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.
Cintrón-González has embraced her role as a pioneer. She was the first professor in industrial engineering at Francis Marion University. During her first two years there, she was not only the first, but the only one. She came to the institution shortly after graduating with a doctorate in this discipline and a specialty in ergonomics from Penn State University, to start and lead the first program in industrial engineering at FMU.
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.
His passion for strengthening Puerto Rican education through volunteering comes from his own life experiences. Manolo acknowledges that he would not have accomplished as much as he has without the mentors that guided and mentored him throughout his career and life and that shared their enthusiasm for science with him. “I have always felt a passion for teaching going beyond just knowledge, so that the person, child or teacher feels excited by his classes or seminars”.
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?
Although this may sound like science fiction, Dr. Eduardo Nicolau and his students are working very hard to find solutions to these real-world problems. For instance, astronauts, people with severe health conditions, and countries where water scarcity is an issue, could benefit from Dr. Nicolau’s research.
At some point in our lives we have asked questions regarding the environment, the animals that inhabit planet earth, and climatic conditions. How does an increase in temperature could affect some organisms? How do small changes in a specific environment can have a large-scale effect on our planet? How does human activity affect our bodies of water? These are some of the questions that Dr. Restrepo, an ecologist and professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras, is attempting to answer through her research projects.
I've had all kinds of dreams when I sleep. Some are very long and strange but others are just funny. Those dreams while I sleep have always been a mystery to me, but are not part of my favorite moments. Daydreaming is what I really enjoy. I like to imagine how things would be if I do something to make them happen. They say, " It costs nothing to dream". I add that "to achieve your dreams is worth everything."
The disparity of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is still a serious issue in 2016. Computer science, a STEM discipline, is not the exception. Data from the National Science Foundation show that although the number women acquiring computer science degrees has increased since 2002, women are still a small proportion of the workforce in this field which continues to be dominated by men.
That was the case for Dr. Patricia Ordóñez, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras, who despite her abilities and interests, took a tortuous road to obtain the position she holds today. Patricia knows too well about the and discrimination that women and minorities face in this field and is set on changing these statistics.
Dr. Valerie Wojna, center, with her NeuroAIDS Program colleagues.
Great advances in the management, prevention and treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have significantly reduced the mortality caused by this infection. However, the stigma around the disease remains, so there are groups of patients who are discriminated against when receiving medical care. Dr. Valerie Wojna, professor at the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (MSC-UPR), seeks to improve the quality of life of one of these underserved groups: women with HIV.
Por Dr. Wilson Gonzalez-Espada, Ciencia Puerto Rico
A well-known mathematics postulate states that: “Through any two points, there is exactly one straight line." Our reality, of course, is much more complicated than that. The life journey of a person is more like the curvy roads of PR-1, or “La Piquiña.”
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). In Puerto Rico, celebrations for the IYL were led by Dr. Jonathan Friedman, an expert in the physics of light and a champion for Puerto Rico as a destination for the training of students and development of new technologies in the area of photonics, the manipulation of photons of light and energy for science, engineering and technology applications.
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.
Ana Helvia Quintero was born, raised and educated in San Juan. Her love for mathematics shaped the beginnings of her scholar career. However, studying mathematics was not her main goal, instead she dreamed of becoming an educator.