Ciencia Boricua Profiles

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

Dr. Juan F. Arratia: Guiding young scientists to success

Reyna I. Martínez De Luna's picture
Dr. Arratia has been recognized at a national level for his student mentoring

Some people think that helping others is the key to success.  For Dr. Juan F. Arratia a fundamental part of his professional life has been to provide his students with the necessary tools and experiences to reach their goals.  Dr. Arratia has dedicated his life to helping Puerto Rican students to obtain a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Pedro Barbosa, the entomology “witch doctor”

Wilson Javier Gonzalez-Espada's picture
Dr. Pedro Barbosa

We are in the middle of a war most people know nothing about. It is a war that has been going on, unstoppable and deadly, for more than 400 million years. I am referring to the co-evolutionary war between plants and insects.

It is very likely that this conflict started as the first insects evolved out of the ocean ecosystem. By that time, many plants have already transitioned and became terrestrial. The first insects that tried dry land discovered the largest “salad bar” in the world, miles and miles all types and sizes of plants for them to enjoy.

The Puerto Rican Parrot Genome Project: A Community Effort

Greetchen Díaz-Muñoz's picture
Puerto Rican parrot eating a fruit
Amazona vittata. Courtesy of Omar Monsegur - USFWS Endangered Species

Day by day, scientists face great challenges in carrying out their research. Traditionally, in order to fund their projects, scientists write research proposals to government agencies, where they are evaluated by other colleagues. The challenge is even greater for early career scientists, as they must compete with established scientists with vast experience. The picture is less encouraging if we consider that the budget problems threaten the "sequestration" of funds for science and technology.

Art-science: Dissemination of science through art

Yaihara Fortis Santiago's picture
Dr. José Francisco Salgado, astrónomo, fotógrafo, artista visual y educador, en el Observatorio de Arecibo (Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, 28 Nov 2007). . Derechos de autor: Foto por Jorge Rodríguez, © 2007 José Francisco Salgado, PhD
Astronomer, graphic artist and photographer José Francisco Salgado at the Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, 28 Nov 2007. Copyright Photo by Jorge Rodríguez, © 2007 José Francisco Salgado, PhD

Becoming a scientist is a very individual process and can involve different paths as we discover and combine diverse experiences and interests. Although the trajectory to becoming a scientist is something very personal, finding a way to merge our passions is one of the most important things that we can do to ensure professional success, especially in the sciences. This was the case for astronomer, graphic artist and photographer José Francisco Salgado.

Pushing the boundaries of neurobiology: The Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture
El Instituto de Neurobiología en el Viejo San Juan.
Located in historic Old San Juan, the Institute of Neurobiology has established the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience, becoming a pioneer in this emerging field.

Every organism, from flies to humans, experiences their surroundings through the nervous system.  The senses, specialized parts of that nervous system, allow organisms to explore and respond to an ever-changing environment.  The ability to interact with, respond and adapt to an environment and its changes is a key feature for any organism’s survival.

The Chemistry of Going from Mentee to a Mentor

Yaihara Fortis Santiago's picture
Dr. Luis Echegoyen
Dr. Luis Echegoyen is Robert A Welch Endowed Professor in Chemistry at the University of Texas, El Paso

In general terms, a mentor is a role model—a person that has delivered positive results or achieved professional success and is in a position to help others that want to accomplish similar goals.  Dr. Luis Echegoyen, a Robert A. Welch endowed Professor in Chemistry at University of Texas at El Paso, understands the true meaning of this definition.

Beyond the Laboratory: Promoting Scientific Dialogue, from Puerto Rico to D.C.

Samuel L Díaz Muñoz's picture
Dra. Frances Colón
La Dra. Frances Colón es Asesora en Ciencia y Tecnología para la Secretaria de Estado de los Estados Unidos.

There is no doubt that science and technology have a great impact on our lives. Transportation, media, medical advances and what we know about the Universe and the human body, are the result of scientific knowledge and its applications.

Science is also inseparable from the economy, politics, law and education. The decision-making process concerning the preservation of our ecosystems, or in which areas of research to invest funding in order to stimulate solutions to social problems, can and should be informed by scientific data.

Illuminating the "Gray City" and the World with her Science

Reyna I. Martínez De Luna's picture
Dra Lilliam Casillas
La Dra. Lilliam Casillas Martínez is Profesora en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao y fundadora del Observatorio Microbiológica Cabo Rojo.

This summer, while on the way Playa Sucia or Los Morrillos Lighthouse, many of us will drive by the Cabo Rojo salt flats. Salt extracted from the Cabo Rojo salt from salt flats—the oldest industry in Puerto Rico—is highly pure and has great commercial value, thus making it an important source of income. But, did you know that the salt flats or salterns, as they are also known, are also a large-scalen oversized Microbiology laboratory?

Eco-pacifist Education as a Tool for Social Evolution

Jacqueline Flores Otero's picture
Logo Proyecto EcoPaz
El Proyecto Ecopaz utiliza recursos educativos para proveer herramientas que nos ayuden a entender y transformar los problemas que actualmente enfrentamos.

Throughout the years, our role as agents of change in a dynamic society such as the one we live in has acquired major relevance. Our society is not only threatened by the economic challenges that are actually being faced in the world, but by the crisis that exists in what respect to the human values and its consequences in the environment.

Advancing Society with Science

Mónica Ivelisse Feliú-Mójer's picture
Daniel Colón Ramos, recibiendo premio AAAS
CienciaPR's founder and Yale University professor, Daniel Colón-Ramos, receiving the 2011 AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

The answer to many of the environmental, health, social and economic challenges faced by modern society lay in the advancement of science, engineering and innovation. Thus, scientists and engineers must play a role in making science accessible to the public they aim to help with their discoveries.

Organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) aim to increase communication between the scientists and the public to "advance science and serve society."