The UAL wins a double in the Young Computer Researchers awards

Nicolás Calvo and Savíns Puertas get the awards to Young Informatics Researchers of 2021 and 2022, delivered by the Computer Scientific Society of Spain-BBVA Foundationwhich has delivered the awards for the last two years.

Savins Puertas and Nicolás Calvo.

Nicholas Calvo arrived at the Almeria campus in the 2010/2011 academic year, belonging to the class that started the Computer Science Degree newly established in the catalog of degrees, and Savins Doors He did it in 2011/2012 to pursue those same studies. A decade later, and also with a year in between, the two have received a recognition of the greatest national relevancewhich is a source of pride for the University of Almería.

Not surprisingly, they have been trained at this university, completing the entire academic journey step by step, and it entails great prestige as an institution that two of its talents are awarded consecutively in 2021 and 2022. Both are graduates, masters and doctors in a UAL in which they have begun their lines of research, which are extending beyond their doctoral theses. The ‘Young Computer Science Researchers’ National Prize, awarded by the Spanish Computer Science Society – BBVA Foundation, has recognized their contributions.

In this sense, authors under 30 years of age whose works are the most innovative and relevant are rewarded. In this way, the most recent, Savíns Puertas, who is currently on a research stay with the ‘Chemoinformatics’ group at the University of Sheffield thanks to a Margarita Salas Grant that he will complete at the UAL, has been awarded, according to the jury, “for his excellent contributions in the field of high performance computingwhich have led to the development of innovative ttechniques that facilitate the design of new drugsas well as for its high level of internationalization”.

His research focuses on the virtual screening, a technique that allows selecting the compounds most similar to a reference molecule within a database that can contain millions of them. Thus, it accelerates drug discovery and development. Together with Nicolás Calvo, he is part of the TIC-146 ‘Supercomputing-Algorithms’ Research Group at the University of Almería, and both have Pilar Martínez Ortigosa as their main mentor.

Puertas has valued it as “a reward for all the work done since 2016, a recognition that this work has been done well, although sometimes the research is ungrateful, because you can be very good in your field, but depending on the subject it can be of interest or not.

In his case, “it was difficult to focus my doctorate on drug development as I was in Computer Science, but this decision has now reaped its fruits either with awards or with contributions to society”, he said. It was not expected to be awarded after a first attempt the previous year: “I had hope because COVID-19 was very present and my doctorate could provide solutions to it, but I was not lucky, and this edition already had the documentation prepared and I only had to update it, so I did not lose anything, but without many illusions; On the 24th I received the notification and it was my greatest joy”. He remembered his main supporters and “the three people who wrote a letter of support for my candidacy, Esther Martín, head of my research group, Carmelo Rodríguez, rector of the UAL, and Boglárka G.-Tóth, from the University from Szeged, Hungary.

He has valued his career at the University of Almería very positively: “The award has been the consequence of many things; At UAL the teachers treat us almost like family, and when you feel happy, you want to continue; For the doctorate, you already need funding and then you realize that not because it is a young or small university, there are no good groups; thanks to ‘Supercomputación y Algorithms’ I obtained an FPU scholarship and after finishing my doctorate I got a one-year contract in the same group, applied to radiotherapy, which has also influenced the award.

Nicolás Calvo, year 2021

As for Nicolás Calvo, he has also recounted his academic journey and his beginnings as a researcher at the UAL: “I studied the Degree in Computer Engineering, later the Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering; At the same time, as my Final Degree Project had already been oriented towards research, I was hired part-time in the ‘Supercomputing – Algorithms’ group under the direction of the one who had been my tutor, Dr. Pilar Martínez Ortigosa; I continued in that line for the Final Master’s Project and, finally, I also successfully applied for a FPU scholarship”.

In addition, he has been very grateful to the Plataforma Solar de Almería and the universities of Granada and Kent, “where I carried out very profitable research stays”, he has said literally to add that he continues to collaborate actively with PSA researchers, which I currently enjoy of a three-year contract at the UGR through a PAIDI.

He has recognized that this ‘Young Computer Science Researchers’ award has had a positive impact, “if not decisive”, on his career “by achieving my current contract or the Juan de la Cierva scholarship, which I finally decided to reject for the first one”, he revealed . To this he has added that “the ceremony and related events are part of the best moments I remember in my entire life, and it is something that encourages me when things do not go as expected, which happens a lot in research.”

Your contribution is very interesting. “The proposal of methods to make solar tower plants have more efficient designs and operating cycles”. In other words, it has tried to “contribute to making concentrated solar power more attractive if possible, also publishing some open source tools, the subject of my doctoral thesis and the framework of the contributions that were valued in the contest “, has added.

In addition, it carries out several more lines of research in “a very applicable area of ​​study, since we are always interested in maximizing, for example, profits, and minimizing variables, such as costs and errors.” His desire regarding the UAL, in relation to the impact of the award, is clear to him: “I would like it to serve to make all of Spain see that we have a lot to contribute, that being a relatively small and recent university does not detract from our worth; In my case, as in the case of my colleague Savíns, we have been fully trained at the UAL, and the knowledge and skills acquired are what have allowed us to carry out work worthy of this national mention”.

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