Science and technology in Venezuela

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Llano del Hato National Astronomical Observatory

Science and technology in Venezuela includes research based on exploring Venezuela's diverse ecology and the lives of its indigenous peoples.

Major research institutions include the Central University of Venezuela and the University of the Andes, Venezuela. Notable Venezuelan scientists include nineteenth century botanist Adolf Ernst, the chemist Vicente Marcano and the botanist and geographer Alfredo Jahn (1867–1940). More recently Augusto Pi Sunyer (es) (1955), Aristides Bastidas (1980), Marcel Roche (1987) and Marisela Salvatierra (2002) have been recipients of UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for promotion of the public understanding of science.



Pehr Löfling (Tolvfors Bruk, Gävle, Sweden, 31 January 1729 – San Antonio de Caroni (Guayana, Venezuela), 22 February 1756). Swedish botanist who studied at the University of Uppsala where he attended courses taught by Carl Linnaeus. When the Spanish ambassador at Stockholm asked Linnaeus to select a botanist for service in the American colonies, the professor at once named Loefling. He went to Spain in 1751 to learn Spanish, and then embarked with other scientists for Venezuela in February 1754. In Cumana he had entire charge of the department of natural history, and was assisted by two young Spanish doctors. He introduced the first microscope in Venezuela. His prematural death was considered a great loss to natural history, and especially to botany. Linnæus believed the loss irreparable. The manuscripts of Löfling, which were found after his death, were preserved by his two assistants and Linnnæus posthumously published his Iter Hispanicum, eller resa til Spanska Länderna uti Europa och America 1751 til 1756 in 1758. Parque Löefling in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela is named after him.

Henri François Pittier (August 13, 1857, Bex, Switzerland – January 27, 1950, Caracas, Venezuela) was a Swiss-born geographer and botanist. He graduated as an engineer from the University of Jena and moved to Costa Rica in 1887,[1] where he founded the Physical Geographic Institute and an herbarium. Pittier arrived in Venezuela in 1917, where he classified more than 30,000 plants and devoted many years to studying the flora and fauna in the country. Henri Pittier National Park was the first national park established in Venezuela.[2] The plant genera Pittiera (now considered a synonym of Polyclathra), Pittierella (now considered a synonym of Cryptocentrum) and Pittierothamnus (now considered a synonym of Amphidasya) are named after him.[1] His name is also associated with Pittier's crab-eating rat, Ichthyomys pittieri.[3]


Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy (Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, France, 25 August 1808 – Demerara, 3 September 1871) was a Venezuelan-French physician who made important contributions to the study of the causes of infectious diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and leprosy.[4][5] He was the first to systematically argue that malaria and yellow fever were transmitted by mosquitos.[6] He studied medicine at the Paris Faculty of Medicine, and obtained his M.D. in 1837. He was immediately appointed by the Paris Museum of Natural History as a "Travelling Naturalist" to work in Orinoco basin, Venezuela. He was one of the earliest scientists to observe microorganism using microscopy in relation to diseases. In 1838 he developed a theory that all infectious diseases were due to parasitic infection with "animalcules" (microorganisms). With the help of his friend M. Adele de Rosseville, he presented his theory in a formal presentation before the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. He suspected that mosquitos were the carriers of the infectious pathogens, including those of leprosy. In 1842 he worked at the Facultad Médica de Caracas (Caracas Medical School). In 1850 he became professor of anatomy at the School of Medicine of the College of Cumana.[7] He was appointed the Director of the Leper Hospital in Demerara in British Guiana, the post he held till his death.[4] By 1853, he was convinced that malaria and yellow fever were spread by mosquitos. He even identified the particular group of mosquitos that transmit yellow fever as the "domestic species" of "striped-legged mosquito", which can be recognised as Aedes aegypti, the actual vector. He published his theory in 1854 in the Gaceta Oficial de Cumana ("Official Gazette of Cumana"). His reports were assessed by an official commission, which discarded his mosquito theory.[6] Only after 1891, with the works of Carlos Finlay, his investigations are reviewed with seriousness. A hospital in Basse-Terre, called the Centre hospitalier Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy,[8] was established in 1959 in his honour.[9]

