By Annette Pinder
It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month, and a great time to honor the following individuals for their contributions to medicine and science. I encourage you to learn more about each of these remarkable people.
- Mario Molina is a Mexican scientist and chemist who, in 1995, won a Nobel Prize for research on how man-made compounds affect the ozone layer. Molina received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013.
- Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías, the first Latina president of the American Health Association, founded the first center for newborns in Puerto Rico, and was Director of Pediatrics at Lincoln Hospital in New York. She also led the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she highlighted the devastation caused by AIDS and HIV, and was a founding member of the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse.
- Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski was the youngest person to build an airplane, certify it airworthy, and conduct the first flight in that same aircraft. She studied physics at MIT, and in 2015, completed a research paper on electromagnetic memory which Stephen Hawking cited in his research published in 2016.
- Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, a world-renowned researcher and neurosurgeon, runs the research lab at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He and his team have published more than 150 scientific studies on the development of brain cancer. He leads the National Institutes of Health initiative to find a cure for brain cancer and developed game-changing minimally invasive neurosurgical techniques using nanotechnology.
- César Milstein is a Nobel Prize winning biochemist who helped develop a technique for unlimited production of monoclonal antibodies for treating autoimmune diseases.
- Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a Guatemalan researcher and biologist, studies effects of climate change on sea levels and vulnerable populations in southeastern U.S. coastal areas. She also founded the Moms Clean Air Force to engage moms to help stop air pollution and global warming.
- Pedro A. Sanchez helped improve soil quality and boost food production in developing countries. As a result, 15 million people no longer starve to death in poor countries.
- Dr. Frances Colón led the Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas, and in 2015 chaired the UN Commission on Science and Technology. A pioneer in neuroscience and sustainability, she advocates for women and girls wanting to pursue careers in science.
- Ynes Mexia is a Mexican-American botanist who discovered two new plant genera and 500 new plant species. Today, 50 plant species are named after her.
- Ellen Ochoa was a research engineer and inventor who created optical systems for aerospace missions, and was the first woman Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from 2013 to 2018.
- Jaime Escalante was a math educator and professor who fought for Hispanic students’ rights to an education. He taught advanced math to youth in East Los Angeles, California, and received the Presidential Medal for Excellence. The film Stand and Deliver chronicles his life.