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Vale Enrique Forero González

The International Science Council is profoundly saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of our friend and colleague, Enrique Forero González. Enrique, a past president of the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, acted as the ISC’s Director for the Regional Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The International Science Council acknowledges with respect the passing of Dr. Enrique Forero González. Dr. Forero was known for his sense of humor and wealth of anecdotes. As a key figure in the International Science Council, particularly in his role as the leader of the Regional Focal Point for Latin America, his absence is notably felt. He also served as President of the Colombian Academy for Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences. In the last year of his life, Dr. Forero enjoyed extensive travel, a period noted by friends and colleagues as particularly fulfilling for him.

Born on 7 December 1942, in Bogota, Colombia, Forero’s early interest in botany shaped his academic path. He graduated with a degree in Botany from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 1965, achieving top honors. A fellowship from the New York Botanical Garden led to his doctorate in 1972. His research focused on vascular plant systems, but his academic interests were broad, ranging from tropical flowers to enhancing biological sciences research capacity.

Forero’s career included a tenure as a professor at the Institute of Natural Sciences at the National University of Colombia, where he became Director in 1996. He also served as Director of Research at the Missouri Botanical Garden and was the first Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden from 1992 to 1995. His tenure as Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at Universidad Nacional de Colombia spanned from 1996 to 2000. His contributions included founding the Colombian Herbaria Association and the Latin American Botanical Association, and he was a founding member of the Scientific Committee of the Latin American Botanical Network.

Forero’s legacy extends beyond his scientific achievements. His commitment to advancing science, both in Colombia and internationally, and his mentorship of emerging scientists, including women, are notable. He guided 18 undergraduate theses, mentored 9 master’s students, and supervised 2 doctoral candidates. He served as an international consultant for the National Center for Genetic Resources and was the director of the Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden. His teaching engagements spanned various countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, and the United States.

Forero’s work with the ISC

Since 2015, Dr Forero visited the focal points of the Latin American and Caribbean countries of ICSU, the ISC predecessor, actively participating in the discussions that helped to set up the ICSU regional office headquarters in El Salvador, and contributing to the revitalization the Caribbean Scientific Commission.

During 2018, the meeting for the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Council for Science took place in the city of Cartagena, led by Dr. Forero. In particular, Dr. Forefor was instrumental in making the case to the Latin American and Caribbean scientific community for the merger of ICSU and the International Social Sciences Council (ISSC) to become the International Science Council (ISC).Dr Enrique Forero then participated in the 2018 inaugural General Assembly for the creation of the International Science Council, in Paris, France.

In Dr. Forero’s final years, he was Chair of the Regional Focal Point for the Latin American and Caribbean Region and an inaugural member of the ISC Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science. He was committed to the International Science Council and its vision to advance science as a global public good.

Dr. Forero’s contributions to science and his dedication to mentorship and research capacity development leave a lasting impact. His commitment to science as a global public good, and his efforts in conservation, environmental awareness, and the preservation of botanical gardens, continue to inspire. The International Science Council, while recognizing this significant loss, remains committed to fostering future generations in the spirit of Dr. Forero’s work.

In these words, we honour his dedication and enduring influence in the scientific community.

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