The new Minister of Science, Diana Morante, took office today in Madrid with a message to scientists, young people who are starting their careers and those who have had to leave Spain for work. “You are our future,” he said, adding, “From public administration we have to be able to create opportunities, retain talent, and restore illusion.”
A communications engineer and now mayor of Gandia, Morante has also been committed to improving researchers’ working conditions with greater professional stability.
Morant also focused particularly on “listening to the invisible women of science for centuries” and thanked Pedro Sánchez for his efforts to rectify this situation and for his appointment. “The communications student I once went to, very alone in a prominent boys’ class, would have appreciated too.”
“When a global pandemic values science and innovation, and makes two sure things; first, that science is the answer. And second, innovation is appearance”
Former mayor replaced astronaut Pedro Duque in one of the department’s sweetest moments: implementing historical science budgets that will be 60% higher than those of 2020 thanks to an injection of funds from the European Union.
“I realize I came to this portfolio at a crucial moment,” he explained. “When a global pandemic values science and innovation, making two sure things; first, that science is the answer. And second, innovation is appearance. The urgent focus is tackling environmental and digital transformation, and designing a more prosperous and just future,” Morant added.
The engineer said it was “an honor” to succeed astronaut Pedro Duque, whom she thanked for his “wise advice”.
The astronaut decided to skip most of the speech he had prepared to finally defend his accomplishments at the helm of the ministry. “There are people who say they don’t know what we have done,” he said, and then slander them in a rather extravagant way: “Certainly they do not know how to differentiate between colum [una unidad de carga eléctrica] of paramecium [un microbio]Among other measures, Duque mentioned the reform of contracts for young researchers and also the new research career model that the department is now about to launch.
Duque ventured that the science budget for 2022 would be “higher” than it is today. He also highlighted his department’s work to promote in Parliament the State Science Charter, a document that seeks consensus of all political forces to ensure stable and predictable funding for research. Morant picked up the challenge, saying he would continue his predecessor’s path with the goal of “unifying the social and political consensus” on this agreement. “I hope you will succeed in installing this program that we have developed,” Duque told his successor, moments before handing over the portfolio.
According to sources in his environment, Duki was not expected to be expelled. Pedro Sanchez’s movement has surprised him, only now that he has been able to enjoy the rain of millions for science thanks to European funds to recover from the pandemic. In any case, this is not the first time his departure has been considered, as a candidate was presented in July 2020 to head the European Space Agency, a competitive position that Austrian Josef Schbacher eventually won.