Rafael Rangel (Betijoque, 1877-Caracas, 1909). Venezuelan scientist and researcher, who devoted himself to tropical diseases. He is considered the father of parasitology and bioanalysis in Venezuela. He is famous for being the first to describe in Venezuela the Necator americanus, parasite that caused hookworm, between 1903 and 1904. As a researcher, in 1902 Rangel was appointed first director of the laboratory of histology and bacteriology of Vargas Hospital. In 1908, at the request of President Cipriano Castro, he was in charge of the sanitary campaign to eradicate bubonic plague In La Guaira, a year later, after falling into depression by several problems that arose during the plague and by the refusal to a longed for scholarship abroad, he committed suicide with cyanide.

Arnoldo Gabaldón (Trujillo, March 1, 1909 – Caracas, September 1, 1990) was a physician, researcher and politician. Graduated in 1928 earned a doctorate in medical sciences at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Then in Hamburg (Germany) completed a specialty at the Institute for Maritime and Tropical Diseases. Later traveling in 1935 to the United States as a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation to obtain a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in hygiene sciences with speciality in protozoology. Back in Venezuela he was appointed to head the newly created Special Directorate of Malariology within the Ministry of Health and Welfare, a position he held until 1950.[10] Under the direction of Gabaldón, Venezuela became the first country which organized a nationwide campaign against malaria by using DDT, which led to be the first to achieve eradication of the disease in a large area extension of the tropical zone.[10] He also discovered new species of malarial parasites and devoted himself to studying the mosquito Anopheles nuneztovari, action that catalyzed the recognition of educational needs and preparing managerial staff of the Ministry of Health, through the creation of the school that bears his name in Maracay, a deep and additional contribution.[11] Between 1959 and 1964 President Rómulo Betancourt appointed him Minister of Health and Welfare and Gabaldón developed a management program influenced by his professional background grounded in medical and environmental sanitation activities throughout the country. Gabaldón authored more than 200 papers published in national and international medical journals. Gabaldón was active as an expert of the World Health Organization (WHO) in work for malaria control in countries from 5 continents.

Jacinto Convit (Caracas, September 11, 1913 – Caracas-May 12, 2014) was a physician and researcher, known for developing a vaccine to fight leprosy and his studies to cure different types of cancer. In 1987, he received the Prince of Asturias Award in the Scientific and Technical Research category. Inspired by leprosy victims, he entered medical school at Central University of Venezuela (UCV) in 1932. He earned his title as a Medical Science Doctor in 1938. In 1968, Convit was elected president of the International Leprosy Association (ILA) and was re-elected in 1973.[12] In 1971, Convit was named by the WHO as Director of the Co-operative Centre for the Study and Histological Classification of Leprosy.[13] In 1976, Convit was elected Director of the Pan American Research and Training in Leprosy and Tropical Diseases.[14] He was also named president of the International Journal of Leprosy.[15] In 1987, Convit added killed Mycobacterium leprae to the BCG vaccine. The combined vaccine was tested worldwide, but was not more effective than regular BCG. A vaccine for leishmaniasis was later developed using Convit's method.[16] He also worked on oncocerosis, mycosis, and other tropical diseases.[14] In 1988, the Venezuelan government nominated Convit for a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his experimental anti-leprosy vaccine.


Jose Gregorio Hernández (Isnotu, 1858-Caracas, 1919). Graduated as a medical doctor at Universidad Central de Venezuela, in Caracas. The Venezuelan government awarded him a grant to continue his studies in Europe. Hernández traveled to Paris, France, where he studied other fields of medicine such as: bacteriology, pathology, microbiology, histology, and physiology. Following his return to Venezuela, he became a leading doctor at the Hospital José María Vargas. Between 1891 and 1916, Hernández dedicated himself to teaching, medicine, and religious practice. He sought priesthood in two occasions, but his fragile physical conditions would ultimately prevent him from achieving that status. He studied at the Monastery of Lucca in Italy for ten months in 1908. In 1913, he enrolled at the Latin American Pío School of Rome to continue the priestly career, but had to return to Venezuela for health reasons. Among the scientific publications of this famous Venezuelan are The Elements of Bacteriology (1906), About the Angina Pectoris of Malaric Origin (1909) and The Elements of Philosophy (1912). Dr. Hernández treated the poor for free and even bought them medicines with his own money. One day in 1919, while bringing medicine to the home of one of his patients in Caracas, Hernández was struck by a car and killed.


