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About Us

Throughout our journeys, we were lucky to have mentors who invested in us, whether it was through mentorship, providing access to research opportunities or making us aware of fellowship opportunities. We believe that everyone deserves to have someone who can push forward potential and guide him/her along the way.


We strive to provide a platform where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, gender,  sexual orientation, disability or immigration status—has equal access to fellowship and scholarship opportunities, and the chance to learn from their peers to becoming successful STEM professionals and other related fields.

Mission Statement: Cientifico Latino, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote an environment of inclusivity in STEM and increase the number of scientists from minoritized backgrounds in higher education in the sciences through mentorship,
open-access resources, and professional development opportunities. 

Our Initiatives

To help spread information about relevant opportunities in STEM through practical professional development workshops for college and high school students.

Create equal access opportunities that provide critical support needed to succeed in STEM through public databases.

Preparing underrepresented students to navigate the STEM graduate school application process.

Supporting diverse graduate students through their first year in graduate school via  mentorship, professional development, and community events.  

Team

Our Team

Please use the following dropdown menu  below to filter based on department/program.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

rwf2123-at-columbia.edu

Robert W. Fernandez, PhD

He/Him/His

Co-founder; Executive Director

Strategic Relations, Executive Board, GSMI

Department: 

Dr. Robert W. Fernandez is a Junior Simons Fellow at Columbia University studying how neural circuits develop in the male C. elegans nervous system. He was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in NJ where he attended community college at Union County College where he majored in Business Administration. He received his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biotechnology at York College, City University of New York. As a former undocumented immigrant for twenty years, mentors played a vital role in navigating his undergraduate and doctoral studies and he believes in pushing it forward. He received his PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale where he mapped neurotransmitter GPCRs in the C. elegans egg-laying circuit. He is the co-founder of Científico Latino, a science organization that works to improve the pipeline of minoritized students in higher education in the sciences. Dr. Fernandez received awards for his work such as the PD Soros Fellowship, selected as one of the 100 inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America, Science Sandbox awardee and featured in Forbes.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

ogoldman-at-rockefeller.edu

Olivia Goldman

She/Her/Hers

Co-founder; Digital Experience Director

Digital Experience, Executive Board, GSMI

Department: 

Olivia is a neuroscientist and graduate student studying in the lab of Neurogenetics & Behavior at Rockefeller University, supervised by Dr. Leslie Vosshall. She co-founded Cientifico Latino in 2016 after realizing how obscure the path to succeeding in STEM graduate school applications is without information and mentorshp. She is passionate about making science accessible to anyone who is curious.

For her doctoral thesis, she investigates contact chemosensation in mosquitoes and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the efficacy of insect repellents, including DEET. Previously, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience & Behavior at Barnard College of Columbia University, and then worked as a research technician in the lab of Nobel prize winner Dr. Eric Kandel.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Melissa A. Cadena

She/Her/Hers

GSMI Program Director

GSMI, Executive Board

Department: 

Melissa is currently a PhD student in the joint Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology Biomedical Engineering program. She is Colombian-American, born and raised in Queens, NY. Melissa completed her B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). Melissa's research focuses on creating a more sophisticated model of neurodevelopment by integrating cortical brain organoids and 3D bioprinting. She is supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Melissa is very involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, educational outreach, and mentorship for underrepresented and marginalized students. With CL, she hopes to continue being involved in these efforts and making STEM inclusive and accessible to all.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

daisy.duan-at-yale.edu

Daisy Duan

She/Her/Hers

GSMI Program Director

Executive Board, GSMI

Department: 

Daisy Duan is a Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry graduate student at Yale University. Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, she is proud to be a first-generation Chinese-American. Having grown up in a multicultural neighborhood for 18 years and eventually moving to Baltimore for college, Daisy felt inclined to share her perspective and coming-of-age experiences with the Johns Hopkins student community. Now pursuing her Ph.D. at Yale, she hopes to promote for greater use of cultural and social wealth within student groups, and help build new cross-cultural experiences throughout graduate school.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Pia Rodriguez

