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‘Boost Grant’ program launched to support students, researchers

A trio of nonprofits — the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, AAAS Caribbean and Ciencia Puerto Rico — have joined forces to launch the “Boost Grant,” aimed at giving continuity to the “Post Hurricane María Aid for Researchers” program.

The funds — broken down into 24, $1,000 grants — will go to support graduate and postdoctoral students whose projects were affected by the hurricane. Among the recipients is the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Mayagüez and Medical Sciences campuses, as well as the Universidad Central del Caribe, Ponce Health Sciences University and the Ana G. Méndez University in Gurabo.

“In Puerto Rico we have immense talent and the ability to contribute our bit is very significant. The Science Trust’s Research Grants program is the only local funding mechanism for science and technology research projects,” said Andreica Maldonado, manager of the Science Trust’s research grants program.

“The fact that AAAS gave us these funds to help students has been of great impact. We have students who would not have been able to complete their projects if it were not for the grant they received,” she said.

“Launching a second round of funds reminds us of the great impact that the disaster had on the scientific community of Puerto Rico. We are in hurricane season and it is time to reflect and evaluate what measures universities and research institutes are taking to ensure the continuity of scientific projects on the island,” she added.

In October 2017, the Caribbean Division of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science,) the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and Ciencia Puerto Rico formed an alliance to offer a funding program to support researchers, teachers, and science students, following the emergencies provoked by Hurricanes Irma and María.

“Researchers are essential players in the Science Trust’s mission to invest, facilitate and develop capabilities to continuously boost the economy of Puerto Rico and the welfare of its citizens. Supporting researchers in all their stages of training is essential to retain them once their research and university studies are completed,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.

The fundraising initiative helped scientists continue their studies, projects and restore their laboratories.

To date, 69 grants have been awarded for a total of more than $100,000 in funding in the categories of continuity, restoration and subsidies.

“After the onslaught of the storm, it is the new sprouts that restore the vitality of an ecosystem. Thanks to these collective efforts together with CienciaPR, the Science Trust and the support of AAAS and its members, we managed to make this contribution so that our young researchers are full of vigor and energy to promote scientific work in Puerto Rico toward the future,” said Juan S. Ramírez-Lugo, president of the Caribbean Division of AAAS.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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