Ciencia Boricua Profiles

Every month we profile the work of an outstanding CienciaPR member or discuss a topic of relevance to our community

Nelson Colón Vargas: First Boricua to Become Presidential Innovation Fellow

Reinaldo Franqui Machin's picture
El Dr. Nelson Colón Vargas

For many, studying mathematics is synonymous with difficulties and frustration. However, numbers has opened many doors for for Dr. Nelson Colón Vargas. The most recent were the doors of the federal government. In February 2019, Dr. Colón Vargas became the first Puerto Rican to receive the "Presidential Innovation Fellowship" of the White House of the United States.

Born and raised in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, it is safe to say that Nelson is passionate about numbers. He has a baccalaureate, two masters' and a Ph.D. in mathematics. His interest in this field began in elementary school. He had excellent teachers growing up. For him, his passion for mathematics is matched only by his curiosity to understand the world.

José Hernández Ayala: A Research Leader in Geographic Climatology

Wilson Javier Gonzalez-Espada's picture
Dr. Hernández Ayala is a professor of geographic climatology at Sonoma State University

Climatology, the study of weather changes over time, is a prominent scientific field often cited in the media. Sonoma State University, in California, is one of several institutions that has a Climate Research Center (CRC-Sonoma), in which scientists from different disciplines collaborate to better understand the relationships between short-term atmospheric phenomena, the climate, physical geography and human geography. Notably, CRC-Sonoma is directed by a young Arecibeño scientist!

Dr. Mayda Velasco: Bringing the Universe Home

Sophia Araceli Sánchez-Maes's picture
Dr. Mayda Velasco, Puerto Rican physicist at Northwestern University
Puerto Rican physicist Dr. Mayda Velasco (Copyright: Ramon "Tonito" Zayas for El Nuevo Día)

Dr. Mayda Velasco is a world-renowned physicist who thinks big—from understanding the universe’s smallest components to building scientific capacity in Puerto Rico and Latin America.

In a building overlooking the ocean in Old San Juan, an eclectic group of people—young and old, women and men, citizens of many countries—are working to understand the structure and evolution of the universe. They have come together at Colegio de Física Fundamental e Interdisciplinaria de las Américas (College of Fundamental and Interdisciplinary Physics of the Americas).

Hericka Cruz Luciano: Representing Puerto Rico in a Scientific Fair

Wilson Javier Gonzalez-Espada's picture

"I got frustrated. I got excited. It made me think. It made me cry."

Whoever hears the student Hericka Loraine Cruz Luciano, would believe that she is describing her favorite movie, a play, or a famous novel, where emotions flow from the deepest sadness to the most euphoric joy with the speed of a thought.

She was, in fact, referring to her experience as a scientific researcher. The student is in the 12th grade at the Josefa Vélez Bauzá High School in the town of Peñuelas, where she has developed a multi-year project that has led her to conquer scientific skills in Puerto Rico and abroad.

Scientists, educators and students collaborating to rebuild and transform science education in Puerto Rico

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, aggravating a decade-long fiscal crisis that had already weakened Puerto Rico’s educational, social, and economic infrastructure.

For the past year-and-a-half, Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) has been hard at work on a new strategic direction to focus on an area of ​​great need and of vital importance for the future of Puerto Rico: transforming science education to promote a culture of science, critical thinking and problem-solving.

Hurricane Maria - CienciaPR Keeps You Informed

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina's picture

At CienciaPR part of our mission is to serve as a source of information, support, and connection for the sciences and Puerto Rico. At this moment in which Puerto Rico most needs us, we will be gathering from this page information relevant to our community after the passage of Hurricane Maria. We hope it helps rebuild Puerto Rico with science and education leading our way. We thank our community, partners, staff and volunteers for all of their help and support so far. Any resource or idea you would like to share relevant to these initiatives, please write to us!

Lorna Cintrón González: A Pioneer in Engineering Education

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture
Dr. Lorna Cintrón González
Dr. Lorna Cintrón González

By Monica I. Feliú-Mójer, Ph.D.

"My biggest satisfaction has been to graduate the program’s inaugural class of students."

This is how Dr. Lorna Cintrón- González describes the first great milestone of an adventure that began four years ago. In August of 2013, she joined the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Francis Marion University (FMU), as assistant professor and coordinator of the first baccalaureate program in industrial engineering in the history of this academic institution in South Carolina. 

Dr. Manuel Díaz-Ríos: Promoting neuroscience in the laboratory and the community

Marla S. Rivera-Oliver's picture
El Dr. Manuel Díaz-Ríos y su equipo de investigación
Dr. Manuel Díaz-Ríos and his research group

In the laboratory of Dr. Manuel Díaz-Ríos at the University of Puerto Rico’s Institute of Neurobiology, the students and personnel not only study how the motor nervous system functions and how it is affected with trauma or degenerative diseases, but they also learn the value of volunteer work and have the opportunity to teach kids and the community about science. Manolo (as he is known by his friends) firmly believes how important it is for scientists to contribute beyond the walls of the lab through education and mentoring. 

Dr. Eduardo Nicolau: creating solutions with nanoparticle chemistry

Lorraine Doralys Rodriguez-Rivera's picture
Dr. Eduardo Nicolau
Dr. Eduardo Nicolau

The International Space Station (ISS) as well as space shuttles possess a limited amount of energy to keep their equipment working once they have been launched into space. Could you imagine being able to generate energy, for the ISS, using molecules found in the astronauts’ urine? Or being able to turn non-drinking water into one that is actually safe to drink?  Moreover, being able to use special materials, called biomaterials, to develop bone grafts?

Rosa Navarro Haydon: Founder of Puerto Rican School Science Education 1926-1966

Wilson Javier Gonzalez-Espada's picture
Prof. Rosa Navarro Hayden. Photo courtesy of Iveliz M. Cruz Irizarry, UPR Universiyt Archive.

Many historians agree that one of the most difficult periods in the history of Puerto Rico occurred between late 1920s and early 1940s. During this time, the Island faced natural disasters, lie hurricanes San Felipe (1928) and San Ciprián (1932), and economic disasters like the collapse of the world economy, the infamous Big Depression [1].

Pages