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CienciaPR gets $1.6M grant to develop science experts

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, executive director of CienciaPR, videochats with students at the UPR Mayagüez.

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, executive director of CienciaPR, videochats with students at the UPR Mayagüez.

Nonprofit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico has received a $1.6 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish, in collaboration with Yale University, an innovative program to transform the training of young scientists on the island and stateside.

The program, known as the Yale Ciencia Academy, leverages the CienciaPR community —the world’s most extensive network Puerto Rican scientists — to connect to doctoral students in disciplines related to the life, health, behavioral and psychological sciences with advisors, mentors and professional development opportunities, said Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, executive director of CienciaPR.

Through workshops and online conversations with successful scientists, participants will explore different career paths, define their academic and career goals, expand their networks, and acquire new communication and leadership skills, she said, who is leading the project.

“The program will also help students contribute to society through science outreach within and outside of Puerto Rico. In addition, selected students will be able to attend the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific organization,” she said.

The program responds to the need of young scientists to better orient themselves about career opportunities and how to be more competitive within and outside of academia, Guerrero-Medina said.

“Latinos and individuals from other groups underrepresented in science often do not have access to large professional and mentoring networks that can support them in accelerating their careers,” she said.

“Through this program, we will be taking advantage of the wealth of talent and experience we have within CienciaPR to ensure that students are better prepared to achieve their goals and to have an impact on society,” Guerrero-Medina said.

Interested students should submit an application by the Dec. 5 deadline established by Yale Ciencia Academy organizers. Some 40 students will be selected to participate in the first round of training starting in January, she said.

“Over the last 10 years we have used the CienciaPR network to connect to the Puerto Rican scientific community and diaspora and in this way help boost the careers of Puerto Ricans in science and technology,” said Mónica Feliú-Mójer, vice-director of CienciaPR and coordinator of the Yale Ciencia Academy.

“The NIH recognized the value of our strategy to have a broader impact at the national level, and help diversify the scientific workforce in the United States. We expect this program to foster the next generation of Hispanic leaders in science,” she said.

This is the latest in a string of recognitions CienciaPR has received over the years. In 2014, Puerto Rico’s principal scientific organization established a strategic alliance with Yale to leverage the network in order to promote increased science outreach, education, and participation for Latinos and other minorities.

Earlier this year, CienciaPR was twice recognized by the White House, first as a Bright Spot in Hispanic education and later for its commitment to develop a bilingual online resource to help inform Hispanic students about careers in science, entity executives said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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