Pedro Carrasco Sorlí is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Valencia, a position handed down to him from the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Esteban Morcillo. Holding a Bachelor in Chemistry, his research has focused largely on the field of biotechnology. Until his appointment to the Chancellery, Pedro Carrasco was the Director of the Central Support Services for Experimental Research at the University of Valencia. With respect to research, he is the head of the Biotechnology Research team working on plant-based polyamides within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where he is tenured Professor. His studies focus on the signalling and response mechanisms of higher plants to environmental stressors.
We interviewed him at the vice-chancellor’s office, in the beautiful building rising up over the leafy Blasco Ibáñez avenue crowned by the tower of the ancient astronomical observatory. However, the pro-vice-chancellor’s office itself seems fairly neutral and conventional, the somewhat spartan setting broken only by a couple of striking silkscreen prints by Adrià Pina and Ràfols-Casamada. We comment on these artworks and he tells us they are there thanks to Maria Josep Cuenca, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for research a few years ago (who we interviewed in a previous issue). Professor Carrasco is a man of science, immersed in the everyday life of scientific management. The responses he gave in this interview fully convey his enthusiasm for research, and the need to popularize it.
You have taken over the post vacated by the current Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Valencia, Professor Esteban Morcillo….
Do you think we’re on the right path towards this «university of excellence» that everyone’s talking about?
In an article published in an earlier issue (Mètode 66) you indicated that people equate university with teaching alone. What are we doing wrong?
Sometimes it can be too late for some students. Perhaps the University should raise greater awareness of this need.
In the aforementioned article you also said the University must act in response to the crisis… How?
You said that the response to the crisis should not be confined to budgetary issues… Has the crisis affected our research that much?
You stated that public universities must constantly demonstrate their profitability and strong capacity to generate wealth for society.
You have written that researchers’ efforts must have an impact when they disseminate their results, with rigour and quality. However, don’t you think outreach is still underrated?
Perhaps it is not a question of underrating, but popularization carries very little weight in a curriculum vitae. Some people even hide it, because sometimes it is even counterproductive. On requesting a six-year productivity bonus evaluation, for example, popular dissemination may even be an obstacle. Isn’t this all rather contradictory?
2011 is the Year of Chemistry. What activities are planned to celebrate the event?
As a biochemist yourself, no doubt you take a special interest.
What is the public’s vision of chemistry?
Do you think society perceives science as something good? I mean, is there a negative perception of scientists as people who devote their time to research that may be dangerous?
A couple of years ago, I wound up my interview with Professor Esteban Morcillo with a quote from Diderot. «One may demand of me that I should seek truth, but not that I should find it.» Do you think society wants to know the truth?
What do you think about Pope Wojtyla’s miracles?
You bet I will!
|© M. Lorenzo
«A huge effort must be made to convey that universities are more than just educational centres»
«Society prefers to live in ignorance»
«To understand life, chemistry is fundamental. Chemistry can explain any process!»
«I’m not going to tell you what I think of miracles because you’ll write it down!»
© Mètode 2011 - 69. Online only. Elective Affinities - Spring 2011