Diversity in Science Carnival #3: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Oct 16 2009 Published by under Blogging, Diversity in Science

DiSBadge_150.pngWelcome to the 3rd edition of the Diversity in Science Blog Carnival! This Carnival was created by D.N. Lee of the Urban Science Adventures! blog with additional impetus from acmegirl of the Thesis- With Children blog. In early 2009 D.N. Lee issued a call for the new blog carnival and hosted the inaugural edition. The Diversity in Science Carnival #2 was hosted at Thus Spake Zuska under the theme Women Achievers in STEM - Past and Present. This will be the third edition of the Carnival and it was proposed by Your Humble Narrator as a celebration of Hispanic individuals within the STEM disciplines.
The US National Hispanic Heritage Month [Wikipedia] runs from 15 Sep to 15 Oct every year. The purpose is to celebrate:

...the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

In contemplating the theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month ("Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now!"), Isis the Scientist reflected:

Most of the previous years' themes highlight how the Hispanic can integrate into American society and strengthen their community. 2007's theme especially was targeted at how the Hispanic can offer something to society-- is this year's theme a message that perhaps it is time for the Hispanic people to refuse to continue to be marginalized as a source of cheap labor? That it is time for them to host a revolt of their own and not be concerned about whether they are thought to be "blow[ing] off steam." Is this theme telling us that the Hispanic people need to follow in the footsteps of their African American brethren and begin a civil rights movement of their own? Dare I say, "orale güey?"


If any subtheme emerged from the posts that were submitted for the Carnival it is that young Hispanic scientists are living their own personal "Now"s. They are embracing the "now" of their careers and service to their fellow Americans and world citizens. In this, they undoubtedly had an ever so slightly easier time because of the scientists who came before them, several of whom are described in the Carnival as well.
Happy Reading!
LealAbel Pharmboy introduced us to Sandra Leal, PharmD, CDE, by way of an interview. Sandra Leal:

was a rising pre-pharmacy sophomore from the University of Arizona in Tucson who came to the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy for a summer cancer research internship sponsored by the American Cancer Society...Sandra graduated as valedictorian of her class of over 100 doctor of pharmacy students...Sandra became the first pharmacist in the state of Arizona to earn limited prescribing rights and she is immediate past-president of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved...My mom never had the opportunity to go beyond elementary school in Mexico and my father finished high school and had some training in accounting in Mexico. Nobody in my family had attended college before me and my parents were actually surprised that I wanted to go to college...

Marin-SpiottaSciWo described a geoscientist colleague, Erika Marin-Spiotta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

a first-year assistant professor, she's settling into faculty life in the Midwest and looking for students to continue and expand her research at scales from the molecular to landscape level, and on topics from hydrologic controls on soil organic matter to legacies of land-use on ecosystem dynamics...Marin-Spiotta is impressively committed to community building and peer mentoring among women earth scientists. As a member of the leadership board of the Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN)

Marin-SpiottaDanielle Lee, nature blogger as she is tells us about George Melendez Wright, who she terms the father of resource management in the US National Park systems. He managed quite a bit before his untimely death at the age of 31.

He earned degrees in Forestry and Zoology from the University of California - Berkeley. It seems only right that he would work for the National Parks Service as a naturalist at Yosemite Park.
However, Mr. Wright, with his scientific background did more than blaze park trails - he blazed a new direction for the Park Service. In 1930, with the help of two colleagues he documented all of the plants and animals in the park. The effort took four years, and he funded much of the work out of his own pockets.
He helped forge new the policies that benefited preserving the wildlife for future generations and protect people from their own curiosity. This formative work led to recommendations that were published in 1932 as Fauna of the National Parks of the United States, a Preliminary Survey of Faunal Relations in National Parks. Eventually, all other parks would conduct and publish a survey of the local fauna and flora.

