Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer, Director of Communications and Science Outreach of the nonprofit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico, has been awarded the prestigious Emerson Collective Fellowship for her work using inclusive communication strategies to bring relevant and important information about COVID- 19 to Spanish-speaking communities. Dr. Feliú-Mójer is one of only 10 people throughout the United States and Puerto Rico recognized with this honor. Fellows receive one year of financial support for their projects and the grant connects them with media outlets to help their work achieve greater exposure and impact.
Originally from Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, Dr. Feliú-Mójer trained as a biologist at the University of Puerto Rico in Bayamón and she received a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She became a renowned scientist communicator through her work with Ciencia Puerto Rico, specializing in the use of storytelling and cultural relevance to make scientific information more engaging and accessible to historically marginalized communities. She also serves as Director of Diversity and Communication Training for iBiology, a nonprofit producing free online videos to convey the excitement of modern biology and the process by which scientific discoveries are made.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Feliú-Mójer has led Ciencia Puerto Rico’s efforts to address the severe shortage of accurate and culturally relevant information about COVID-19 for Spanish speakers, coordinating Puerto Rican scientists and public-health experts to publish op-eds, science articles, and radio, TV, podcast, and press interviews.
Along with the other Emerson Collective Fellows, Dr. Feliú-Mójer is part of a “Recovery and Renewal Cohort,” which brings together bold new projects that reimagine the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and explore the path to a fair recovery.
As a fellow, Dr. Feliú-Mójer will develop a free collection of multimedia resources with information that Puerto Ricans can use to keep themselves and their families healthy during the pandemic. Dr. Feliú-Mójer will work in collaboration with community organizations, journalists, and scientists, to ensure that the content of the collection is culturally relevant, scientifically sound, and focused on the needs and interests of diverse audiences in Puerto Rico. Ultimately, the project will serve as a model to engage other underserved communities, especially Spanish-speaking ones, with science.
“I am honored that the Emerson Collective has recognized the value of my work with CienciaPR. I am excited that my project will allow me to create meaningful partnerships with marginalized communities in Puerto Rico. I am from a rural working-class neighborhood and I know first-hand the power of community-based efforts. I also know that often science education and communication efforts do not reach these communities or do not represent their reality. Over the next year I will be listening and learning from community groups and leaders and creating content to put science at their service and in their hands,” said Dr. Feliú-Mójer.
“Monica is passionate about building bridges between scientists and the public as a way to advance social justice and address inequities in access to valuable scientific information that can strengthen our communities,” said Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, Executive Director of Ciencia Puerto Rico. “There are very few people who are doing similar things in the U.S. or across the world. The projects that she is leading with CienciaPR are unique and impactful and can be a model for other communities. This is a richly deserved honor.”
Application for the Emerson Collective Fellowship is invitation-only, based on nominations by past participants and other leaders. Fellows are selected based on an established track record of excellence and originality; a deep engagement in education, immigration, social justice, the environment, and health; and the potential to pursue vital new work with the support of a fellowship. Dr. Feliú-Mójer is the first person from Puerto Rico to receive this honor.
On behalf of the CienciaPR team, we congratulate our colleague, Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer, on this well-deserved recognition!