She/Her/Hers

GSEC Executive Co-Director

GSEC, Executive Board

Department: 

Pia is a Cell Biology PhD candidate at Duke University studying glial mitochondrial dynamics in brain development in the laboratory of Dr. Cagla Eroglu. Born in Bolivia to Peruvian parents, Pia grew up undocumented in the US learned the critical importance of mentorship for people like her to access and succeed in STEM. She earned a full scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill despite her undocumented status, which allowed her to pursue her bachelor's degree in biology. During her time at UNC, Pia became a leader in undocumented student advocacy and policy reform, an issue she is still passionate about today. After undergrad, Pia joined the Regenerative Medicine Lab at United Therapeutics in NC, where she was one of the lead researchers to develop a stem cell-based therapy for chronic lung disease. At Duke, Pia is a 2020 PD Soros Fellow, a BioCoRE Scholar, and Co-Chair of Duke's Cell Biology Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Through these efforts and beyond, Pia remains committed to diversifying academic spaces while empowering and mentoring marginalized STEM trainees.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

dcossio1-at-uci.edu

Daniela Cossio

She/Her/Hers

GSEC Executive Co-Director

GSEC, Executive Board

Department: 

I am proud to be first-gen, mexican-american neuroscientist. I received my B.A. in neuroscience from Skidmore College in 2018. I then worked as a research assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina. I've recently finished my first year as a neuroscience PhD student at UC Irvine and I am broadly interested in learning and memory. I am deeply passionate about STEM outreach, increasing diversity in science, and empowering future scientists.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

slabra-at-scripps.edu

Sergio R. Labra

He/Him/His

GSEC Executive Co-Director

GSEC

Department: 

Sergio is a neuroscience and chemical biology PhD candidate at the Scripps Research Institute working on Alzheimer's disease cerebral organoid models and treatments. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies in 2018, he earned a B.S.E. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and a Master of Biotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania. As a naturalized immigrant, born and raised in Mexico, Sergio is committed to his community support efforts; leading numerous Latinx pre-professional organizations and mentorship programs at Penn, co-founding his current institution's Scientific Diversity Association, and co-developing the GSEC program at Científico Latino. Sergio strives to continue these, and future efforts synergizing mentorship, community outreach, and advocacy to assist and empower present and future generations of underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

valerie.tornini-at-yale.edu

Valerie Tornini, PhD

She/Her/Hers

GSEC Executive Co-Director

GSEC

Department: 

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at Yale School of Medicine. I am a developmental biologist who investigates how chromatin modifiers and another category of underexplored proteins, called micropeptides, shape the gene networks that specify and specialize vertebrate cells, with implications for the evolution of cell states and developmental disorders. I look forward to establishing my independent research lab as a tenure-track faculty member within the next year. Please visit valerietornini.com for more information!

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Nandan G. Pandit, PhD

He/Him/His

Consulting Program Founder/Director

Consulting Mentorship Program

Department: 

Nandan is passionate about improving equity by increasing access to professional opportunities such as consulting and biotech scientist roles. He believes these careers can provide an economic ladder to all people while simultaneously making a meaningful impact on science and medicine. He finished his undergraduate education at University of Connecticut and his PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry in the lab of Enrique De La Cruz at Yale University. After pursuing a career commercializing life science tools and precision medicine, Nandan plans to teach high school students.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

atornes-at-umich.edu

Aníbal Tornés Blanco

He/Him/His

Strategic Relations; Data Analysis

Strategic Relations, Executive Board, GSMI

Department: 

Anibal is a rising second year PhD student at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in the Biological Chemistry program working in Mechanisms of Epigenetic Regulation with Dr.Kaushik Ragunathan. He was born in La Habana, Cuba and migrated short after to Puerto Rico where he pursued his B.S. in Integrative Biology at the University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras. During outreach events he realized that as he answered questions for students and elders in his community, more questions than answers emerged. This led him to look for answers directly with the scientists generating them and he became involved with the NIH - RISE program at his home institution. There he learned about diverse research programs which allowed him to work with biomedical informatics, structural biology and even launch an experiment in a NASA rocket! Such vast experiences gave him purpose to become a mentor and part of the Cientifico Latino team to streamline the PhD pathway for diverse generations of scientists to come.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Carlos Rico Ph.D.

