Building the future with friends

Building the future with friends

Growing professionally alongside with Roberto Assef was a precious opportunity that brought be back to Chile.

The working space in a given university is never perfect, no doubt about it. But we’re much happier about our jobs when we focus on the uniquely good things about them. In my Institute, the now-called Institute of Astrophysical Studies (Instituto de Estudios Astrofísicos, IEA) of Diego Portales University, one such good things is the other astronomers I get to work with daily. 

Indeed, that was one of the major reasons when I got the offer to join UDP, to collaborate with some of the team members that was asking me to join them.  Roberto Assef, in the middle of this picture, was one of them. We know each other since the beginning of our scientific journey, namely, since first year at University. We’re of the same generation from the Pontifical Catholic University in Chile, we had most of the courses together, and we became friends. Roberto was always the best student, but at the same time, the one who helped and respected the rest. 

Roberto went to do his PhD in the US, I went shortly after him to do mine to Germany. We separated our ways, though stayed in contact via email sharing the experiences of being a student abroad. Both kept growing scientifically and personally and while we stopped sending us that many e-mails, it was never irrelevant for me to know that Roberto was doing great. I never really followed his research, too different than mine I thought, both in terms of science questions and teams, but when I was asked to come back and work with him, I knew the synergies were going to be interesting. 

It’s been more than 5 years working together, and I haven’t regretted it once. It is so nice to have a friend I can tell my dreams and scientific ideas, a friend that has ears for my complains and struggles, a friend I can always ask for favours, for backups, and a friend that would do the same to me. Roberto believes in the same way as I do that with effort and commitment one can achieve every goal.  We’ve been working really hard to make of the IEA a place of scientific thrive, a place of diversity, an attractive place for modern society, a place of curiosity and happiness. Although we haven’t always agreed on the best strategy to approach situations, our friendship has allowed us to discuss the differences and build upon them. Regardless what the IEA really has become, the journey on establishing the IEA in Chilean Society has been undoubtedly one of my greatest adventures to have returned home. 

This picture was taken by of our PhD students in Temuco, at the conference organised by the Chilean Society of Astronomy (SOCHIAS). It is nice that our students enthusiastically ask their supervisors to pose of a picture.  It is nice they trust and like us. It was quite funny to ask Roberto to stand in the middle. He looks actually quite proud of standing in the middle of all the ladies, we’re colleagues that can challenge him but acknowledge that he is a unique scientist and we’re proud he is our ally.