AndradeIsis the Scientist overviewed Francisco Andrade:

Dr. Andrade es un profesor de fisiología en la Universidad de Kentucky. Allí, estudia la función de los grupos de músculos especializados, como los músculos que controlan los ojos y la laringe. Dr. Andrade está bien financiada y ha escrito más de cuarenta artículos científicos. Sin embargo, yo quería escribir sobre el Dr. Andrade porque es un maestro y mentor de excepción. Muchas de las cosas que él ha escrito me han guiado en mi carrera. Por ejemplo, él escribió este artículo en The Physiologist sobre el establecimiento de un nuevo laboratorio y la contratación de personal. Él es un miembro de la Comisión de las Mujeres en Ciencia del APS y ha respondido a las preguntas acerca de ser una mujer o minoría en ciencia . Es porque el Dr. Andrade es un científico de talento y invierte en ayudar con las carreras de otras que tengo un profundo respeto por él. De hecho, estoy muy orgulloso de llamarlo mi colega.

(don't worry, Dr. Isis took pity on those of us with insufficient education and posted a translation as well)
We next turn to the homer topics, drug abuse scientists! Near and dear to my own heart as you know, DearReaders.
ODellLaura05.jpgI chose to highlight the accomplishments of Laura E. O'Dell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

she has contributed substantially to our understanding of the effects of drugs of abuse on the brain. She has published papers related to the abuse of, and dependence on, alcohol, cocaine, opiates and nicotine...Professor O'Dell has already been recognized nationally for her early career accomplishments. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE), as one of 12 awardees associated with the NIH for 2008....Dr. O'Dell is a parent-scientist; knowing that she juggles these roles will give many of my parent-scientist readers additional admiration for her academic accomplishments. I will close by noting that I am professionally acquainted with Laura and that she is a highly engaging person, quick with a smile and a laugh; rumour has it that she made some cheeky remarks to President Bush at the PECASE ceremony!

perez-reyes.jpgDr. Leigh of The Path Forward blog described the impact of Mario Perez-Reyes, M.D., emeritus professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.

Dr. Perez-Reyes is responsible for much of the early systematic investigation of marijuana and its constituents in humans, reaching back to the early 1970s and continuing well into the late 1990s. He characterized the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of several marijuana constituents after varying routes of administration, pharmacologic activity of cannabinoid metabolites, tolerance to cannabinoids, effects of cannabinoids in males and females, the effects of passive inhalation of marijuana smoke, excretion of cannabinoids in milk, and interactions between marijuana and other drugs such as ethanol. This is by no means an exhaustive list...
I once had the pleasure of sharing a dinner table with Dr. Perez-Reyes, among other distinguished researchers that a mere graduate student would only dream of being able to speak with on such a personal level. Over dinner, I found that Dr. Perez-Reyes is both a scholar and a gentleman.

Although not a canonical feature of blog carnivals, I have a bit of link dumping for you as well. In my researches for my entry, I ran across the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Reader Dario Ringach mentioned the accomplishments of cardiac surgeon René Favaloro, M.D., biochemist and Nobel Laureate Luis Federico Leloir and neuroscientist Ranulfo Romo, M.D.. I also ran across one Captain Edwin Muñiz M.D., Ph.D. and Ed.D., who was the first person of Hispanic heritage to be named Aerospace Physiologist in the United States Air Force and NASA.
To end on a lighter / no-not-really note, the incomparable Zuska dissects the commercial meme of the total hawt-ness of the probably-Latina and technically accomplished woman in But Plumber Chicks are HAWT!
I hope you enjoy getting to know these people as much as I did, DearReader. My thanks to all of the bloggers that wrote posts for the Carnival!


D.N. Lee is volunteering to continue with the next edition of the Carnival. She is proposing one on STEM Diversity and Broad Impacts - highlights of successful, ambitious STEM diversity programs such as REUs, mentoring programs and scholarships. Sounds like an intriguing topic to me! The deadline will be November 15 and she will plan to have it published Nov 20.

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