He/Him/His

Lead Outreach & Workshop Coordinator; GSMI Data Analysis Director

GSMI, Executive Board

Department: 

Carlos graduated from Hamilton College in 2010 where he majored in chemical physics. For graduate studies, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Sakmar at the Rockefeller University as part of the tri-institutional training program in chemical biology. To support his research efforts, Carlos was awarded the NSF graduate research fellowship in 2012. He received his Ph.D. in 2017 where he employed single molecule methods to interrogate receptor-ligand binding interactions. He then joined the bio-imaging resource center at the Rockefeller University where he taught other scientists how to operate various light microscopes. He is currently a medical student at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

lgarciabayona-at-uchicago.edu

Leonor García-Bayona, Ph.D.

Strategic Relations & Executive Board

Strategic Relations, Executive Board, GSMI

Department: 

Leonor is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Laurie Comstock at the University of Chicago. She grew up in Bogota, Colombia and completed her Chemical Engineering and Microbiology undergraduate studies at the University of the Andes. During her doctoral work in the lab of Michael Laub at MIT, she acquired a strong background in bacterial genetics, physiology, genomics and interbacterial antagonism. Her current work aims to understand how pervasive horizontal gene flow in the human intestinal microbiota shapes interbacterial interactions in this community and determines ecosystem properties relevant to human health. How does the newly acquired gene repertoire incorporate into the recipient cell’s physiology? How can the dynamics of horizontal gene transfer be a driver of the ecology and evolution of the population? Leonor is deeply committed to facilitating equitable access for all to STEM, as a key factor for deeply needed social progress, and for the intrinsic value that people from minoritized demographics bring to the science enterprise.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Yessica Santana Agreda

She/Her/Hers

Executive Board Member; Fellowship Reviewer

GSMI, Executive Board

Department: 

Yessica Santana Agreda is a Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) studying cell fate determination using the mammalian retina as a model system. Yessica is originally from Los Angeles, CA, and completed a Bachelor's Degree in Global Studies at UC Santa Barbara in 2017. During undergrad, she began research in educational psychology developing coding and online organic chemistry curricula, and then pivoted to cognitive neuroscience where she trained as an fMRI technician to study neural correlates of human behavior. Yessica went on to complete her first post-bacc in Neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh studying retino-cortical circuitry and her second neuroscience post-bacc at OHSU. Being a first-generation Guatemalan-Mexican American, Yessica is passionate about creating equity in science research and creating the skillset to maximize one's graduate training.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

dennisha_king-at-urmc.rochester.edu

Dennisha King

She/Her/Hers

Webinar Coordinator, GSMI

GSMI

Department: 

Dennisha is a second year PhD student in the Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Rochester. She was previously, a neuroscience post-baccalaureate scholar at Oregon Health & Science University. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Dennisha is proud to be a first-generation West Indian American college and graduate student. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Public Health from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, GA. While at Agnes Scott, Dennisha became involved in multiple student organizations focusing on mentorship and fostering support networks for underrepresented minority student interested in pursuing STEM careers. She hopes to continue to work to increase visibility for URMs in STEM through STEM community outreach initiatives as well as mentorship opportunities as a part of the Cientifico Latino team.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

adriana.m.schoenhaut-at-vanderbilt.edu

Adriana Schoenhaut

She/Her/Hers

GSMI Scholar Interviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Adriana is a neuroscience PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University researching the neural correlates of multisensory motion perception in non-human primates. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies in 2019, she earned a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester in 2017 and worked as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for 2 years. At Vanderbilt, Adriana has previously served as the Outreach Committee Chair for the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and is currently their Curriculum Committee Chair. As a dual citizen of Argentina and the USA, Adriana aims to increase the representation of Latino/a and other URM individuals within STEM by improving access to PhD programs.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

aeden005-at-fiu.edu

Alexander Eden, M.S.

