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Award ceremony for the Board of Trustees of the UB and Bosch i Gimpera Awards to research and knowledge transfer

Group photo of the awardees at the award ceremony.

Group photo of the awardees at the award ceremony.



On Wedndesday, December 1, the Aula Magna of the Historical Building hosted the award ceremony for the Board of Trustees and Bosch i Gimpera Awards. The rector of the UB, Joan Guàrdia, the president of the Board of Trustees, Joan Corominas, and the director of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, Carme Verdaguer, gave the prizes to this year’s awardees.



The José Manuel Blecua Prize, given to the top article published in a distinguished journal in the field of humanities and social sciences resulting from a doctoral thesis, was given to a research study by Daniel Daví, on the location of the energy production in Spain. It concludes that the current location of the combined and central cycles of co-generation is efficient, while the wind energy has to go a longer distance to reach the great consumption areas. Nowadays, areas with a higher concentration of renewable generation, such as the Northwestern area of the Iberian Peninsula, show higher congestion levels of the electric network than the others in the rest of the territory. The awarded study gives some recommendations regarding energy policies, such as “promotion policies of renewable energies (auctions) including locational incentives to promote a more distributed and balanced location across the territory”. The study is collected in a doctoral thesis supervised by the emeritus professor of Economics María Teresa Costa and Elisa Trujillo (UdLl) and has been published in the article Analysing electricity flows and congestion: Looking at locational patterns.

The research study by Albert Cortijos, a milestone in molecular electronics, is the awardee of the Ramon Margalef Prize to the top research published in a distinguished journal in the field of experimental and health sciences derived from a doctoral thesis. In particular, the research uses an electric field to provoke a catalysis (an acceleration of a chemical reaction). That is, the process takes place without a catalysing substance. This advance, published in an article in Nature, opens the door to a faster and more economic production of chemical compounds used in a great range of pharmaceutical products and applied materials. “We applied large electric fields or a molecule, which promote the chemical reaction”, notes Cortijos. This new nanochemical perspective of the chemical synthesis comprises the union of individual molecules, as if they were coupling Lego pieces, to create new molecular structures, and could lead to more efficient methods for the production of new chemical compounds. Cortijos took the oral examination of his thesis in 2017 at the UB, which was co-supervised by Fausto Sanz Carrasco and Ismael Díez-Pérez.

The Ramon Margalef Prize obtained a secondary award, given to the researcher Raimon Luna, who developed an efficient algorithm to solve dynamic equations of black holes based on spectral numerical methods. The study is the first theoretical evidence that shows that black hole collisions can lead to naked singularities, space-time areas that break Einstein’s laws of general relativity. The study, gathered in the article Cosmic censorship violation in black hole collisions in higher dimensions, shows the need for a new physics that goes beyond the current theory of gravity. Luna took the oral examination of the thesis at the UB, with ICREA researcher Roberto Emparan as its supervisor.

The Antoni Caparrós Prize to the top project of knowledge transfer was given to “La geoquímica isotòpica: una nova tecnologia per a la millora de la gestió del medi ambient”. It consists on using the analysis of different natural isotopes present in water pollutants, such as nitrates or sulphates, to determine the origin of such pollutants and therefore improve the environmental management. This technology with isotopes can be sued to quantify the efficiency of used decontamination treatments, since the degradation processes are associated with a change in the isotopic composition. This is a Project by the research Project with TECNIO MAiMA accreditation, led by UB Professor Albert Soler i Gil. The technology has been transferred to companies and bodies of the public administration, such as the Catalan Water Agency (ACA), the Catalan Waste Agency (ARC), the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographical Challenges, through the public company TRAGSA, and Chile’s General Water Department (DGA).

Another awardee of the Antoni Caparrós Prize was the collaborative project “Cocreació de projectes educatius de museus”, presented by Núria Serrat, Serra Hunter tenure-track 2 lecturer of the Faculty of Education of the UB. This initiative, developed together with the company ADhoc Cultura, has enabled the design of a collaborative process to create educational plans in the museums of Catalonia, such as the Olot Museums, the Museum of Empordà, the Museum of l’Hospitalet, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, the Catalonia Railway Museum and the Arts Museum of Girona. The aim of the project was to make the museums’ educational plans more adapted to the features and needs of the final addressees. The result is a standardized methodology for creating co-creative processes in the cultural and educational fields, the people-oriented culture.

Qilimanjaro Quantum Tech received the Senén Vilaró Prize to the top innovative business. This is a spin-off of the University of Barcelona, the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC) and the Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE). With three former UB students and the professor of the Faculty of Physics José Ignacio Latorre among its founders, Qilimanjaro works on a disruptive platform of quantum computing, the new paradigm that will revolutionize the computer sector during the next sector. This type of computing uses the phenomena of quantum physics to exponentially increase the power of calculus and tackle problems in areas such as the development of new drugs, the assessment of financial risks and logistic pathways, which are now intractable for the most advanced supercomputers. Qilimanjaro has signed two important contracts with customers from France and the United Arab Emirates for a value of more than three million euros and it also takes part in the European project Horizon 2020 AVaQus, recently given by the European Commission and led by one of the co-founders of Qilimanjaro, Pol Forn Díaz (IFAE). Moreover, it offers consultancy services for companies interested in these technologies or those that need to adapt to quantum computing.

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