Networking Friday with SENACYT


  • DATE
    June 23th, 2023, 1-2 PM UTC
  • AIR Centre Networking Fridays
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  • The Networking Fridays were endorsed as a Ocean Decade Activity
    This is an Ocean Decade event
  • This session will be held in Spanish
    Remote simultaneous interpretation to English will be available on Zoom

On June 23, 2023, 1:00 – 2:00 PM UTC, we will have a very special programme to commemorate Guatemala’s membership to the AIR Centre. The National Secretary of Science and Technology, Ana Chan Orantes, will introduce us to the latest policies and achievements in science, technology and innovation in Guatemala, including the Heroines in Science Programme, which will be showcased by Karla Evelyn Paz Cardón and Carmen Lucia Barrios Guzmán.

The general and specific objectives of the National Strategic Plan for the Development of Science and Technology 2018-2025 (PLANDECYT) are the same as those of the National Policy for Scientific and Technological Development, but the Plan specifies, through the definition of results, result indicators, baseline, goals, actions, deadlines execution, coverage and institutional managers. All this is summarized in the planning matrices that were built, one for each axis of the Policy. The main objective of this plan aspires to build a Knowledge Society that allows us a nation with a productive, sustainable and competitive capacity, both nationally, regionally and internationally, through the development of science and technology that, from all strata, sectors and disciplines, allow the transition to better living conditions for citizens, in a sustainable manner.

The territorial extension of Guatemala is 108,889 km², however, the extension of the territory of the territorial sea is rarely taken into account, which includes 12 miles from the coast, the contiguous zone with another 12 miles and the exclusive economic zone, with 200 miles. . This confirms the importance of the sea for the development of Guatemala. In May 2018, the National Marine-Coastal Research Strategy for Guatemala was prepared, deriving that coastal marine areas are of strategic interest to the State, as an important natural component due to the goods and services provided for the development of socioeconomic activities by the Senacyt, in compliance with the National Policy for Scientific Development 2015-2032, the Policy for the Comprehensive Management of Marine-Coastal Zones, the Katún National Development Plan: Our Guatemala 2032 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, initiated a participatory process with strategic partners to formulate and finalize said strategy.

The strategy has several areas of action, articulated with the SDG 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. These areas of action are the following:

  • Biodiversity and conservation (biotrade, ecosystems, biodiversity, and fisheries).
  • Climate change (adaptation, mitigation, monitoring and evaluation)
  • Land use planning (comprehensive risk management, infrastructure).

This Networking Friday will be a unique opportunity to explore several ways of collaboration with Guatemala on these areas:

  • Technology transfer
  • Science diplomacy
  • Investment in research & development
  • Mentoring of researchers and capacity development
  • Coordination mechanisms to work on strategies to face the global challenges of innovation and competitiveness
  • Diagnosis of local research capacities, skills and competences
  • Exchange of experiences and research mobility


  • 1:00-1:05 – Opening remarks, José Moutinho, Chief Business & Networking Officer at the AIR Centre
  • 1:05-1:15 – Welcome address and introduction to the Heroines in Science Programme, Ana Chan Orantes, National Secretary of Science and Technology of Guatemala
  • 1:15-1:35 – Progress in the monitoring of the marine stressor Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in the Pacific of Guatemala, Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón, University of San Carlos of Guatemala.
  • 1:35-1:55 – Unlocking Insights into Marine Ecosystems, Carmen Barrios Guzmán, University of Valparaiso.
  • 1:55 – 2:00 – Q&A moderated by Jose Luiz Moutinho
  • 2:00 – Closing.

This is an Ocean Decade Event.

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Headshot Ana Chan Orantes

Ana Chan Orantes

Welcome address from Senacyt and introduction to the “Heroines in Science” program

Ana Chan Orantes is the National Secretary of Science and Technology of Guatemala. During her tenure at the National Secretariat of Science and Technology of Guatemala (Senacyt), she has promoted strategic actions to bring science closer to society, such as the National Alliance for the Development of Science, Technology and innovation (CTi) as the dissemination project of the CTi with a territorial approach and the strategy for the inclusion of women and indigenous peoples in the CTi. Ana Chan Orantes promoted the creation of spaces to make visible the work of women scientists from Guatemala and to encourage more women and girls to venture into scientific areas. She promoted the processes of modernisation and institutional strengthening to improve the efficiency and transparency in the management of Senacyt and in the access to the funds under its responsibility. Ana Chan Orantes strengthened the dialogue with the different actors that make up the National System of Science and Technology (SINCYT). She represented Guatemala in high-level international forums such as: CELAC, CTCAP (which is a Copernicis Node), IAI, CYTED, COMCYT, OEA, among others. Ana Chan Orantes has a Master Degree in International Law, and she isa Lawyer, a Notary, and a certified arbitrator. She was the recipient of a Mashav Scholarship from the Israelian Government (shot bio in Spanish here).

