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A world-leading centre in human evolution unveils new facilities in Tarragona

The Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) is one of the 3 centres with the highest scientific production internationally in its field. It is directed by Eudald Carbonell, the palaeontologist who has been directing the Atapuerca site since its discovery. Atapuerca was where the oldest human specimens in Europe were found, the so-called Homo Antecessor. The IPHES started its activities in 2006 but due to its increasing relevance it needed more room. Since last June the institute has moved to a new building in the Sescelades Campus of the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in southern Catalonia. On Friday the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, officially unveiled the facilities. The new building cost €6 million and it has 3,000 square metres to host 62 members of staff.

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06 April 2013 01:27 AM

by

ACN / Roger Segura / Marc C. Griso

Barcelona (ACN).- On Friday the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, officially unveiled the new facilities of the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), which is one of the three centres with the highest scientific production internationally in its field. The IPHES director is Eudald Carbonell, the palaeontologist who has been managing the Atapuerca site since it was discovered. Atapuerca (in the centre of Spain, near Burgos) was where the oldest human species in Europe was found: the so-called Homo Antecessor, discovered by Carbonell. The IPHES started its activities in 2006 but due to its increasing international relevance it needed more room. Since last June the institute has moved to a new building in the Sescelades Campus of the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in southern Catalonia. The new building cost \u20AC6 million and it has 3,000 square metres to host 62 members of staff, including researchers and administration staff. Previously, they were working in a building in the centre of Tarragona owned by the City Council.


The new IPHES hosts the team of 62 people directed by Eudald Carbonell, who has been leading the institute since its creation in 2006. The new building is now owned by the IPHES. It has 3,000 square metres divided into three storeys, with labs, offices, classrooms and warehouses to properly store the fossil collections. The centre had a total running budget of \u20AC3 million for 2012 and has never had its own place before. In the official unveiling ceremony, chaired by the Catalan President, Carbonell emphasised that the centre \u201Cis a structure that is aiming to contribute, with the objective of working for knowledge and for building scientific and critical thinking; devoted to strengthening the evolutionist vision and critical thinking, and bringing it to society in order to influence decision-making\u201D, he stated.

\u201CWhat seemed a utopia [\u2026] has turned into a wonderful reality\u201D stated the Catalan President

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, celebrated that with this scientific infrastructure, \u201Cwhich seemed to be a utopia\u201D, has turned \u201Cinto a wonderful reality\u201D. Furthermore, Mas emphasised that this milestone achieved with the IPHES \u201Ccould also be applied to a country\u201D, referring to Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process. The Catalan President insisted that \u201Coften people tend to think that utopias, fantasies and dreams do not exist, but one never knows; it is never certain that it has to be this way and everything depends on a series of factors\u201D, he said, drawing a parallel with the dreams of a wide part of society regarding Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain and provoking the applause of a significant part of the audience.

Mas carried on by emphasising that Catalonia has also the duty to wonder how it can contribute to improving the world. According to him, this perspective is quite often lost in light \u201Cof the huge problems we have, which stress us and make us lose perspective of what is essential and important\u201D. However, Mas insisted that despite Catalonia\u2019s small demographic and geographic size, the country is able to make \u201Ctop contributions\u201D at world level, \u201Cwhich has been proved in many very different areas\u201D, he underlined. Therefore, \u201Cwhy could we not do it in the fields of science and research\u201D, he wondered. In this vein, the Catalan President considered that the country already has a critical mass to contribute in the scientific fields \u201Cto improve the world and humankind\u201D. This is what, in the end, counts, according to him, especially in such difficult times, \u201Cfull of uncertainties\u201D.

The URV\u2019s President, Francesc Xavier Grau, emphasised that the new building represents an increase of the IPHES\u2019 activity and consolidates the centre as a true world flagship. Grau insisted that the URV is committed to developing a knowledge cluster in its facilities. He also states that, in difficult times such as the current ones, it is particularly necessary to turn towards universities and research, which can build new knowledge and work towards recovery.

Finally, the Mayor of Tarragona, Josep Fèlix Ballesteros, celebrated the opening of the IPHES\u2019 new facilities, together with the expansion of the Sescelades campus and the construction of a new student hall. This means, according to him, that \u201Cdespite everything, we are continuing to grow and that we prioritise a quality public university\u201D. He added that society needs to understand that it has to allocate resources to research and knowledge, and that \u201Cthis is not money given away\u201D, but \u201Ca step forward\u201D, he concluded.

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  • The new IPHES building at the URV's Sescelades Campus (by M. C. Griso)

  • Eudald Carbonell showing a fossil to Artur Mas (by R. Segura)

  • The new IPHES building at the URV's Sescelades Campus (by M. C. Griso)
  • Eudald Carbonell showing a fossil to Artur Mas (by R. Segura)