013, under the guidance of Rodríguez and details that “Rodolfo was a very good advisor, very close, with a lot of patience and generosity, always ready to help all his students. Despite his tight schedule, he always made us some space during the week to give us a hand in case we needed it. Personally, I have a great affection, respect and appreciation for Rodolfo. I am and will be eternally grateful for his time, teaching and disposition towards me and all his students. In my opinion, he is a very good mathematician and a great person”.
On October 6, 1991, it was the first time that Professor Rodríguez's career converged with the one of the current director of the Fondap CRHIAM Center, Dr. Gladys Vidal Sáez, who would become his spouse.
She was just beginning her career as an academician at the Universidad de La Frontera in her native Temuco, in the Araucanía Region, in southern Chile, when she was sent to carry out her doctoral studies at the University of Santiago of Compostela (Spain). “It was very hot when I got to the airport, I missed the people who were going to pick me up and I had to arrive with my suitcases and by myself at the residence hall. It was all very chaotic and when I arrived at three in the afternoon, after a very long flight with many stops, I found a residence that was under construction. Then I thought: 'I am lost' and I saw a tall and thin man came out, the only person that was there. I asked him and it was Rodolfo, who helped me”.
The researcher narrates that Professor Rodríguez, at that time, had already been a Visiting Professor in the United States and was now doing a research stay in Spain. For this reason, they stay in the same residence that “was common for teachers and students, a place of transition for those who had not yet achieved a permanent place of residence”.
“We got along immediately. I really liked mathematics. It had been my aspiration, as a young girl, to study it, but it happened that, in Temuco, there were no graduate degrees in Mathematics”, she explains. Vidal details that when she told her future husband that she came from Temuco, a light shone on his face, because that reminded him of his vacations in the mountains: As a son of immigrants in Buenos Aires and an academician from the Universidad de La Plata, “he came to mountaineering at Junín de Los Andes, San Martín, Bariloche, and the buses that he saw passing by said 'Temuco’”.
However, Dr. Vidal explains, Prof. Rodríguez did not come to Chile until almost the day he married her. “He did not meet my parents before, he came straight to ask them for my hand and stayed living in Concepción”, she says.
“He was very well received by the Universidad de Concepción, being the second foreign professor to arrive at the Department of Mathematical Engineering of the UdeC, which, at that time, was directed by Prof. Gabriel Gatica, who restructured the academic staff, and bringing in many people with high capacity and international connections”, the academician explains. “A very powerful nucleus was put together and it has had an impact on other universities in Chile and Latin America, for example”.
“Rodolfo has a tremendous connection with his students. He is a very honest person with what he knows and gives it, and I think that is where that connection lies”, the researcher emphasizes.
Regarding the investiture received this Tuesday by her husband, Dr. Vidal explains that the human, academic and scientific quality of Dr. Rodríguez had been recognized twice before: “when he received the Municipal Prize for Sciences in 2005 and when a congress was organized in honor of his 60 years in 2014”, explained the scientist about the international event, called Latest Advances in Numerical Solutions with FEM, LANUS-FEM. On the Occasion of Rodolfo Rodríguez's 60th Birthday, which took place in Puerto Varas, for three days, and was organized by his students and CI²MA.