Bilbao celebrates years in “the best company” with the winners of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

Maika Salguero

The mayor welcomes “the brightest minds in the whole world”, before they receive their award this Thursday

Helena Rodriguez

The Bilbao City Council dressed up this Wednesday to receive both the organization and the juries and the winners of the XIV edition of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards of the BBVA Foundation, whose award ceremony will be held this Thursday at the Euskalduna Palace. On the steps of the building, the mayor, Juan Mari Aburto, the president of the foundation, Carlos Torres Vila, and Rosa Menéndez, president of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), were waiting after noon. They greeted each and every one of the 13 winners who got off a minibus under a punishing sun only tempered by the sea breeze. Charles Fefferman was missing, who was unable to attend due to health problems.

The most elegant of rooms awaited them: the Arab Room. Before, smiling, the winners posed with the authorities for the family photo and watched with some curiosity the cloud of cameras that swarm around them. “They are people of science and they are not used to having so many journalists,” pointed out one of the BBVA Foundation protocol managers.

Formal, they posed with the authorities and watched the aurresku of honor with attention and curiosity. The pirouettes of the pair of dantzaris amazed more than one. Then came the turn of the speeches. After welcoming them in Basque, Spanish and English, Aburto recalled that it was a very special day for the town. “Today he turns 722 years old and celebrates it in the best possible company, with a representation of the brightest minds from around the world.”

Already in English, the councilor recalled that «last year we had the honor of receiving in this City Council the prestigious biologists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, winners of the XIII Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, who two weeks later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine ». So he did not miss the opportunity to wish the same luck to those distinguished in this edition and thanked “the personal and institutional commitment” of the BBVA Foundation, with its president Carlos Torres Vila at the head, “for linking the name of Bilbao with the vanguard of universal knowledge. “That knowledge always looks to the horizon, like the old Bilbao merchants at the end of the Middle Ages, in search of new frontiers that feed humanity’s constant desire to know and advance,” he compared.

overall projection

The reception, which was also attended by members of the Municipal Corporation, marked the opening of the official acts of celebration and delivery of these awards in the Biscayan capital, “permanent headquarters of these awards”, as Torres Vila pointed out. «BBVA shares with Bilbao a vocation for knowledge, innovation, leadership and global projection, elements that are more than ever necessary in an environment of disruption driven by technological innovation and sustainability», he proclaimed before highlighting that the origin of the Fronteras Awards « there is the conviction that knowledge is the best tool to understand the world and ourselves, face the great challenges of our time and create opportunities for all».

The applause of those present gave way to a musical piece performed with txistu and tamboril. More relaxed, some like Katalín Karikó, winner in the Biology and Biomedicine category along with Robert Langer and Drew Weissman, followed the rhythm of the melody with a big smile and a sneaky little dance. After having a txakoli and some gildas, chosen by those responsible for the municipal catering to entertain visitors from other parts “because there is nothing more typical and rich”, Karikó acknowledged with a smile that he had really liked the performance and that he would have danced more « if it weren’t for the pain in my knees.”

Not far away, Simon Asher Levin, winner in the Ecology and Conservation Biology category with Leonore Fahring and Steward TA Pickett, looked curiously at the gilda offered by the waiter who explained the composition of the bite. He seemed to convince him to sink his teeth into it after which he nodded in approval. Just an appetizer of what awaits you today.

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Bilbao celebrates years in “the best company” with the winners of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards