Things That Matter

17 Notable Latinos Pushing Science Forward Today

Over the last century, many scientists have emerged from Latin America and from Latino communities around the world. However noteworthy and important their work has been for the progress of science, these remarkably intelligent, innovative people are rarely talked about in classrooms. The following is a list of men, women and young people who exemplify the best of the Latin community. They come from different ethnic groups and educational background, but what they do have in common is the drive to solve common problems that affect the world through science. 

1. Prof. Pedro A. Sanchez

CREDIT: UC Santa Cruz

From selling eggs back in Cuba, to washing dishes to fund his education at Cornell University, Pedro Sanchez, has led groundbreaking research in soil science to improve soil quality and boost food production all around the developing world. Thanks to Sanchez’s work that spurred the Green Revolution, 15 million people no longer starve today.

2. Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff

CREDIT: Twitter @lydiavk

Born in New Mexico from Mexican parents, Dr. Komaroff was the third Mexican-American woman to get a doctorate degree in the sciences. Among many scientific achievements, her most notable work was the first ever production of insulin from bacterial cells. Today, most of the insulin for human use is produced using the techniques that Dr. Komaroff introduced.  

3. Dr. Frances Colón

CREDIT: Mission of the United States Geneva/Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Frances Colon grew up in Puerto Rico and received her doctorate in neuroscience at Brandeis University. Colon served almost five years as the Science and Technology Adviser, becoming the highest-ranking Hispanic scientist at the State department. Prior to this role, she served as a Science and Technology Adviser to then Secretary of State John Kerry. In 2009, Colon led the Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas. In 2015, she co-chaired the UN Commission on Science and Technology. 

4. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

Sabrina Pasterski is a first-generation Cuban American who has been lauded as “the next Einstein”. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a year earlier than her peers with a perfect GPA. At just the age of 24, she is now pursuing her doctorate in physics at Harvard University. In 2015, she completed first solo research paper on electromagnetic memory, which was cited by Stephen Hawking in his own research published the next year. 

5. Ellen Ochoa

 CREDIT: Twitter @Astro_Ellen

Perhaps the best known example of a successful Latina scientist is Ellen Ochoa. After completing a doctorate in electrical engineering, Ellen Ochoa served as a researcher at NASA. While at NASA, Ochoa co-invented and patented three optic devices and became the first Hispanic woman to participate in space missions. Most notably, Ochoa helped perform the first ever shuttle docking to the International Space Station in 1999 on board the Discovery. Since 2012, Ochoa has served director of NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, becoming the first Hispanic woman to ever do so.  

6. Mario Molina

                            CREDIT: CC BY-SA/Wikimedia Commons

If you think about chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and how bad they are for the ozone, the last thing on your mind would be the person who figured it all out, Mario Molina. Since he was a child in Mexico, Molina knew he had to be a chemist. He studied in Switzerland, Germany and Mexico and received his doctorate in physical chemistry at UC Berkeley. At Berkeley, Molina pursued his postdoctoral research study on the effects CFCs once they are released into the atmosphere. Within three months, Molina with the help of computer simulations, found that CFCs could potentially damage the ozone layer. Molina and his mentor Prof. Sherwood Roland spent the next decades alerting governments to the dangers of CFCs, but their warnings fell on deaf ears. When Molina’s findings were confirmed, he was awarded with the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

7. Nicole Hernandez Hammer

                                   CREDIT: Twitter @NHH_Climate

Nicole Hammer is a Guatemalan biologist and researcher who studies the effects of climate change on sea levels and vulnerable populations on the coastal areas of Southeastern United States. She has authored several papers and has spoken extensively on climate change for international media outlets like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Post.

8. Scarlin Hernandez

CREDIT: NASA

Scarlin Hernandez is a 26 year-old Dominican working as a spacecraft engineer for NASA. She develops and tests code and ground systems for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Mission. Hernandez was given full scholarship by the National Science Foundation (NSF). After graduating, she interned at the Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA and went on to be team leader for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. 

9. Dr. Juan Maldacena

CREDIT: Creative Commons

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juan Maldacena studied physics at the University of Buenos Aires before going on to earn two master’s degrees and a doctorate in theoretical physics. As a young professor in Harvard in 1999, Maldacena managed to reshape the fundamentals of physics with his discovery. Maldacena’s discovery has helped physicists to study black holes and quantum gravity, and  has been cited more than 15, 000 times since its publication, making it the most widely cited paper ever in physics. 

10. Javier Fernandez-Han

CREDIT: TEDx

Javier Fernandez-Han is just 17. As young as he is, Javier Fernandez-Han has taken strides that not many adults can claim to. Born to Chinese and Mexican immigrants, Fernandez-Han was recently named among the Forbes’ 30 under 30 for his invention of using algae to break down sewage waste into methane, which can be used for fuel. But that’s not all: When he was 14, he launched an organization “Inventors without Borders”. It aims to find “innovative solutions to solve real-world problems in rural, poverty-stricken areas”.

11. Eloy Rodriguez

CREDIT: National Institutes of Health

Another noteworthy Latino scientist is Eloy Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Texas to Mexican parents. He is a world-renowned professor and scientist in many specialties of science, including toxicology, cell biology, plant biology and chemical ecology. He has published two books and more than 160 research studies and has received many awards for his exceptional work. Rodriguez also founded Kids Investigating and Discovering Science (KIDS) that gives minority children an opportunity to study science.

12. France Anne-Dominic Córdova

CREDIT: National Science Foundation

France Cordova is an astrophysicist appointed as the fourteenth president of the National Science Foundation in 2014. Previously, she had published more than 150 studies in astrophysics. As if that wasn’t enough, Cordova also served as chief scientist for NASA, founded a medical school and has won multiple awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

13. Salvador Moncada

CREDIT: The University of Manchester

Salvador Moncada is a Honduran pharmacologist who is currently the Research Director at the University of Manchester Cancer Centre. Moncada studied medicine in El Salvador, then went on to pursue a PhD in Pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons. His scientific work continues to break ground in the molecular mechanisms and treatment of heart disease, inflammation, cancer and malaria. Dr. Moncada’s discoveries have been lauded internationally, especially his discovery of nitric oxide. His unjust exclusion from the 1998 Nobel Prize for Medicine was heavily criticised in the scientific community. 

14. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

CREDIT: CNN

Also known as “Dr. Q”, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa is a neurosurgeon and a world-renowned researcher. He is the director of Neurologic Surgery and runs the research lab at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Between 2005-2016, Quiñones and his team published more than 150 scientific studies on the development of brain cancer. Currently, Quiñones leads the NIH initiative to find a cure for brain cancer. He has also been developing minimally-invasive neurosurgical techniques with the use of nanotechnology.

15. Manny Villafaña

CREDIT: The Claretian Initiative

Far from being a typical PhD educated scientist, Manny Villafaña grew up in the Bronx and received only a high school diploma. What he lacks in education, though, he makes up for in foresight and grit. He started out his career at Picker International, then moved on to Medtronic. In 1971, left Medtronic to launch rival company Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. that revolutionized pacemaker technology. In 1976, Villafaña launched St. Jude Medical that engineered the first artificial bileaflet heart valve that blood clotting. Recently, Villafaña launched his new venture which aims to produce artificial coronary arteries for patients needing bypass surgery. 

16. Dr. Julio C. Palmaz

CREDIT:  Stanford Biodesign

If you have had a heart attack, you’ve got Julio Palmaz to thank for. Born in Argentina to parents of Italian descent, Palmaz moved to the United States with his family in 1977. The next year, Palmaz conceived the idea of a stent after a conference in New Orleans. In 1983, he successfully developed the prototype, which received patent in 1994. Dr. Palmaz has basically saved millions of lives and continues to drive innovation in stent technology.

17. Dr. Domingo Liotta

CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

Another Latino whose work continues to push innovation in cardiology and cardiac surgery is Domingo Liotta. Like Julio Palmaz, Liotta was born in Argentina to Italian parents. In 1958, Liotta created a prototype of the world’ first ever artificial heart. His invention caught the attention of world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, who hired Liotta to be chief of the Artificial Heart Program at Baylor College of Medicine. Modern heart assist devices are based off of Liotta’s original design, and continues to save lives.

Your Abuela Always Warned You About Eclipses But The One Yesterday In South America Was Truly Special

Things That Matter

Your Abuela Always Warned You About Eclipses But The One Yesterday In South America Was Truly Special

theatl / Twitter

Yesterday, thousands of people in Chile and Argentina stood outside and gazed at the sky as day turned briefly to night during this year’s only total solar eclipse.

For two minutes, Earth’s moon completely blocked the sun, allowing observers in the path of its shadow to see solar prominences and the sun’s vast corona extending out into space.

Viewers across Chile and Argentina were treated to a particularly special solar eclipse yesterday.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world’s clearest skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.

The best views this time were from Chile’s sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world’s clearest skies.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

OMG, this is so cool!

Office workers poured from buildings late in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon and a run on special “eclipse-viewing” glasses downtown had led to a shortage in many stores, with street vendors charging as much as $10 for a pair of the disposable, cardboard-framed lenses.Advertisement

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.

And you don’t get a chance to see this too often…

Credit: @NWSNorman / Twitter

Weather satellites captured a once in a lifetime shot showing the solar eclipse crossing the South Pacific Ocean together with Hurricane Barbara off the coast of Mexico. Que chido!

And, of course, the solar eclipse that’s taking place over Latin America is special!

Credit: @WIRED / Twitter

So solar eclipses aren’t super rare. In fact, they occur roughly every 18 months. Some of them last just a few seconds; others stretch up to seven minutes.

But today’s eclipse in South America is special for several reasons.

First, it takes place during a low-activity period in the solar cycle, called the minimum, meaning the views for certain researchers will be a little clearer and more nuanced given the lack of “clutter,” or activity such as flares and prominences emanating from the surface.

Also, it will pass directly over an area that is home to major astronomical research observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Gemini South, and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory.

It’s also taking place across the Atacama Desert – a special place for viewing celestial objects.

Images have been pouring in on social media from across South America.

Credit: @AP_Images / Twitter

Like this amazing shot taken in Argentina.

And this one from the Andes Mountains in Chile.

Credit: @joabaldwin / Twitter

I mean, that’s an other worldly image right there.

And remember, whatever you do, don’t take this Twitter user’s advice.

Credit: @nostalgiabloom / Twitter

Or, you know, don’t follow our president’s lead either. Remember the eclipse of 2017 when he stared directly into the sunlight…? Yea, impossible to forget.

Are you already waiting for the next chance to see a solar eclipse?

Credit: @Forbes / Twitter

Well, depending on where you’re at you may be waiting awhile. Although, South America will have another chance next year as an eclipse will take a similar path in 2020.

For viewers in the US, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for our best shot when an eclipse will be visible from Mexico, across Texas, and up to Chicago, New York, and Maine.

READ: This Is What A Latino Household Is Like On The Day Of A Solar Eclipse

This Woman Lost It When She Witnessed Her Uber Driver Read His Acceptance To Harvard And It’s The Purest Explosion Of Emotion I’ve Seen

Things That Matter

This Woman Lost It When She Witnessed Her Uber Driver Read His Acceptance To Harvard And It’s The Purest Explosion Of Emotion I’ve Seen

Unfortunately, we see a lot of terrible stories associated with Uber and other ride-share apps but this definitely isn’t one of them. No, this story of persistence, hard work and the power of being genuinely happy for other people’s success is making the rounds and we can’t stop watching it.

On, July 14th, 2019, Twitter user @718rubyy went viral when she tweeted a short video of her recent Uber ride.

Twitter / @718rubyy

In the tweet, she explains that her Uber driver shared with her that she might just be his lucky charm. What might have read as a pickup line, is actually some really awesome news. The tweet explains that — after two years of trying — the unnamed Uber driver has finally been accepted into Harvard University!

“My God, guys! My Uber driver got into Harvard,” she can be heard cheering. “Black Excellence!”

As if that good news wasn’t enough, the response of his passenger made the announcement even better. The Dominicana Uber patron can be heard on the video celebrating and hyping up her driver.

Her Uber driver took the congratulations with a balance of pride and shyness — ducking away from the camera while recording.

Twitter was quick to join in on the congratulations for this Harvard-bound young man.

Twitter / @Ant_OnPoint

This Twitter user had some words of encouragement and advice for the new Harvard student. When you’ve got good momentum, don’t slow down. We’re sure he’ll keep working towards his unquestionably bright future.

Others users pointed out that his passenger’s excitement on video is positively infectious.

Twitter / @Jodemoted
Twitter / @keetron6000

This Dominicana must know that when one of us win, we all win. So, naturally, it makes sense to celebrate this young man’s accomplishments with the energy that we see on the video.

Some Twitter users suggested the Harvard student should continue to explore his luck.

Twitter / @Sirdarius97

Luck isn’t everything. We’re sure getting into Harvard took a lot of hard work as well. STILL, this new student should take full advantage of this good luck streak and hope for more positivity coming his way.

Like any good story, followers have been looking for the romance in this tale.

Twitter / @r8gue

In fact, some were projecting their own romantic hopes for the pair. No word if there’s a love connection resulting from this Uber meet-cute, but we’ll keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, we ship it.

However, some Twitter users saw it more as an ingenious pick-up line instead of true love.

Twitter / @cubanlxs

We can see how it would seem that way but the news looks pretty genuine. Either way, we respect his game if it’s truly a line.

No matter what you feel about a possible romance between the two, one thing was agreed upon by all.

Twitter / @brazillianphil

Uber story or not, this is the kind of content we like to see on the TL. Good luck at Harvard next year, mystery Uber driver!

Check out the full video below!

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