About Us

Research and Advancement Corporation for Atacama’s Paleontology and Natural History

CIAHN Atacama’s Chore

The Corporation is intended to produce and support world class scientific research, boosting knowledge, conservation and value of the region’s paleontological patrimony and fossil deposits. We hope to nourish the national imaginary construct by strengthening Atacama’s culture, identity, trademark and image and, consequently, to help the economic growth and the diversification of the productive matrix and to positively influence the comprehensive development of Atacama and Chile.

Our History

The region of Atacama holds a huge paleontological wealth, including the prominent deposits of the Bahía Inglesa Formation which contain an unusual abundance of fossil remains of marine vertebrates of about 8 million years. Despite fossils are considered state-owned National Monuments in Chile, this patrimony had been destroyed for decades by illegal mining works in the areas known as Los Dedos and La Fosforita, causing the loss of thousands of tons of fossils, which were ground to produce fertilizers. After taking many actions, including legal proceedings taken by the State Defense Council, it was possible to stop the destruction and to regularize that mining activity.

The Research and Advancement Corporation for Atacama’s Paleontology and Natural History (CIAHN Atacama) has been created to serve the interest and the need of the region to protect and value its paleontological, natural and cultural patrimony. Its creation was submitted to the regional advisors by the Atacama’s Intendent Mr. Francisco Sánchez on December 28th 2018 and unanimously approved on January 3rd 2019; the filing was entrusted to Mr. Pablo Quilodrán and the legal personality was enforced on February 14th 2020.

The first session of CIAHN Atacama’s Board of directors took place on March 24th 2020 to determine their core actions: to set up and begin the running of the Research Center on Paleontology and Natural History for Atacama, to work on the enhancement of the current Paleontological Park Los Dedos, to open a dossier of the Atacama Geopark project to be submitted to UNESCO and to work on the design of a future museum under international standards, which will be the successor of the current Paleontological Museum of Caldera.

CIAHN Atacama’s Board of Directors

Mr. Miguel Vargas C.


Mrs. Brunilda González A.

1° Vice-president

Mr. Celsio Arias M.


mrs. María Cecilia Hidalgo T.


mrs. Yoris Rojas V.


mr. Mario Hamuy W.


mr. Álvaro Fischer A.


mr. Sebastián Seisdedos M.


mr. Daniel Llorente V.


MR. Miguel Vargas Correa

He was born in Chañaral, region of Atacama. He’s a History and Geography teacher with a strong educational and public service background. He holds a Master in Government and Public Management from University of Chile and a post-graduate diploma on Educational Administration from University of Concepción, among other certificates.

In the public sector, he served as director of the National Consumer Service in two non-consecutive periods, as regional secretary of economy from 2000 to 2002, and government regional secretary from 2002 to 2005. In his latest period as intendent (2014-2018) he carried out significant projects for Atacama, including remarkable works such as the construction of four thousand social houses and the opening of the Medicine school at the University of Atacama.

On June 13th he won the first election by popular vote to be the Regional Governor of Atacama.

MRS. brunilda González AnjelSRA

Married and mother of three children, she is a professional midwife specialized in Health Services Management and Administration who served as the health regional secretary and is the current reelected mayor of Caldera.

In addition to the vice presidency of CIAHN Atacama, Mrs. González has a role in the following directories: secretary of the Municipal Association of Concessioned Ports; treasurer of the Association of Municipalities of Atacama (ARMA); member of Association of Rural Municipalities (AMUR); president of the Heritage Commission of the Chilean Municipal Association (ACHM).

Mr. Celsio Arias Mora

He is a Mining Civil Engineer from the University of Atacama (UDA) and holds a degree from the Technical University of Madrid. He is a professor at the University of Atacama since 1990 and has held relevant management positions such as the chairman of the Board of directors, dean of the Engineering School and rector for three consecutive periods until the year 2022.

Mr. Arias, PhD, is highly committed to provide University of Atacama’s students with the required capabilities to face the new challenges of the 21st century: leadership, innovation and teamwork, among other professional skills.

MRS. María Cecilia Hidalgo Tapia

Mrs. Hidalgo is a biochemist and the first woman holding a PhD in Sciences in 1969, both degrees at University of Chile. She holds a post-doctor degree from the National Institute of Health (NIH), 1969-1972, Bethesda, MD, United States. She was a research fellow and staff scientist at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute from 1974 to 1983 and an associate member at the Harvard Medical School between 1978 and 1986, Boston, MA, United States. She is a staff professor at the Medicine School at University of Chile since 1986; currently serving at the Neurosciences Department and at the Biomedical Sciences Institute (ICBM). She won a Guggenheim scholarship in 1993. She was the director of the CEMC (Center for Molecular Studies of the Cell) of the FONDAP (Fund for Advanced Research in Priority Areas) from 2002 to 2010. She won the Merit Medal Amanda Labarca in 2004. Mrs. Hidalgo was the first woman getting the National Award of Natural Sciences in the year 2006, as well as a fellow and the president of the Chilean Academy of Sciences between 2019 and 2021.