He/Him/His

Scholar Interviewer

GSMI

Department: 

I am a proud first-generation college graduate of immigrant parents from Central America (El Salvador & Honduras). Currently, I am wrapping up my first year in a Biology Ph.D. program. My research interests lie STEM and Biology education. More specifically, I am interested in the transition from high school into college. I have had several experiences in the world of education, and most recently taught biology in an urban high school in Massachusetts. Teaching reinforced my passion for making a difference, and further cemented by desire to pursue a PhD. When I am not busy learning, I enjoy traveling (have visited 34 states), watching movies, and simply going out to have fun. I am a strong believer in the power of positivity and good vibes, and always make it a mission to spread smiles. To the person reading this, what is something good that has happened to you recently?

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

bwang40-at-stanford.edu

Benjamin Wang, PhD

He/Him/His

Digital Experience co-coordinator

Digital Experience

Department: 

Ben is currently a second-year postdoc in the Microbiology department at Stanford University, where he works in the laboratory of Dr. Denise Monack on the pathogenesis of human-adapted Salmonella. He received his BS from the California Institute of Technology in 2015, and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is 2021. As Ben was raised in a first-generation immigrant household, he has witnessed the challenges that minority groups can face in education and beyond. In turn, Ben is passionate about increasing access to science and has participated in multiple STEM-related outreach programs, including the SIMR (Summer Institute of Medical Research) program at Stanford, which pairs underrepresented high school students with host Stanford labs for summer internships. As he continues to embark upon an academic career, Ben looks forward to mentoring future students from underrepresented backgrounds and be a strong advocate for increased representation and equality in science and higher education.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

rubioperez-at-wisc.edu

Bryan Rubio Perez

He/Him/His, They/Them/Theirs

Community Building Manager

GSEC

Department: 

Bryan is a third year PhD student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His research is in the engineering of plasmonic devices for biosensing. Bryan is interested in making science education at all levels accessible to everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual preferences, or socioeconomic status. As a first generation, low-income, Mexican-American Bryan understands the challenges that historically excluded groups face when pursuing higher education. Through various organizations and independent efforts Bryan has been able to engage with students at all levels by planning seminars, professional development events, community-building events, and STEM educational outreach events for elementary school school-aged students.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

riveraqu-at-msu.edu

Cristina Marie Rivera Quiles

She/Her/Hers

Personal Statement Reviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Cristina is currently a third year Neuroscience PhD candidate at Michigan State University. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she received her BS in biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. Cristina’s research focuses on investigating the role of various neuropeptides in morphine behaviors by using mouse models to gain a better understanding of opioid use disorder. She has received the NSF GRFP and the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship to assist with her research. In addition to her lab work, Cristina is part of her graduate program’s executive committee, has volunteered in multiple outreach committees and programs, and is the incoming graduate student council president. She hopes to promote DEI initiatives at her institution and assist with demystifying the graduate school experience. In her spare time, Cristina enjoys spending time with her dog, playing tennis, and going to the movies.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

salasd-at-umich.edu

Daniel Salas-Escabillas

They/Them/Theirs, He/Him/His

Website Manager

Digital Experience

Department: 

Daniel is a native Pacific Islander of Guam and a Cancer Biology PhD Student at UMich. He studies the role of specialized cells in the progression of Pancreatic Cancer, soon to be the second most deadly cancer as of 2025. Daniel is a PREP Alum and 1st generation College/PhD Student. Overall, he is interested in becoming a PI and having a lab where students from Guam can come and work during the summer for experience. Daniel works to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through a number of initiatives at UMich, his undergrad alma mater as well as national programs. With CL, he hopes to provide underrepresented minorities the resources and opportunities needed to succeed in their chosen fields.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

greciarivera192-at-outlook.com

Grecia Odalis Rivera Palomino

She/Her/Hers

Digital Experience Volunteer

Digital Experience

Department: 

