September 15th through October 15th marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time of year where we honor the achievements, contributions, and influence of Hispanic Americans to the world. Here at STEMscopes we want to recognize some of the lesser known Hispanic pioneers in various STEM fields. Some you may know; some may be brand new to you.
Born September 11, 1913 in Caracas, Venezuela, Jacinto Convit would grow to become a world renowned physician and scientist. He is best known for his breakthrough achievement in creating a vaccine for leprosy and further studies in finding a cure for cancer. In recognition of his work, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in Science in 1988. Convit lived a long and full life, continuing his research and published his studies up until he died at age 100 in 2014.
Mario Molina grew up in Mexico City, where as a child he converted a bathroom into his own little laboratory, using toy microscopes and chemistry sets. He would go on to earn his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. As a postdoctoral researcher Molina co-authored a paper highlighting the threat of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases to the ozone layer in the stratosphere. This research played a pivotal role in the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. It was this discovery that led him to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.
Born to a Mexican family in Los Angeles, California, Ellen Ochoa earned a master’s in engineering from Stanford University and eventually become the first Hispanic woman in space while serving a nine-day mission on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993. Ultimately she took part in a total of four different space flights and logged nearly 1000 hours in space. After retiring from space missions, Ochoa served as the first Hispanic director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. She is a recipient of NASA's Distinguished Service Medal and a member of both the International Air and Space Hall of Fame and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Alberto Pedro Calderón
Alberto Pedro Calderón was born on September 14, 1920, in Mendoza, Argentina, and is best known for his work as a mathematician and professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Buenos Aires. His greatest achievement in the field of mathematics is the development of the theory of singular integral operators, a major contribution to mathematical analysis and algebra.