When astrophysicist Dr. Héctor Arce returned home to Puerto Rico in October of 2015, it was to bring a handful of Yale astronomy students to Arecibo Observatory, at that time, the largest single dish radio telescope in the world. For Héctor, a professor of astrophysics at Yale University, passion for the stars started at home. When Héctor was young, his grandfather used to build his own telescopes. “I still have them,” Héctor says. Staring through the lenses of those telescopes with his grandfather opened a universe of possibility for young Héctor.
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.
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!
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).
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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?