Grecia Rivera is a first-gen student from Peru. She was awarded a full scholarship by the Sweden government to attend Zamorano University (Honduras), where she earned a B.S. in Food Science and Technology. In 2018, she joined Duke University as a researcher, where she worked with Covid-19, 3D organoids and stem cells. Grecia was a GSMI mentee for the cycle 2022 and got accepted into graduate school. Currently, she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus in the department of Microbiology. Her research focuses on how disrupting the interactions between the gastrointestinal tract and bacteria triggers colorectal cancer and IBD. As an underrepresented minority in STEM, she has experienced hardships and lack of opportunities. Therefore, she joined Cientifico Latino to make opportunities available and help other students to thrive in their scientific journey. Grecia loves dancing, running long distances, and hanging out with friends.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

hjyoung177-at-gmail.com

Hannah Young

They/Them/Theirs

Social Media Team

Digital Experience

Department: 

Hannah is a molecular biology PhD student at the University of Utah studying the roles of RNA editing enzymes and RNA sensors in antiviral immunity and autoimmunity. They received their Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in Microbiology. Hannah is passionate about helping students from marginalized backgrounds, especially those with intersecting marginalized identities navigate academia and be successful in graduate school. They are also dedicated to mentoring undergraduate students and advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community in academia. Hannah was a GSMI scholar in 2019 and a GSMI mentor in 2020. Their experience with the GSMI opened up opportunities to join the Social Media Team.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Twitter: -at-HeberILara

Heber Isai Lara

He/Him/His

Lead visual director (graphic design)

Digital Experience

Department: 

Heber was raised by immigrant parents in an Arizonan border-town. Early on, he developed interests in art and the nature around him: taking up sculpting with Play-Doh and bug collecting in his backyard. These interests were further developed in his art and math classes in grade school. Heber studied biochemistry as a first-generational student and earned his bachelor of science in both biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona. His undergraduate research was supported by the NIH funded MARC program and focused on triple-negative breast cancer signaling pathways. This research exposed Heber to immune networks that captured his curiosity. He would soon go onto applying to graduate programs in Immunology bringing him to Seattle, WA. There he now pursues a Ph.D. in immunology at the University of Washington where he is passionate about utilizing the communication of art into the teaching of science.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

jmcadams-at-berkeley.edu

Jasmine McAdams

She/Her/Hers

Resource Coordinator

GSMI

Department: 

Jasmine is a MS/PhD student at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, with a passion for supporting robust and equitable decision-making in climate and energy. Her research interests include developing a better understanding of how climate change will impact the power system and the cascading effects it will have on communities. Prior to ERG, Jasmine was a Senior Program Officer with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners where she developed educational programs and resources for state public utility commissions on issues including transportation electrification, energy justice, nuclear energy, and carbon capture. She also has experience working as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a research technician with the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Jasmine holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

jov221-at-lehigh.edu

Jonathan Valenzuela

He/Him/His

Scholar Interviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Jonathan "Jonny" Valenzuela is a doctoral student in Materials Science and Engineering at Lehigh University. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. After graduation, he served as an AmeriCorps STEM Facilitator from 2018 to 2019, where he worked to inspire and motivate underprivileged students to pursue careers in science and technology. In 2021, Jonny was awarded the GEM Fellowship, which provided him with the opportunity to pursue his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the Materials for Advanced Technology and Sustainability (MATS) Group at Lehigh. His research involves the creation of scalable crystal growth systems for ultra-wide bandgap nitride materials, which has the potential to revolutionize the fields of high-efficiency power electronics. In addition to his research, Jonny is actively involved in various initiatives at Lehigh. He is the Graduate Chair of the DEI Committee and Student Networking Committee at the Materials Science and Engineering Department, and he also serves as the Graduate Chair of Lehigh's Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Through his leadership and commitment to service, Jonny wishes to make advancements in his field while the promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

julio.fierro-at-biochem.utah.edu

Julio Fierro Morales

He/Him/His

Mentor Mentee Relationships Team Leader

GSEC

Department: 

