The BBVA Foundation celebrates ten years of promoting research and cultural creation through the Leonardo Scholarships

The first ‘Generation Leonardo’ presents more than 600 scientific articles, 130 artistic works and 120 concerts

This week, the BBVA Foundation celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Leonardo Scholarships, which promote research and cultural creation, with an event at the Teatro Real in Madrid that brought together 300 of the scholarship recipients who have received aid in different areas of science. and culture.

In 2014, the entity created the program to “support science and culture of excellence”, as well as “its projection to society.” In this way, the scholarships are aimed at professionals between 30 and 45 years old who, as explained, are at a “decisive moment” in their careers in which they combine “a solid career with great growth potential.”

In this context, the Leonardo Scholarships – whose total endowment amounts to 22.5 million euros in its first 10 editions – have given rise to a “first Leonardo Generation” that has created: 600 scientific articles; 150 books and monographs; 130 artistic works, 120 concerts, 70 recordings and publications of musical works, 35 original compositions, 50 exhibitions and 30 documentaries, films and video art pieces.

As the professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid and member of the Engineering Evaluation Commission, María Henar Miguélez, has highlighted, “in the face of the much-discussed flight of talent to other countries”, having a group of people “with great capacity for generating knowledge and transferring it to society” is “reassuring” in a context in which “a renewed impulse and responsible people who are up to the task are needed more than ever.”


During the event, nine researchers and creators were given a voice and spoke on behalf of the various scientific and cultural areas of the Leonardo Network: Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics); Biology and Biomedicine; Environmental and Earth Sciences; Engineering; Computer Science and Data Science; Social Sciences; Humanities; Plastic arts; Music and Opera; Literary Creation and Performing Arts.

From the perspective of Basic Sciences, the Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (CSIC-UV), María Moreno Llácer, and the Leonardo Scholarship in Physics in 2022 to explore the nature of some of the most elementary components of matter , has highlighted the “creative freedom” offered by the BBVA Foundation program.

For his part, biologist Pau Carazo, who obtained a Leonardo Scholarship in Environmental Sciences in 2018 to investigate the interrelation between “the two great environmental challenges”: climate change and species extinction, has highlighted that investing in projects that study environmental challenges “is more urgent today than ever.”

Along these lines, the advances made by research to face the “great challenges in the field of health” have been evident in the intervention of the researcher at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), Pilar Martín, who in 2016 received a Leonardo Scholarship in Biomedicine to develop a new diagnostic method capable of detecting acute myocarditis.

Likewise, the professor of Sociology at the University of Malaga, Luis Ayuso, obtained a Leonardo Scholarship in 2021 to study the complexity of today’s society, transformed, as the BBVA Foundation has pointed out, by phenomena such as globalization, digitalization, the decline birth rate and extension of life expectancy.

In this “very uncertain context”, reporter Pilar Cebrián, who has covered the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza as a special envoy for Antena 3 Noticias, and in 2018 received a Leonardo Scholarship in Communication and Information Sciences, recalled that, in the current geopolitical scenario, “society is lost without journalism.”


During the event, the engineer José Adam – professor at the University of Valencia and Leonardo Scholarship in Engineering in 2017 – also focused on the potential of the “wide range of disciplines” that the BBVA Foundation program covers, from fundamental to applied science or innovation and development, “all of which are necessary to address the challenges of today’s world.”

In his case, the support of the Leonardo Scholarship allowed him to develop a new technique to prevent the collapse of buildings in extreme situations such as earthquakes and terrorist attacks. “A radical idea that, surely” – as he has pointed out – “would not have been financed in another call for national projects.”

For his part, researcher Santiago Mazuelas from the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics, who obtained his Leonardo Scholarship in 2018 in Information and Communication Technologies to enhance the learning capacity of artificial intelligence systems, has highlighted that the relevance of the program “It goes far beyond financing,” due to the “stimulus” of being part of the community that makes up the Leonardo Network, which, as he points out, makes them feel “a group supported by society.”

Regarding the value of cultural creativity, the novelist Marta Barrio, Leonardo Scholarship in Literary Creation in 2022, has celebrated the fact that the Leonardo Scholarships, “which support authors like no other in the country”, make possible the ” chimera” of “living from writing”, by “adequately remunerating creators in a context where the precariousness in which the majority of them live has been normalized.”

Likewise, the composer, Raquel García Tomás, winner of the National Music Prize in 2020 who composed her opera Alexina B with the support of a Leonardo Scholarship, has claimed the contribution to the country’s cultural heritage of the projects supported by the program of the BBVA Foundation in this field of artistic creation: “Music, like science and the humanities, has been a fundamental agent in the development of society throughout history, and must continue to be so.”

Along these lines, the president of the BBVA Foundation, Carlos Torres Vila, has highlighted that “the best knowledge” is necessary to “successfully” face the current environment. “Today, more than ever, we must invest in the future by supporting professionals with an innovative, curious, exploratory and learning attitude, who serve as an inspiration for future scientists and artists, as well as a guide for decision-making by everyone. citizens,” he concluded.

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