Baruj Benacerraf (Caracas October 29, 1920 – Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA, August 2, 2011)[17] was a Venezuelan-born American immunologist, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the "discovery of the major histocompatibility complex genes which encode cell surface protein molecules important for the immune system's distinction between self and non-self".[18] His colleagues and shared recipients were Jean Dausset and George Davis Snell.

Raimundo Villegas (Caracas, 14 September 1931 - Caracas, October 21, 2014) Venezuelan physician, researcher and scientist graduated at the Central University of Venezuela. Thanks to the support of the Mendoza Foundation, between 1956 and 1958 he was a research fellow in the Laboratory of Biophysics at Harvard Medical School. As student and graduate, he participated between 1952 and 1957 in the Institute of Medical Research of the Luis Roche Foundation. In this institution, he carried out research on the mechanical resistance of tissues to know the effect of various substances on elasticity, which could have interesting repercussions on various diseases affecting tissue such as Varicose Veins or Pulmonary emphysema. In 1958, he was a researcher at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), in charge of the Biophysics Laboratory. During this stage he concentrated on the biophysical and biochemical characterization of the peripheral nerve membranes - especially the nerve fibers of Squid and Sea lobster - and the sodium channel present in these membranes. From 1982, he continued his research from the Molecular Biology Unit of the Institute of Advanced Studies (IDEA), deepening the study of Neurotoxins, in the molecular biology of Neuronal Differentiation and Phylogenetics of Neurons. In 1979 he was appointed Minister of Science and Technology by the president Luis Herrera Campins.

José Esparza (born in Maracaibo in December 19, 1945) is a Venezuelan American virologist appointed as President of the Global Virus Network since January 2016.[19] He is known for his efforts to promote the international development and testing of vaccines against HIV/AIDS. During 17 years (till 1985) he pursued an academic career at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). From 1986 to 2014 he worked continuously as a viral vaccine expert and senior public health adviser for international health policy agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. José G. Esparza is currently an adjunct professor of medicine, at the Institute of Human Virology (University of Maryland School of Medicine).


Food chemistry[edit]

Vicente Marcano was an outstanding engineer, chemist, geologist, university professor and scientific disseminator. Graduated in philosophical sciences at the Central University of Venezuela, he continued his education at the French school of St. Louis, at the institution Davigneau de Lanneau and at the School of Arts and Manufactures of Paris. In 1887 he was appointed as chief of the Anthropology Commission, who conducted archaeological exploration campaigns of Lake Valencia (May–June), the Orinoco (August–December), the Karstic Formations in the Monagas state [20] and Falcón at the end of 1889. In these explorations Carlos Villanueva, Alfredo Jahn and Bonifacio Marcano also participated. Archaeological objects collected, were sent to Paris and today are in the Museum of Man. His exploration work served as a basis for the ethnological work of his brother Gaspar Marcano. Author of Elements of Chemical Philosophy where he defended the atomic theory (1881), wrote about his investigations in the Annales of the Science Agronomique Française et Etrangère, Bulletin of the Société Chimique de France and the Compte-Rendus, with wide popularization in Germany, England , United States and Venezuela. His main interest was the study of the fermentations of tropical fruits, in addition to the nitrated lands and the industrialization of sugar cane. In 1891, he founded the Municipal Laboratory in Caracas, later converted into the National Laboratory. His most important discovery was bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme extracted from pineapple juice. His remains were buried in the National Pantheon on July 10, 1991.[21]

Organic chemistry[edit]

Gioconda Cunto de San Blas (born in Caracas in 1943). Graduated in Chemistry (UCV, 1967), Ph.D. Biochemistry (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1972), Emeritus Titular Researcher (Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research, IVIC) where she did her full scientific career (1972-2010) in the field of biochemistry and cell biology of pathogenic fungi. She is the author of more than 130 publications in specialized international journals, author of three books on pathogenic fungi, published by Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, UK, between 2004 and 2008. In 2009 she was elected as the first woman president of the Academy of Sciences of Venezuela.