Headshot Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón

Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón

Progress in the monitoring of the marine stressor Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in the Pacific of Guatemala

In Guatemala, plankton studies have been related to events of food poisoning due to the consumption of bivalves. The historical events reported begin in August 1987 on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, where 193 cases of human poisoning due to shellfish consumption were reported, of which 22 were fatal. The organism causing the poisoning was identified as Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum, a species of microalgae that produces a paralysing toxin. This microalgae was reported again in an algal bloom in November 2019 on the Pacific coast of Guatemala and in the epidemiological alert between April 29 and May 20, 2022, when 34 cases of human intoxication were reported, of which 4 were fatal.

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) is a marine stressor characterised by the increase in biomass of toxin-producing microalgae that has negative effects on ecosystems, human health, fishing, and tourism. In Guatemala, there is constant effort for monitoring microalgae in the central Pacific and providing basic information on the identification of the species. One of the objectives is to identify the species not yet addressed and propose improvements in monitoring and research activities that can not only increase our knowledge about the complexity of the HAB on Guatemala’s coasts, but also help integrating new institutions in this effort.

Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón is a teacher with more than 20 years of experience at the Center for Studies of the Sea and Aquaculture of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, where She teaches courses on aquatic zoology, biology, aquatic ecology and aquatic botany. She is a member of the Hydrobiological Research Institute of CEMA, where she is coordinator of the Plankton program, researching in topics related to marine ecology and identification and quantification of plankton. She also participates as Marine Stressor Coordinator: Harmful Algal Blooms and Marine Toxins in the Research Network of Marine-Coastal Stressors in Latin America and the Caribbean (REMARCO); Representative of Guatemala before the IOCARIBE of IOC UNESCO; and Representative of Guatemala before the project: Carmina: Diversity and toxicity of microalgae associated with ciguatera in the Caribbean area, with NOOA and IFREMER. Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón is a writer of educational material on aquatic science topics and she is very interested in scientific dissemination for which she participated in the USAID Inspiring Women program on the topic “Women who jump into the water”. She is currently in his last year in the Doctoral Program in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Karla Evelyn Paz Cordón has received several awards during her academic career, including on from the Institute University for Women (IUMUSAC) for being the first woman graduated with a degree in Aquaculture.

Headshot Carmen Guzman

Carmen Barrios Guzmán

Unlocking Insights into Marine Ecosystems

To gain a comprehensive understanding of marine ecosystems and the interactions between individual consumers and these systems, it is crucial to consider the complex interplay of physicochemical and biological factors across diverse spatial and temporal scales. However, assessing these factors on a large scale is often logistically complex, expensive, and time-consuming. Therefore, an alternative approach is to employ proxy measures, such as stable isotope values in biological materials, to assess the spatial and temporal variations of these factors along coastlines and ocean basins. By analysing stable isotopes, it becomes possible to determine the relative contributions of different prey items to a consumers diet, identify the habitats utilised by these consumers, track the significance of primary energy sources that sustain food webs, and even uncover animal migration routes. The isotopic composition of marine animal tissues varies, reflecting geographic differences in diet and water chemistry. When these spatial variations are known or predictable, tissue isotopic compositions can infer an animal’s origin, assess feeding areas, detect dietary changes, and analyse migratory patterns. This approach provides valuable insights into the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems and their capacity to respond to environmental changes.

Carmen Barrios Guzmán is a researcher at the Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation of Marine Mammals (LECMMAR) at the University of Valparaiso, Chile. She has a Ph.D. in Science specialising in Aquatic Natural Resources from the University of Valparaiso and a MSc. in Aquaculture and Fisheries (UAlg). Carmen Barrios Guzmán has conducted studies in environmental education and sustainable tourism, ecology and behaviour of sea lions, assessment of marine pollution using marine mammals as sentinels, and interaction of marine mammals with anthropogenic activities.


José Moutinho

José Moutinho is a Biologist, with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1981; Architect, graduated from Santa Ursula University in Rio de Janeiro, in 1988, with equivalence conferred by the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Lisbon in 1989; Master of Science in Engineering and Technology Management from the Institute of Innovation, Technology and Development Policie (IN+) of Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) in 2005. Currently he is the Chief Business & Network Officer for the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre). Jose Moutinho is Coordinator of the BlueMissionAA CSA, Co-leader of the All-Atlantic Marine Research Infrastructure Network (AA-MARINET); Co-chair of the Steering Committee of the GEO Blue Planet Initiative; Member of the Atlantic Strategy 2.0 Task Force Pillar IV: Healthy ocean and resilient coasts; and Associate member of the International Ocean Colour Coordinating Group (IOCCG) Task Force on Remote Sensing of Marine Litter and Debris.

We will continue with the Networking Fridays during the next months. More information about future sessions as well as presentations and videos from previous sessions can be found here. Twitter Hashtag: #netfridays. Expect some very exciting afternoons, or mornings or evenings, depending on where you are…

If you need any additional information please send an email to Jose Luiz Moutinho.

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