I'm a fourth year Latiné Ph.D student at the University of Utah studying the evolution of cell-substrate adhesions. Outside of research, I'm passionate about EDI related initiatives and science education. When not in lab or at EDI related events, you can find me at concerts, out running on the trials, camping in the mountains or cooking something new.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

kimberlyleon-at-email.arizona.edu

Kimberly Leon

She/Her/Hers

Data Manager

GSEC

Department: 

Hello, my name is Kimberly Leon. I am a PhD student in the Cognition and Neural Systems Psychology PhD Program at the University of Arizona. I earned my bachelor's degree in Psychological science at the University of Arizona. My research interest is bilingual language development. I aspire to bring to light the strengths of bilingual children and provide guidance on how to best aid the development of bilingual children. Ultimately, I hope to utilize my research to directly aid and serve bilingual communities.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

learbrace-at-gmail.com

Lear Brace, PhD

She/Her/Hers

Alumni Relations Manager

GSEC

Department: 

Lear is the Alumni Relations Manager for GSEC. SHe is also a Senior Scientist at OneSkin in San Francisco and has spent the past ten years researching the Biology of Aging. Lear grew up on the East Coast and trained at New England BioLabs and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before joining the late James Mitchell's lab as a PhD student at Harvard University. Family and the realization that you CAN run away from snow brought her to California and a PostDoc at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Brian Kennedy's lab. Mentorship and teaching have always been extremely important, and she was thrilled to find opportunities with Cientifico Latino. Soon, in addition to working at a biotech company, Lear will also teach General Chemistry at a local community college in Oakland CA.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

mariana.rocha-at-emory.edu

Mariana (Mari) Rocha

She/Her/Hers

Personal Statement Reviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Mari is a neuroscience PhD student working in The Grady Trauma Project at Emory University, supervised by Dr. Vasiliki Michopoulos. Mari is from Mexico but was raised in Watsonville, California an agricultural town in the central coast. Mari completed her B.S. in biology at Yale University, followed by a postbac at UC Santa Cruz under the NIH PREP Scholars program. Mari’s research focuses on the physiological impact of traumatic experiences on maternal health in pregnant persons from underresourced and marginalized communities. Beyond research, Mari is part of diversity equity and inclusion efforts at her institution and beyond, and is especially passionate about improving educational access for marginalized students. Mari’s aim as part of Cientifico Latino is to help dismantle educational barriers for aspiring scientists.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

nicholas.cerda-at-pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Nicholas Alexander Cerda

He/Him/His

GSMI Strategic Relations Team Member

GSMI, Strategic Relations

Department: 

Nicholas is a Gene Therapy and Vaccines PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania developing therapeutic mRNAs for use in lipid nanoparticles in the laboratory of Dr. Drew Weissman. He is Mexican American and was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. He got his start in research in the High Scholars Program at the University of Texas Pan American before starting undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology with a concentration in microbiology. Since his start at the University of Texas, he has been avid about helping underrepresented minorities excel in STEM and has been involved in multiple outreach initiatives. He plans to continue these efforts during his graduate studies to continue to foster a welcoming and supportive environment for URM.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

pauljaco-at-seas.upenn.edu

Paul Jacobs

Mentor-Mentee Relations Team

GSEC

Department: 

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Paul is currently a Ph.D. student in the bioengineering program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He studies how to use Magnetic Resonance Imaging as a tool to investigate metabolism in healthy and diseased populations. Before starting graduate school, Paul was introduced to medical imaging while working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota as a Post-Baccalaureate researcher. Paul previously earned his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Drexel University.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

rebekah.gelpi-at-gmail.com

Rebekah Gelpí

She/Her/Hers

Data Team

GSEC

Department: 