Civil engineering[edit]

Alfredo Jahn (Caracas, 1867- Caracas,1942) finished his studies at the end of 1886, and became an assistant engineer on railway construction. The following year, he participated in the preliminary studies for the construction of a major railroad between Caracas and Valencia with extension to San Carlos. As a Civil Engineer, he worked with civil engineer and lawyer German Jimenez in the National Plan of Highways and Railroads of Venezuela by order of the National Government. He was responsible for the construction of the railroad from Caracas to Valencia. He also built the highway from Caracas to El Junquito. In 1887 he accompanied the Venezuelan chemist Vicente Marcano on a scientific expedition to the upper Orinoco river, sent by President Antonio Guzmán Blanco. The trip provided geographical positions and a collection of plants and archaeological objects found today in United States and Germany. As a geographer he identified the rise of the Lake of Valencia and all its river basin hidrografica (all the rivers that falls in) and determined all the heights of the mountain Range of the Coast. He lived with the Orinoco Indians of the West of Venezuela and wrote books on their customs and dialects. As a botanist he classified many plants in Venezuela, donated botanical samples to the Smithsonian Institution, and wrote a book on the Palms of Venezuela (the Palms of the Flora Venezuelana - Caracas 1908). As founding member of the Sociedad Venezolana de Ciencias Naturales (Venezuelan Society of Natural Sciences) was its President in 1935 and 1937.[22] He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hamburg, and the Medal of the Berlin Geographical Society.[22] He received the Order of the Liberator.[22] The Alfredo Jahn Cave in Miranda is named for him; it is the sixth largest in the country.[23]

Food engineering[edit]

Luis Caballero Mejias (Caracas, 1903– Caracas, 1959) was a Venezuelan engineer who invented the Precooked maize flour for the arepas in the 1950s. The traditional preparation of arepa flour is very labor-intensive, requiring the pounding of maize in a large mortar, boiling and grinding. Caballero used the profits from his patent to finance a Technical Schools system. The precooked flour was later mass-produced and sold in larger quantities.[citation needed] In 1954, the Venezuelan beer and malted drinks company Empresas Polar developed an industrial production method, launching the brand Harina P.A.N. in 1960. The product rapidly gained acceptance among housewives because of the tremendous saving in domestic labor and its high quality. The original slogan was "Se acabó la piladera", which means "No more pounding". Harina P.A.N. has remained essentially unchanged since then, as can be seen from the original advertisements.


Luis Zambrano (Bailadores, 1901 – Tovar, 1990) was a Venezuelan self-taught inventor and popular technologist. He left formal education after the fourth year of primary school, but soon began to develop an interest in mechanics, enjoying discovering for himself the speed ratios produced by connecting oranges of different diameters and rotating them by means of jets of water. These gadgets lead him to consider new challenges and discover of physical principles in practical ways. In his Valle Nuevo workshop, near Bailadores, he empirically and intuitively learned enough about water turbines to generate electricity and mechanics to allow him to create about 50 inventions, some of which were commissions, such as a strawberry-peeling machine and a sieve for categorising garlic, and numerous improvements to various different machines, despite having lost his right hand to a saw in an accident in 1977. In November 1984, the University of Los Andes awarded him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa "for his useful creative work", the first time that this award had been given to a country man. He was declared an illustrious son of Bailadores, and a street in this Méridan village is now named after him.

Humberto Fernández-Morán (Maracaibo, February 18, 1924 – Stockholm, March 17, 1999) was a Venezuelan research scientist, renowned for inventing the diamond knife or scalpel, significantly advancing the development of electromagnetic lenses for electron microscopy based on superconducting technology, and many other scientific contributions. Dr. Fernández-Morán founded the Venezuelan Institute for Neurological and Brain Studies, the predecessor of the current Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC). In 1958 he was appointed Minister of Education during the last year of the regime of Marcos Pérez Jiménez and was forced to leave Venezuela when the dictatorship was overthrown. He worked with NASA for the Apollo Project and taught in many universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and the University of Stockholm. In the United States he was proposed to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. He rejected the nomination because he would have had to embrace American citizenship, which he refused, wanting to maintain his Venezuelan nationality.



