We have reached the end of Latinx Heritage Month. Of course this does not mean we should stop celebrating Latinx cultures and people. The way our history has been whitewashed contributes to the erasure of the history and contributions of many black, indigenous, and people of color. We should constantly be celebrating and uplifting BIPOC as we are underrepresented and our contributions are often downplayed. In this week’s article, I would like to introduce two intelligent and revolutionary Latinx figures in STEM, because we deserve to take up space in every field there is.
1. Scarlin Hernandez
Scarlin Hernadez is a Dominican Spacecraft engineer for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission, which is set to launch in 2021. She works on developing codes and procedures for this telescope mission and will be in control when it is launched into space. Hernandez is originally from the Dominican Republic, but she moved to Brooklyn, New York at the age of four. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, she found a passion for astronautical engineering. Along with her work as a spacecraft engineer, she spends her time tutoring younger interns. Hernandez established a women’s empowerment program that teaches women to speak their minds and empower each other. In an interview with NASA, Hernandez shares: “I wanna be able to motivate people and tell them they can do it. They can go after their dream. Sometimes they have to see that one person who kind of fought all the odds.”
2. Mario J. Molina
Mario J. Molina was a revolutionary chemist whose discoveries significantly helped humanity. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, from a young age Molina found himself fascinated with the sciences, spending his time with chemistry sets and conducting experiments. He studied chemical engineering at National Autonomous University of Mexico, in preparation to become a physical chemist. In 1968, he prepared to go to UC Berkeley to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry. Molina conducted research on the distribution of internal energy in the products of chemical and photochemical reactions using lasers to aid his study. After achieving his doctorate, he moved his work to the University of California, Irvine, where he joined a research group alongside F. Sherwood Rowland and studied chlorofluorocarbons’ destruction inducing effects on the Earth’s ozone layer. This CFC-ozone depletion theory caught everyone’s attention and concern, as the ozone layer is what is protecting us from the sun’s harmful rays. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. Molina passed away recently, on October 7, 2020. Although he is no longer with us, his contributions to the field of science live on.
Latinx people are revolutionizing the STEM field, along with other professional fields like law, music, politics, mathematics, medicine and healthcare. Although we may face adversity, our achievements pave the way for our Latinx brothers and sisters. No matter who you are, remember you deserve to take up space, shine, and succeed!