Mrs. Rojas is a teacher from the Normal School with a diploma on Educational Supervision, a degree on Education and on Educational Administration; she also holds a master’s degree on Education at the Normal School of Teachers Rómulo J. Peña Maturana, located in Copiapó. She is married and has got two children.

She was the Deputy director and Technical Manager of the Department of Education of the Municipality of Copiapó between 1991 and 2010, Regional Councilor for three periods, President of the Education Commission of the Regional Government of Atacama from 2001 to 2008, and the Ministerial Secretary of Education of the region of Atacama from 2010 to 2013. Also, Mrs. Rojas was the director of the Education Superintendence in the metropolitan region of Santiago from 2013 to 2014, director of Bellavista de la Florida high school from 2015 to 2017 and director of Education of the Municipality of Santiago between 2017 and 2020. She is currently working at the Corporation of Municipal Education of La Florida.

mr. Mario Hamuy Wackenhut

Mr. Hamuy, National Prize for Exact Sciences 2015, has been the Vice President and director of the AURA Observatory in Chile (AURA-O), the President of the Chilean Foundation of Astronomy (Fuchas), the Second Vice-President of the Chilean Academy of Science, as well as the President of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) and scientific advisor of the Ex-President Michelle Bachelet from 2016 to 2018.

mr. Álvaro Fischer Abeliuk

Graduated as a Mathematical Engineer from University of Chile, Mr. Fischer is married to Ximena Katz, ophthalmologist, and has got three children; he is an entrepreneur, director of companies and an essay writer. He is the founder and director of Resiter S.A., a group of environmental technological services and circular economy companies; the President of SMB Factoring; and the director of Le Grand Chic S.A.

Mr. Fischer has been the director of the drugstore chains Ahumada, Salcobrand and Cruz Blanca, and of Empresas Copec S.A.; as well as the President of the Chilean Institute of Engineers (Distinguished Actions Prize 2002 and Golden Medal 2020), of Fundación Chile and Rector of the Technological University of Chile (Inacap).

Currently, he is the President of the National Council for Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation; member of the Board of directors of the country brand agency Imagen de Chile; President of Ciencia y Evolución Foundation; and the representative of the President of the Republic of Chile before the University Council of the University of Chile.

Álvaro Fischer is also a member of the N.Y. Academy of Science and of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

He wrote “Evolución… el nuevo Paradigma” (published in 2001 by Editorial Universitaria), “La Mejor Idea Jamás Pensada” (2009, Ediciones B) and “De Naturaleza Liberal” (2018, Catalonia).

Mr. Sebastián Seisdedos Morales

Holding a Degree and a Master on Architecture from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Mr. Seisdedos has post graduate studies on land-use planning, sustainable development and heritage in Chile, Spain and Italy. He is the current head of the Heritage and Land Management Unit of the Ministry of National Assets, where he directs the Land Management Program and the Heritage Routs Program designed to add value to the patrimony and promote local development.

He has participated in the creation and implementation of land and heritage laws, guidelines and public politics; such as the National Policy on Land-use, Rural Development, Mountain Sustainable Development and Coastline Use; the new Law on Heritage; regulations about archeological and paleontological excavations and prospection, and about the purchase of historical monuments; and the National Monuments Act; among others. He has specialized on land use, planning and management, on restoration and value-adding of heritage, energy and sustainable development; and has provided advisories to public and private sector entities. He has been a professor and researcher for over 15 years at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Diego Portales University, Autonomous University of Chile and Catholic University of Temuco.

Mr. Daniel Llorente Viñales

Mr. Llorente is the Chief Executive of Llorente Industrial S.A, businessman since 1985 and corporate manager, President of Atacama’s Development Corporation CORPROA, and director and founding partner of the Buena Esperanza vineyard, Atacama. He has served as a Counselor and member of the executive board of SOFOFA from 2020 to May 2021 and Counselor of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism (CNC); external director of companies in the education, industrial, agricultural and accommodation sectors; and founder and Chief Executive of industrial companies related to steel manufacturing, structure assembling, hotels and agro-industry. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Research and Advancement Corporation for Atacama’s Paleontology and Natural History (CIAHN Atacama) and of University of Atacama, as a representative of the President of the Republic; and ambassador of the foundation Hay Mujeres.