Juan Manuel Cajigal y Odoardo (Barcelona, 1803 — Yaguaraparo, 1856) was a Venezuelan mathematician, engineer and statesman. Orphaned at age 7, he was raised in Spain by his cousin-once-removed, Field Marshal Juan Manuel Cajigal, former captain general of Venezuela and Cuba. He studied in the University of Alcalá de Henares and later in France, finishing his studies in 1828. He returned to Venezuela that year. He helped found the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País the following year, and in 1830 the government appointed him to create and direct the new Military Academy of Mathematics. He served in Congress twice, once in 1833 as representative of Caracas, and in 1835 as senator of Barcelona Province. With José Hermenegildo García and Fermín Toro he started the newspaper Correo de Caracas, which ran from 1838 to 1841. His publications include Tratado de mecánica elemental ("Treatise on Fundamental Mechanics") and Curso de astronomía y memorias sobre integrales entre límites ("Course on Astronomy and Report on Integrals between Limits"). The Juan Manuel Cajigal Naval Observatory in the 23 de Enero district of Caracas (Metro Station: Caño Amarillo), Juan Manuel Cajigal Municipality in Anzoátegui, and asteroid (minor planet) 12359 Cajigal are named after him.

Fancisco J. Duarte (Maracaibo 1883 - Caracas 1972) Engineer and mathematician. He obtained in 1900, the title of bachellor and surveyor in Puerto Cabello. In 1902 with only 19 old he dedicated to study of mathematics, doing a work on the sign p, presented to the Academy of Sciences of Paris in 1907. Graduated in 1908 in the Central University of Venezuela as civil engineer, later served as professor of geometry (1909-1911) and infinitesimal calculus (1936-1939). He studied mathematics at the University of Paris (1920). He was the consul of Venezuela in Geneva (1924-1929), director of the Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Juan Manuel Cajigal (1936-1941). He also served for many years as border director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1941-1968), a position that allowed him to participate in the delimitation of Venezuelan borders with neighboring countries, particularly Brazil. He chaired the College of Engineers (1937-1939) and the Academy of Physical, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (1941-1945 and 1954-1957) of which he had been a founding member (1933). Throughout his life he maintained a permanent correspondence with scientists from around the world on problems inherent to his specialty and has been considered as one of the most outstanding mathematicians of his time.



Francisco De Venanzi (Caracas, 12 March 1917 – Caracas, 12 September 1987) was a Venezuelan doctor, scientist and academic descendant of Italian immigrants. Graduated at the Central University of Venezuela in 1942, completed a Masters in Biochemistry at Yale University in 1945. He became a professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Central University of Venezuela, first in physiology, then in pathology and later in pathophysiology. Like other professors, he resigned in 1951 in protest at decree 321 of the military junta, which ended the autonomy of the university.[24] In 1950 De Venanzi founded the Venezuelan Association for the Advancement of Science (AsoVAC)[25] which publishes the journal Acta Científica Venezolana. In 1951, with Marcel Roche and other scientists, founded the Institute of Medical Research of the Luis Roche Foundation.[24] At the fall of the military government in 1958, Francisco de Venanzi is appointed President of the governing body at UCV, where he favors the return of professors retired from the university during the political crisis of 1952 and helps to establish the new university law. He was elected Rector from January 7, 1959, a post he held until 1963. Besides being a tireless experimenter who published numerous reports in international journals such as Acta Physiologica Latinoamericana and Acta Científica Venezolana, Francisco De Venanzi was a passionate promoter of knowledge, culture and political pluralism. He founded several important initiatives for local science progress, remaining active until his later years, despite the slowly progressing disability which undermined his physical health.[26] memories of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research.

