Luis Vega receives the "Julio Rey Pastor" 2021 National Prize for Research in Mathematics and Information and Communication Technologies at a ceremony held in Barcelona

Source: Ministerio de Ciencia | Guillermo Castellví
  • The event was attended by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, Minister Diana Morant, Minister Joan Subirats and Mayor Ada Colau.
  • During the event, there was a round table discussion between three of the award winners where they talked about women in science, basic and applied science, and current challenges

Luis Vega González, Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and coordinator of the Analysis of Partial Differential Equations area and principal investigator of the Severo Ochoa accreditation of the Basque Centre for Applied Mathematics (BCAM) received the National Research Award “Julio Rey Pastor” 2021, in a ceremony held in Barcelona yesterday, 5 May 2022, at the Auditori Fòrum CCIB.

The event was attended by His Majesty King Felipe VI, Diana Morant, Minister of Science and Innovation, and Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, who spoke to the attendees, highlighting the importance of the role of science in the progress of society and the need to work together, among other things.

On the other hand, a round table was held with three of the award winners: Purificación Muñoz, Margarita Díaz-Andreu and Hermenegildo García. Among the topics they discussed was women in science, emphasising the work that needs to be done to encourage and support girls and young women in this field, in which BCAM is very involved, with participation in various STEM initiatives.

They were also asked about basic and applied research, where the complementarity of both branches of science was pointed out.

Another question was focused on the main current challenges. The first response concerned the importance to be given to the humanities and social sciences. They also highlighted as a current challenge the future of science, both in Europe and in Spain, as it should not be left aside and we must continue to support it. Finally, they commented that an important challenge focuses on the field of sustainability, circular economy and clean energies.

Accompanying Prof. Vega, the event was attended by José Antonio Lozano, Scientific Director of BCAM.

After the ceremony we had the opportunity to talk to Prof. Vega about different aspects of the event:

What were your impressions after the ceremony?

I really enjoyed it very much. The speeches of both His Majesty the King and the Minister were very good. Highlighting the role of science, and in particular public funding, which is the main burden, is always important, but even more so because of the pandemic. The speech by the Mayoress of Barcelona seemed to me to be very appropriate, as it is one of the cities of science in Europe, and in particular of mathematics. And remembering and vindicating it is very positive.

Personally, it has been a very pleasant time. It is very gratifying to receive congratulations from friends and colleagues who also convey their joy at the prize. It is certainly a day I will never forget.

What do you think is the main challenge facing mathematics and science today?

In mathematics, the new challenges come from the life and social sciences, because they are much more “disordered” than the physical sciences. Randomness is an intrinsic ingredient of these fields, so statistical and probabilistic techniques are indispensable. Recent advances in the massive use of data have shown us new horizons, with questions that until recently were unthinkable within mathematics. And within the physical sciences, there is a lot of activity both in Fluid Mechanics and in everything related to the relativistic and non-relativistic quantum world. There is a need for new mathematics to be able to answer new questions.

How do you see the future of mathematics? And the role of women?

Mathematics is experiencing a moment of splendour and I would say that the future is even more promising. The Basque Country, thanks to the creation of Ikerbasque, has anticipated in some way this “ebullition” that has taken place over the last 15 years. The recruitment of top researchers and the creation of BCAM allow us to face the coming years with confidence. On the role of women, I would say that all the efforts that can be made to involve women in the solution to the new problems and challenges are too few. For example, it is essential to develop good dissemination campaigns to bring mathematics and its possibilities closer to all young people, paying special attention to young women.

About Luis Vega

He graduated in Mathematics from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 1982. He received his doctorate in 1988 from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and after a two-year stay at the University of Chicago, he joined the UAM. In 1993 he joined the University of the Basque Country, where he has been Professor of Mathematical Analysis since 1995.

Professor Vega is currently the Principal Investigator of the Severo Ochoa accreditation at BCAM and a world-renowned expert in partial differential equations and Fourier analysis. He has been vice-president of the Spanish Royal Mathematical Society (RSME) and a member of the Spanish Society of Applied Mathematics (SEMA), and he is currently an officer of the International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM). He is also a member of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europaea.

In his extensive career, Prof. Vega has been awarded for his research work on several occasions: in 2012 he received the Euskadi Research Award and Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (Inaugural Class), and in 2015 he received the Blaise Pascal Medal in Mathematics.

He also has led the HADE project (Harmonic Analysis and Differential Equations: new challenges) funded by the European Research Council.