I am a cognitive scientist and PhD student at the University of Toronto studying computational models of social learning, supervised by Dr. Daphna Buchsbaum and Dr. Wil Cunningham. Previously, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science at Swarthmore College in 2017. Throughout my academic career, I have been fortunate to mentor several undergraduate students navigating their way through the hidden curriculum of graduate school applications and foster their passion for learning. After learning about the mission of Científico Latino to foster a more equitable and diverse culture in academia in the sciences, I was motivated to get involved and first participated as a mentor for GSMI in 2021. Now, as a member of GSEC’s Data Team, I hope to use my quantitative skills to contribute to the mission of providing mentorship and resources to current and future scientists from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

rocio.saavedrapena1-at-gmail.com

Rocío del Mar Saavedra Peña, PhD

She/Her/Hers

Fellowship Writing Reviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Rocío is a post-doc in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Liberles at Harvard Medical School studying mechanisms of internal sensory neurons. She received her PhD in 2022 from Yale University and is a 2017 NSF-GRFP and For Predoctoral Fellow. She is originally from San Sebastián, Puerto Rico and received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez in 2015.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

sandra.estradagonzalez01-at-utrgv.edu

Sandra "Mariely" Estrada Gonzalez

She/Her/Hers

Community Engagement Coordinator

GSMI

Department: 

I am a second-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at UTRGV. My research centers on adapting and developing interventions that are evidence-based, transportable, culturally informed, and effectively implemented in various community settings that benefit individuals with immigrant and linguistic minority backgrounds. I am particularly interested in developing these interventions for survivors of violence (e.g., domestic violence, human trafficking). Outside of school and work, I enjoy reading, watching movies, hiking, and playing video games.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

valeria.juarez-at-gatech.edu

Valeria Montserrat Juárez

She/Her/Hers

Marketing Officer

GSEC

Department: 

Valeria is 2nd year PhD student in the joint Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology Biomedical Engineering program. She is Mexican-American, and was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Valeria's research focuses on modelling gut microbiome - lymphoid cell interactions using biomaterials, organoids and microfluidics. In 2020, she was recognized as a National GEM Consortium Associate Fellow. Valeria also graduated with highest honors from the UTSA in 2020, earning her Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering. While at UTSA, she was an NIH MARC U*STAR fellow and a College of Engineering Haliburton Ambassador. Valeria continues to be passionate about mentorship, educational outreach and supporting underrepresented and marginalized students in STEM. She aims to inspire, motivate, and train the next generation of successful scientists and engineers and make academia more diverse, equitable and inclusive for all.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

waquinon-at-ku.edu

Wendy C. Aquino Nunez, M.S.

She/Her/Hers

Recruitment Lead

GSEC

Department: 

Wendy is a Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas studying tau aggregation in-vivo using C. elegans. Born in The Dominican Republic, Wendy moved to Puerto Rico as a teen where she attended high school and later pursued a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. After undergrad, Wendy moved to Georgia where she participated in the NIH Bridges to Doctorate Program at Kennesaw State University and completed a master's degree in Integrative Biology. At the start of her Ph.D., Wendy was awarded the University Fellowship and later became an NIH T32- Dynamics Aspects of Chemical Biology grant, fellow. Throughout her career, Wendy has remained passionate about science and creating an inclusive environment for minorities.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

yaelcourtney-at-g.harvard.edu

Ya'el Courtney

She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs

Fellowship Writing Reviewer

GSEC, GSMI, NSF Preparation

Department: 

Ya'el is a fourth year PhD candidate in Neuroscience at Harvard University. She works with Dr. Maria Lehtinen, studying the role of cerebrospinal fluid and the choroid plexus in embryonic brain development. Ya'el applied for the NSF-GRFP as a senior undergraduate, and received an honorable mention. She applied again as a second year PhD candidate and was awarded the fellowship. Since then, she has also been awarded the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship. In addition to bench science, Ya'el is passionate about science education, writing, and mentorship. She works with several organizations as an application consultant as well as a scientific writer. She has worked with Cientifico Latino over several years as a GSMI mentor, a GSEC mentor, and now is ecstatic to help students applying to the NSF-GRFP hone their applications.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

ymolina-at-g.harvard.edu

Yaniris Molina Aponte

She/Her/Hers

GSMI Scholar Interviewer

GSMI

Department: 