Internal medicine[edit]

Marcel Roche (August 15, 1920, Caracas, Venezuela – May 3, 2003, Miami, United States) was a physician, researcher and scientific leader. Graduated in medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School, in Baltimore in 1946, he specialized in endocrinology and nuclear medicine. Before returning to Venezuela in 1951, he carried out biomedical research for some time at the New York Institute of Public Health. In Venezuela, Dr. Roche started several pioneering works as an Assistant Professor of the Central University of Venezuela on goitre, hookworm infections and nutritional deficiencies and anaemias, especially among the poor and aboriginal people. He was founder and director of the Institute of Medical Research at the Central University, and in 1958 he also became the Secretary General of the Venezuelan Association for the Advancement of Science(AsoVAC). Other institutions directed by him were the Institute of Neurology and Brain Investigation, reorganized in 1959 as the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). He was founder and director of the Venezuelan National Council of Scientific Investigation and the magazine Intersciencia, as well as being involved in the publishing of several other scientific periodicals. Dr. Roche was also a pioneer in the area of public understanding of science and a pioneer in the production of TV programs and documentary films on many science subjects. He was very active in promoting science to the public and participated in many national and international organizations promoting science. Dr. Roche was an advisor to the WHO, UNESCO, a Governor of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1958–1960), and was a Member and President of the Council of the University of the United Nations in Tokyo, and Secretary of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He received many honours and degrees from Belgium, Germany, France, the United States, India and Brazil. He won the Kalinga Prize in 1987 from UNESCO for his work.

Fuad Lechin (born in Caracas, August 8, 1928) Graduated as Physician at Central University of Venezuela (UCV) in 1951 with specialization in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Chief of the Sections of Neuropharmacology, Neurochemistry and Stress, Institute of Experimental Medicine of Central University of Venezuela. President of the Venezuelan Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He has published more than 240 papers on results of clinical, physiological, pharmacological and psychiatric research carried out by his team and is today a reviewer for several American and European medical and scientific journals. He has addressed national and international scientific congresses on Gastroenterology, physiology, pharmacology, psychosomatic, psychiatry, and psychoneuroendocrinology and has spoken by invitation to the research unit of pharmaceutical companies such as Sandoz (Basel), Lilly (Indianapolis), Janssen (Belgium), and Bristol (New York). Dr. Lechin has been nominated for the Nobel Prize of Medicine, 2001 based on the new treatment of bronchial asthma and myasthenia gravis developed and published by his research group. Emeritus Professor of General Pathology and Physiopathology at the Faculty of Medicine, Central University of Venezuela.


José María Vargas (10 March 1786, La Guaira – 13 April 1854, New York City) He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the Seminario Tridentino, and obtained in 1809 his medical degree from the Real y Pontificia Universidad de Caracas. Vargas was imprisoned in 1813 for revolutionary activities. Upon his release in 1813, he travelled to Scotland for medical training in the University of Edinburgh.[27] Vargas performed cataract surgery. He was one of the earliest oculists (eye surgeons) in Puerto Rico after his arrival there in 1817.[27] He returned to Venezuela to practice medicine and surgery in 1825.[27] Elected as President of Venezuela in 1835–1836 he resigned his charge in 1836. In 1839 Vargas receives from the President Paez office, an oil bottle found in Pedernales[disambiguation needed], located in the Canton of the Lower Orinoco. He submits it to various physical-chemical analyzes involved the fractional distillation and wrote a much more complete report than the "Silliman Report" which was written 16 years later and which nevertheless appears in texts, as the first scientific report on oil. His final paragraph confirms the wisdom of Vargas: "this finding is more precious and worthy of congratulation than that of the mines of silver and gold." It amazes that such phrase was written decades before the invention of the engine to explosion that uses petroleum derivates to move all the cars and airplanes in the 20th century."



Julian Chela-Flores (born 13 June 1942 in Caracas). Astrobiologist and physicist known for his contributions to the field of planetary habitability. He lived in England where he studied in the University of London, obtaining a PhD in Quantum Mechanics in 1969. From 1971 till 1990 he worked in academic matters continually, especially in research at the Centre of Physics, the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (Full Researcher 1978) and at the Physics Department, Simon Bolivar University (Full Professor 1980), both in Caracas. He is Full Professor ad honorem at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IDEA, Caracas) having been a co-founder of IDEA in 1980. Since 1994 he is an Associate Member of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste. His field of research is astrobiology, in other words the science of the origin, evolution, distribution and destiny of life in the universe, especially life on Europa, the Jovian satellite. [28]

