Ignacio Barros,
BMS Alumnus,
PhD completed in June 2018, 
Qualifying Exam BMS, MSc Freie Universität Berlin,
BSc Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

During my Bachelor in Santiago, I decided to live abroad in a big city and the smartest way for me to do that was through studies. I wasn’t sure at that time if I wanted to pursue an academic career, that became clear later. Having just a thin idea and intuition about the city, I decided to apply to the BMS because it was in Berlin. There was some sort of internal voice insistently humming the soundtrack of Berlin Calling. When I came for the BMS Days I realized how highly competitive the BMS is. Since the beginning one has an enormous amount of courses to choose from, seminars, conferences, and a vast mathematical fountain to drink from. Berlin has a very rich and active mathematical scene. After the BMS Days I received an email offering me a Phase I scholarship and I couldn’t contain my joy.

During Phase I (master studies) I decided to try algebra. I was always a big fan of geometry in all its flavors and the idea of studying geometric objects with fancy tools and deep algebraic structures sounded appealing. That was the beginning of a long bus ride to Algebraic Geometry. The AG community in Berlin is exceptionally good. My mentor, who later became my PhD advisor, guided me to make decisions that turned out perfect. Even though I spent most of my Phase I time in FU, I also took classes at TU and my master’s thesis advisor was from HU. This exemplifies one of the major assets of BMS, namely the joint collaboration between the three major universities in Berlin.

I did my classes, wrote my master thesis, had an advisor, prepared and successfully gave my QE. Everything went smoothly and without complications. I got the BMS Phase II scholarship. Three months later a new Einstein professor came to HU with a grant that included the financial support for a student and a postdoc. For me it was an incredible opportunity, I could have two advisors, one in Berlin and one in Zürich. It was my advisors idea and they changed the source of my scholarship from BMS to Einstein Foundation. I was still part of BMS as a Phase II student and they continued supporting me with everything needed.

After several years in Berlin and as a BMS student, I cannot express with words the enormous gratitude that I have for the city, the people that I met and the BMS that made everything possible. I made wonderful math and non-math friends, learned the bitter and sweet vagaries of math research, traveled to conferences and schools. I even met my wife and started a family in Berlin.

Published in July 2018