Prof. Dr. Ignacio Mantilla
Rector of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia
DAAD Doctoral Scholarship 1986-1991
Ignacio Mantilla is a man of precision. That’s why he loves mathematics – and the German language: “The German language is versatile and rich. It enables you to verbally describe mathematical problems with great precision,” says Ignacio Mantilla, one of whose main areas of research is applied mathematics.
For the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, cooperation with Germany is and remains the most fertile source of intercultural exchange and education.
He is also precise and cosmopolitan in the way he runs his office. On 29 March 2012 the mathematician (55) was appointed Rector of Colombia’s most eminent university, where he had previously been responsible for the university’s science faculty as its Dean. Ignacio Mantilla’s career in science also began at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. It was here that he was awarded a master’s degree in mathematics. He subsequently completed his PhD with a DAAD scholarship in Mainz. “That scholarship was crucial for my academic career,” the scientist emphasises. “At that time it wasn’t possible to do a PhD in my field in Colombia.”
He says the time he spent in Germany had quite an influence on him, both as a scientist and as a person: “I still take my orientation from German publications, both in research and teaching,” Ignacio Mantilla says. “I also have a high regard for German culture. I made many friends during my time in Germany and we still keep in contact.” His relations with professors at German and French universities are not only personal; a lively cooperation has developed – right up to the level of including student exchanges.
Ignacio Mantilla continues to promote cultural exchange in his capacity as Rector and has German universities in particular in view: “There are many professors working in a wide range of disciplines at the Universidad Nacional who completed part of their training in Germany,” he says. “Spending a period in Germany is still desirable, especially for our PhD students.” But German students, lecturers and visiting scientists are also being invited to conduct research at the Universidad Nacional. The DAAD’s role in this is key, he says: “The DAAD’s support has always been consistent and efficient,” says Ignacio Mantilla. “Furthermore, the close links its lecturers and local representatives maintain with the Universidad Nacional have aroused many people’s interest in the German language and culture.” In February 2015 Ignacio Mantilla was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of his services in promoting academic and scientific exchange between Germany and Colombia.