Science in Brazil: Are the Brazilians in Paris the real South Americans?

Hemingway wrote in The Sun Also Rises: “You can see all the South Americans you want in Paris… They’re not the real South Americans.” The Economist enters the classic dialogue in a piece on science education in Brazil:

“POPULAR with foreigners looking for sun, sea and samba, Brazil wants to turn itself into a hot destination for seekers of science. Though its own bright graduates still head to Europe or the United States for PhDs or post-doctoral fellowships, nowadays that is more because science is an international affair than because they cannot study at home. The country wants more of them to return afterwards, and for the traffic to become two-way. Brazil is no longer a scientific also-ran. It produces half a million graduates and 10,000 PhDs a year, ten times more than two decades ago. Between 2002 and 2008 its share of the world’s scientific papers rose from 1.7% to 2.7%. It is a world leader in research on tropical medicine, bioenergy and plant biology. It spends 1% of its fast-growing GDP on research, half the rich-world share but almost double the average in the rest of Latin America. Its scientists are increasingly collaborating with those abroad: 30% of scientific papers by Brazilians now have a foreign co-author. Becoming part of the global scientific endeavour is about more than national pride. By doing their own science, developing tropical countries can make sure that it is not only the problems of people in rich, temperate places that get solved. São Paulo, Brazil’s richest state, is leading the effort. It has the country’s best universities, including the only two that make it into the top 300 in both of the best-known global rankings. Its constitution guarantees the state research foundation, known as FAPESP, 1% of the state government’s tax take. That amounted to $450m in 2010, and comes on top of money from the federal government.”

Published by Janar Wasito

Janar Wasito is the manager of Magis Capital in San Diego, CA. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School, and a former Marine Officer.

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