Ciencia Boricua Profiles

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

Illuminating science: Promoting the field of photonics in Puerto Rico

Luis Cedeno's picture
Dr. Jonathan Friedman

For one thousand years, we humans have been fascinated by light and by harnessing its power to develop new technologies. Light and optics are the basis of some the most important technologies of our time—from lasers, to fiber optics and telecommunications; from technologies to explore the cosmos, to applications to explore the world on a microscopic or even nanoscopic scale.  In honor of such an important area of research and knowledge, the year 2015 was proclaimed by the United Nations as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL).

Ana Helvia Quintero: A Borinqueña that has re-invented math education

Luis Enrique Valentín Alvarado's picture
Dra. Ana Helvia Quintero

In November 2013 we launched our Borinqueña initiative to broaden the discussion about women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and promote the participation of women in these disciplines and careers where they have traditionally been underrepresented. On our second Borinqueña anniversary, we dedicate our monthly story to Dr. Ana Helvia Quintero, a math loving Borinqueña, educator by vocation and profession that has fought (as a professor, researcher and within the sphere of public policy) so that our young people have access to the world of mathematics.

Graciela Candelas: science, art, and the art of teaching science

Lumarie Pérez-Guzmán's picture
Dra. Graciela Candelas
Dr. Graciela Candelas

Puerto Rico is well known, globally, as a leader in biosciences.  This is mostly due because we train and educate professionals of the highest caliber in these disciplines.  For this, we have to thank Dr. Graciela Candelas, a professor and pioneer researcher who revolutionized biology education in Puerto Rico.

Graciela Candelas was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico in 1922.  She received motivation to study sciences from her father, Teobaldo Casanova, a statistical psychologist.  He encouraged Graciela and her sisters to pursue careers in science because “they could learn the humanities at home”.

Becoming a pioneer

Daniel Colón-Ramos: studying and building connections

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture
Dr. Daniel Colón Ramos
Dr. Daniel Colón Ramos

You could say that the life of Dr. Daniel Colón-Ramos is one big game of connect-the-dots. A native of Palo Hincado in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, and now associate professor at Yale University, Daniel investigates how neurons make connections to form a functional nervous system.

Dr. Colón-Ramos has taken the lessons he’s learned about connectivity and applied them beyond the bench, finding ways to link two of his loves: science and Puerto Rico. 

Homeland connection

Edith A. Pérez: A Pioneer in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer

Lorraine Doralys Rodriguez-Rivera's picture
Dra. Edith A. Pérez
Dr. Edith A. Pérez

The American Cancer Society estimates that breast cancer will claim the lives of more than 40,700 Americans in 2015. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women in the United States, after lung cancer. It has been estimated that doctors will diagnose nearly 232,000 women with invasive breast cancer and around 60,300 women with non-invasive breast cancer, this year.

Luciano Castillo: Winds of Innovation to Transform Energy Production and Engineering Education

Aileen Marie García Vargas's picture
El Dr. Castillo, junto al grupo del instituto de verano de Texas Tech University del 2014 y el visitante Dr. Gad-el-hak de Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Castillo, the Texas Tech University's Summer Institute Group, and Dr. Gad-el-hak, visiting from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Engineering is often perceived as a utilitarian discipline where innovation is only for commercial purposes. However, many engineers work on solving problems of social and environmental importance. This is the case of Dr. Luciano Castillo, Professor of Engineering at Texas Tech University who has devoted his life—and hundreds of publications and various inventions—to improve the production of eco-sustainable energy sources through developing fundamental research in wind energy.

María Tamargo: a scientist passionate about the intersection of mentoring, teaching and research

Gabriella Sanguineti Lozada's picture
Dr. Tamargo con su grupo de investigación
Dr. Tamargo with her research group. Photo courtesy of Dr. Tamargo.

Dr. María Tamargo’s interest in science began as a young woman. She was first exposed to chemistry as a high school student, where she had the opportunity to study in Spain for a year. This opportunity sparked her desire to become a scientist and therefore, she decided to major in chemistry. For her undergraduate degree, María attended the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, where her parents were also professors. At the time, the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico did not offer a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Recognizing her scientific talent, one of her professors encouraged María to transfer to the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, where she completed her B.S. in Chemistry.

Luis A. Colón: A chemist and teacher dedicated to excellence in mentorship and research

Reyna I. Martínez De Luna's picture
Dr. Luis A. Colón
Dr. Luis A. Colón

Mentoring is crucial for success. A mentor’s unconditional support can propel you forward, and the guided learning that a mentor provides encourages professional and personal growth. For Dr. Luis A. Colón, mentoring is also a way to pay it forward.  Throughout his journey to become a professor, Dr. Colón had very good mentors. He has made it his mission to serve others in a similar way.

Edwin A. Hernández Delgado: Paladin of corals and their conservation

Wilson Javier Gonzalez-Espada's picture
Dr . Edwin Hernández
Dr . Edwin Hernández

Corals have an extraordinary ecological role. They serve as the main habitat for thousands of species and are the base of the coastal food web. Corals also protect from coastal erosion, to mitigate greenhouse gases and global warming, to boost the fishing industry, and to serve as places for tourism and recreation. However, in the last decades, many corals have been dying. The attackers are many: turbidity, sedimentation, fecal contamination, climate change and even military bombs. 

The forest is our greatest teacher

Elizabeth Padilla-Crespo's picture
El bosque nos enseña
The forest is our greatest teacher. Photo: Florentino Velázquez

The municipality of Adjuntas, harbored in the mountains of Puerto Rico, has many firsts:  the first ecological and community-based radio station of the Caribbean, the first net energy metering system, the first forest reserve managed by a community organization and the Bosque Escuela (the Forest School), a unique concept in the Puerto Rican archipelago of a school amid La Olimpia Forest.  All the initiatives aforementioned are the product of Casa Pueblo a community-based organization housed in “the city of the sleeping giant”.