Humberto Campins (born in Barquisimeto, 1946) is an international expert on asteroids and comets. He attended the University of Kansas where he earned a bachelor’s degree in astronomy. He went onto the University of Arizona where he earned a PhD in planetary sciences. As a graduate student he was named a representative to the Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He conducts research at observatories around the world, including Arizona, Chile, France, Hawaii, Spain and the Vatican. In 2010 he discovered water ice and organic molecules on the asteroid 24 Themis and later on 65 Cybele adding weight to the growing theory that Earth’s water may have come from asteroids. His expertise have landed him on NASA and European Space Agency teams preparing interplanetary vehicles that will launch in the coming few years, including the OSIRIS-REx project and the Marco Polo-R mission. Since 2002 worked at the University of Central Florida and University of Arizona. He has earned several prestigious awards including a Fulbright and the Don Quijote Award. The asteroid, 3327 Campins, was named after him.

Gustavo Bruzual (born in Caracas, August 2, 1949). Astronomer and PhD degree in 1981 from the University of California in Berkeley, USA. His thesis versed on Spectral Evolution of Galaxies. Then after he joined the staff at Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA) in Mérida, Venezuela, where he served for more than 30 years, including 21 years as director of the center. His research is centered on evolutionary population synthesis and modeling the spectral evolution of galaxies. His work in collaboration with S. Charlot (IAP, France) has become a landmark in the field. Their three papers together have received over 6200 citations. The Bruzual and Charlot (2003) models have proven very useful in deriving the physical properties of galaxies of different types observed in large galaxy surveys like the SDSS, allowing to characterize galaxies at various redshifts as belonging to the red sequence or the blue cloud, and providing an estimate of the stellar mass and its growth rate,in these systems. Currently G. Bruzual is working on improving different aspects of stellar population synthesis, like the treatment of TP-AGB and WR stars in spectral evolution models. Actually is investigador Titular at the Centro de Radioastronomía y Astrofísica (CryA) in the Morelia Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and professor at the UNAM Graduate Program in Astrophysics.

Particle physics[edit]

Mayly Sánchez (born in Caracas, 1972) Venezuelan-born particle physicist who researches at Iowa State University. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor given by the United States to beginning scientists, who are in the early stages of their research careers. In 2013, she was named by the BBC as one of the top ten women scientists in Latin America. At Universidad de Los Andes, ULA in Mérida completed an undergraduate degree in physics in 1995, and won a scholarship for postgraduate work at[29] the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. Earning her diploma in high energy physics in 1996, she was accepted into a doctoral program at Tufts University outside of Boston, Massachusetts[30] and completed her PhD in 2003.[31] After graduation, Sánchez worked as postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University. In 2007 she was hired as assistant physicist at the US Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory. In 2009 she joined the faculty of Iowa State University, where she is now an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Cassling Family Professor.[32] Her research is part of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which is planned to send an intense beam of neutrinos from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois to a detector located at the Homestake Mine in South Dakota.[33] The experiment is designed to help scientists understand how the universe formed and why neutrinos change form, especially when they pass through rock.[34] Sánchez is also working on the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search and NOνA experiments designed to study neutrino oscillations sent from Fermilab detectors in northern Minnesota,[33] and she is a spokesperson of the Accelerator Neutrino Neutron Interaction Experiment (ANNIE) at Fermilab. In 2012, the White House announced[35] that Sánchez was one of the 2011 PECASE Award winners, which is the highest award granted by the United States to young scientists beginning their careers.[36] In 2013, she was named by the BBC as one of the top ten women scientists in Latin America.[37]

Theoretical physics[edit]

Luis Herrera Cometta (born December 20, 1946) is a Venezuelan relativity physicist, whose research focuses on the study of anisotropy,[38] the extended thermodynamics, exact and semi numeric solutions, axial symmetric solutions, alternative approaches to detect gravitational radiation using gyroscopes and recently about the relevance of super energy and super Poynting in General Relativity. Herrera is Emeritus Professor in the Escuela de Física at Universidad Central de Venezuela and currently is Visiting Professor at the Instituto Universitario de Fisica Fundamental y Matematicas, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. He helped to found the Relativity and Fields Seminar at Universidad Simón Bolívar. He is considered an authority in anisotropic effects on gravitational collapse; he is a pioneer in the heritage of symmetries within General Relativity and in the application of Extended Thermodynamics for Astrophysical scenarios. Herrera is known for semi numerical approaches to self gravitating objects,[39] later interpreted as the Post-Quasistatic-Approximation, with a wide applications spectrum in Relativistic Astrophysics and basically in the spherical context. Recently (2011) he won a Honorific Mention for his essay on the meaning of general covariance and the relevance of observers in general relativity.[40]

