José Núñez Sánchez, in the classroom with his peers. / ÑITO SALAS

The Costa's own young Einstein

World Science Scholar. José Núñez, 16, from Malaga, is one of the 48 selected worldwide by this American foundation, for its scientific talent recruitment programme


José Núñez Sánchez, 16, has excelled from a very young age in mathematics, a discipline that has brought him many successes.

Currently in his first year of the Baccalaureate at the Maristas school, he has won several Olympiads in the field, and has most recently been selected for a global programme attracting mathematical prodigies.

The World Science Scholars (WSS) programme is an initiative by the World Science Festival, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

The foundation was created in 1987 by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, which allocates around 70 million dollars each year for scholarship and research programmes.

Only two young Spaniards have managed to enter this training programme (the second is a girl from Aragon), out of a total of 48 students from 16 countries worldwide.

The two-year programme will give them the opportunity to apply their skills to unexplored disciplines. Led by world-renowned experts (including Nobel laureates), they will examine the ways in which advanced mathematical skills can be applied to solve complex challenges in a wide range of multidisciplinary fields.

The ultimate goal of the programme, now in its fourth year, is to create an educational community of highly talented people who help to improve society.

José's interest in mathematics stems from his family. His father, Francisco Núñez, worked for Dekra until his retirement, and his mother, Eva Sánchez, is a maths teacher at the Jarifa de Cártama institute.

His sister, María, who also studies at Maristas, has also participated in the national round of the Mathematical Olympiad.

José emphasised that his interest in science and particularly mathematics comes from his mother. His parents encourage him to participate in contests such as the mathematical Olympiads and have also been supporting him so that he could participate in the Estelmat project.

This project cultivates mathematical talent: 42 sessions were held in Granada for this programme, with his family taking him to the Faculty of Sciences in the city every Saturday.

José is very excited for the challenge that the World Science Scholars programme poses and to participate in this elite training project.

In June, the participants are scheduled to travel to New York to participate in the Science Festival organised by this same foundation.

It has been a "tedious" application process, he said, since he had to present the judges with evidence of his mathematical ability.

He thanks those who have made his selection possible: Rafael Ramírez, professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Granada, Enrique Viguera, professor of Genetics at the University of Malaga and María José Muñoz González, who is in charge of the curriculum enrichment programme at the Maristas school in Malaga.

As a highly skilled student, José Núñez participates in this specific syllabus enhancement scheme.

"Teachers allow me to delve into the topics and go beyond the basic content of the subjects, which allows me to be more active in class" he explained.

José is an excellent classmate, and does not hesitate to help the rest of the class if difficulties arise.

Students of a high ability often suffer discrimination or problems in class. This is not the case with José, who claims to have "great friends".

"I have never felt different from them; I treat them as equals and they do the same."

He also branches out beyond his studies; José studies guitar at the Manuel Carra conservatory, plays badminton and likes reading fantasy and mystery books.

In the future, José is certain that he wants to dedicate himself to scientific research. Although he still has one year to decide what to study at university, he is clear that Mathematics will be his choice, either alone or with Physics.