In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, faculty from The University of New Mexico—Gabriel López, Maggie Werner-Washburne and Fernando Valenzuela—were recognized by Cell Mentor as three of the 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in America. Cell Mentor is an online resource, providing “early-career life science researchers with career insights, publishing advice, and techniques on experimental processes and procedures.”
The 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists list was created to push back against the common misconception that there are not enough Hispanic or Latinx people to serve as experts on panels and in scientific leadership positions, speak at conferences, and provide insights toward science policy.
Gabriel López is a professor of chemical and biological engineering and the UNM Vice President for Research. He serves on the board of directors for UNM Rainforest Innovations, and he has spent his career supporting and advancing the academic careers of underrepresented students in STEM fields.
He has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, holds 42 U.S. patents, and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. López has also served as mentor and advisor to over 180 undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.
Maggie Werner-Washburne is a retired Regent’s professor in the Department of Biology, and her expertise is in molecular genetics. She is also a AAAS Fellow and the former president of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
Her contributions to UNM include numerous grant awards and publications, and currently, she serves as the Director and CEO of STEM Boomerang, providing connections between STEM professionals, companies, and colleges in New Mexico. She has received numerous awards in her career, including the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award.
Fernando Valenzuela is a Regents' professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the UNM School of Medicine. His research is focused on the neurobiology of alcoholism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Among his many achievements, his team has made significant strides in contributions to the knowledge base of alcohol disorders, particularly the effect of ethanol on specific types of brain cells and how this contributes to the behavioral effects of alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, and addiction. In 2013, he was awarded the Khatali Teaching Award from the School of Medicine.
Cell Mentor says of the selections, “This list—selected based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—represents only a subset of the scientific role models in the community.”
Additionally, four individuals with ties to UNM were also recognized on this list, including Professors Pam Padilla, Anita Quintana, and Dr. Jacqueline De Lora, all UNM alumni, and Prof. Mario Izaguirre-Sierra, who has been a regular visiting scholar at UNM. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, UNM is proud to be home to the many Hispanic and Latinx students, staff, and faculty that continue to positively contribute to our diverse community.
This list was crafted by a team of scholars from across the country including the author of the post, Christina Termini, also a UNM alumna.
“Being named to this list is a great personal honor,” said López. “But more importantly, the impressive showing of UNM affiliates on the list demonstrates that UNM is a powerhouse in providing Hispanic/Latinx human resources to the nation’s STEM enterprises.”