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Hispanic Heritage Month: Blazing a Trail for Diversity

By: Debra L. Bouyer
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and cultures of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This annual celebration starts on September 15 to mark the independence of several Latin American countries. After two decades of yearly proclamations designating one week to honor Hispanic Americans, George H.W. Bush was the first president to declare September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. Since then, this time has been used as a platform to continuously highlight the myriad of accomplishments made by the Hispanic and Latinx communities.

Throughout our nation’s history, renowned scientists such as Severo Ochoa (1905-1993)Baruj Benacerraf  (1920-2011), and C├ęsar Milstein (1927-2002) have been recognized for their significant contributions to science. Despite those noble accomplishments, there are still countless examples of scientists who continue to blaze the trail for others. Cell Press highlights the 100 most inspiring Hispanic and Latinx scientists in the United States who are amplifying their voices through their research. Some of those role models include:

  • Michelle Juarez, PhD, a Science Education Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has a doctorate in genetics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Juarez’s research interests include Drosophila developmental genetics, as it relates to regulation of tissue repair and science communication that broadens the impact of research in the community. Juarez is a member of the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB), the Genetics Society of America (GSA), and FASEB’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Committee.
  • Pamela Padilla, PhD, a Professor of Biological Sciences, Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of North Texas, has a doctorate in biology from the University of New Mexico. Padilla’s research interests focus on how environmental stress affects living organisms at the cellular, genetic, and molecular level. Padilla currently serves as President of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the largest STEM diversity organization in the United States.
  • Anita Quintana, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, has a doctorate in biomedical sciences from the University of New Mexico. Quintana studies the genetic etiology of multiple congenital anomaly syndromes (MCAs). Quintana’s goal is to improve future treatment options and identify novel preventative measures for MCA disorders.

FASEB recognizes the importance of highlighting the achievements of our scientists across career stages in academia, government, industry, and nonprofit sectors. In our continued effort to drive diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity in the biomedical research community, FASEB is highlighting our society members from historically excluded communities throughout the year. If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Debbie Bouyer.