Social sciences[edit]


Adolf Ernst (Primkenau, Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, (today Przemków, Poland) October 6, 1832 - Caracas, Venezuela, August 12, 1899) was a Prussian-born scientist. Ernst settled in Venezuela in 1861, where he taught at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He became the most important scientist in the country during the second half of the 19th century and was a key figure in the creation of the Museum of Natural Science and the National Library of Venezuela, where he also served as its director.[41] He developed important scientific works in this country. He is regarded as the founder of the Venezuelan positivist school and marked influence on generations of scientists in Venezuela.


Maria Elena Marroco Valero (born in Valencia, Spain, April 17, 1938). She is social scientist specializing in the learning of Organizational Change. Professional musician of the conservatory of music of Valencia (1960), Graduate in Education (1978) and Doctor in Social Sciences (1996) by the Central University of Venezuela. Its main contribution to education and the productive world is to maintain a line of research in social sciences, from 1969 to the present, aimed at decoding change in organizations as social cells, resulting in their theory of learning organizational change 1990 – 1994) and then the Work Education System (SET ©) (1996–2005) that would put theory into action, thus proposing a systemic option to approach organizational change.


Computer science[edit]

Evelyn Miralles (born in Caracas, 1967) is a pioneer of virtual reality at NASA. Since 1992 has worked at the Johnson Space Center's Virtual Reality Laboratory[42] in Houston (Texas),[43] where she is the Principal Engineer and Technology Strategist. Miralles has been supporting space shuttle and International Space Station missions. Her first project was building a 3D model of a habitat on the moon. It was not feasible but could possibly be used in the future for a mission to Mars.[43] Miralles was the co-author of the Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics (DOUG) which has been used since 1993 for training in virtual reality by astronauts of STS 61 mission who repaired the space telescope Hubble, and then for all the other missions.[43] She worked also in the space station ISS, designing the structure and work steps for the astronauts.[citation needed]


L. Rafael Reif (born in Maracaibo, August 21, 1950). Venezuelan American electrical engineer graduated in Universidad de Carabobo, inventor and academic administrator. On July 2, 2012 was elected president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, succeeding Susan Hockfield. His research centered on three-dimensional integrated circuit technologies and on environmentally benign microelectronics fabrication. An early champion of MIT's engagement in micro- and nanotechnologies, Dr. Reif is the inventor or co-inventor on 13 patents, has edited or co-edited five books and has supervised 38 doctoral theses.

Scientific institutions[edit]

The Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC) is a scientific research institute and graduate training in Venezuela founded on February 9, 1959 by government decree, has its origins in the Venezuelan Institute of Neurology and Brain Research (IVNIC) which Dr. Humberto Fernandez Moran founded in 1955.

The Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomia (CIDA) was founded in honour of Francisco J. Duarte in 1975 for promoting observation, investigation, experimentation, theoretical work, and dissemination of research in the field of astronomy. Venezuela's main astronomical observatory is the Llano del Hato National Astronomical Observatory, located 3600m above sea level in the Venezuelan Andes. It participates in the Quasar Equatorial Survey Team.

The Institute of Venezuelan Petroleum Technology (INTEVEP) is the Research and Development subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) and is considered the technologic arm of the corporation. Intevep develops projects in the areas of oil exploration, production and refining. In 1976, the construction project for the facilities and laboratories of INTEVEP was started, located in what until that year had been a Jesuit seminary, called Villa Pignatelli, chosen for meeting the ideal conditions of geographical location. In June 1979, INTEVEP was incorporated as a trading company, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela. Currently, it is the headquarters of the Metropolitan Social District for the Altos Mirandinos and has the coordination of the Ribas Mision.

Venezuela has a space agency, Agencia Bolivariana para Actividades Espaciales and control two stationary satellites: Simon Bolivar and Miranda.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]