During the XXV National Congress of Geography's opening on 24 October 2023, Irasema Alcántara Ayala, a member of the MRI Scientific Leadership Council (SLC), was honoured with the "Benito Juárez" Medal by the Academy of Geography of the Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics (MSGS). This recognition celebrates her outstanding contributions to geographical science.

The MSGS, tracing its roots back to 1833, played a pivotal role in institutionalizing geography in Mexico. Prof. Alcántara Ayala’s career, marked by research expertise in geomorphology, mass movement processes, geography of risk, integrated disaster risk research, integrated disaster risk management and disaster forensic investigation, showcases her commitment to bridging the gap between science and policy.

In addition to fostering collaboration between science and policy, Prof. Alcántara Ayala has played a pivotal role in forming research groups in Mexico, Latin America, and internationally. She has also served as a member of various influential commissions, promoting strong scientific practices that emphasize collaboration across disciplines and institutions.

Prof. Alcántara-Ayala has held key positions in Geomorphology, including President of the Mexican Society of Geomorphology and Vice President of the International Geographical Union, International Landslide Consortium, and International Association of Geomorphologists. She also served on the Scientific Committee for the Program for Integrated Research on Disaster Risk by the International Science Council. Past leadership roles include President of the Academic Council of the Pan-American Centre for Geographical Studies and Research. Currently, she is a member of esteemed organizations such as the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World, among others.

“Geography is the most beautiful way to understand the planet entirely. In an era of unprecedented socio-environmental changes, the fascinating world of geographical knowledge possesses a leading role as a compass to support transdisciplinary approaches to strengthen policy formulation and practice. For example, an understanding that goes beyond a single discipline but requires integration of knowledge is needed to address the complex duality of disaster risk and sustainable development in mountains and other environments. On that account, the nurtured perspective of geography provides significant and elementary principles to understand and address the multidimensions of the humanized landscape within the sphere of the prevailing socio-territorial challenges. In parallel, geography and geographers can lead the articulation of the knowledge produced by social and natural sciences and the expertise of diverse scientists to guide societal problem-solving at different scales.” - Irasema Alcántara Ayala

The "Benito Juárez" Medal not only recognizes Prof. Alcántara-Ayala’s accomplishments but also underscores the crucial role of geographical science and international collaboration in advancing knowledge and solutions on a global scale. We are pleased to have Irasema Alcántara Ayala as a distinguished member of our own Scientific Leadership Council, contributing invaluable expertise and leadership to the MRI.

Cover image by UNAM


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