Yaniris Molina Aponte works as a research technologist and lab manager at Johns Hopkins University. In August 2023, she will start graduate school as an immunology PhD student at Harvard University. She will be supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Yaniris graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, with a double major in Biology and Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry. She is passionate about science outreach and mentorship of historically marginalized students. She has worked with science outreach programs like the Puerto Rico Science Heroes, where she organized fun STEM experiments for children from underserved communities. Yaniris also collaborated with PROUD, an HHMI funded program at UPR-Humacao, to support first-generation students in STEM. As a member of Cientifico Latino, she aims to give back to her community with the goal of increasing the number of LatinX and Hispanic students pursuing graduate school in the US.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

yanitza_rodriguez-at-brown.edu

Yanitza Rodriguez, PhD

She/Her/Hers

GradSchool 101 Workshops Coordinator

GSEC

Department: 

I am interested in studying the molecular interactions of biomolecules that constitute a wide range of cellular and functional processes to develop therapeutic agents for various diseases. Apart from my commitment to Science, I am also committed to our community of diverse intellectual students where my goal is to help others achieve their dreams.

Olivia Goldman_headshot - Olivia Goldman

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, PhD

Advisor, Executive Director of CienciaPR

Faculty Advisor

Department: 

Español: La Dra. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina es Directora Ejecutiva de Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) y Directora de la Iniciativa Yale Ciencia, en Yale University. A través de estos puestos, la Dra. Guerrero-Medina desarrolla y estudia programas que amplían la participación en la educación y las carreras STEM. Bajo su liderazgo, CienciaPR se ha convertido en una de las comunidades de científicos hispanos más grandes del mundo, ha obtenido fondos federales y de fundaciones para apoyar la diversidad en la educación científica y el desarrollo profesional de científicos, y en 2015 recibió el reconocimiento como “Estrella” en la educación científica de hispanos por parte de la Casa Blanca. La Dra. Guerrero-Medina es investigadora principal de la Academia Yale Ciencia, con fondos del NIH, la cual provee oportunidades de desarrollo profesional, divulgación científica y creación de redes a estudiantes graduados a través de los EEUU y Puerto Rico. También dirige el programa Ciencia al Servicio, con fondos del NSF, para promover colaboraciones entre científicos y maestros en el desarrollo de lecciones de ciencia más pertinentes y efectivas. La Dra. Guerrero-Medina ha trabajado como Directora de Política Científica en el Instituto de Investigación Van Andel, como Analista de Políticas de Ciencias de la Salud en los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud, y fue becaria del programa Christine Mirzayan de Política Pública en Ciencia y Tecnología. Tiene un doctorado en biología molecular y celular de la Universidad de California, Berkeley, donde tuvo una beca pre-doctoral Howard Hughes para estudiar el desarrollo de conexiones neuronales a través de sensores de actividad sináptica genéticamente codificados. Obtuvo su B.S. en biología de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

English: Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina is Executive Director of Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) and Director of the Yale Ciencia Initiative at Yale University, positions that allow her to advance programs that broaden participation in science education and careers. Under her leadership, CienciaPR has become one of the largest networked communities of Hispanic scientists in the world, has secured federal and foundation funding to support diversity in science education and career development, and has received recognition as a “Bright Spot” in science education for Hispanics by the Obama White House and as Science Defender by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Guerrero-Medina currently leads the NIH-funded Yale Ciencia Academy, which provides young scientists from diverse backgrounds opportunities for professional development, leadership, and community outreach. She also directs the NSF-funded Ciencia al Servicio program, to promote collaborations between scientists and teachers so that students in Puerto Rico have access to culturally-relevant, engaging and effective science lessons. Dr. Guerrero-Medina’s career spans positions in government, non-profit, and academic settings. She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and was a National Academy of Science and Technology Policy Fellow.

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