Definitions

Scientists and inventors

Puerto Rican scientists and inventors

The discoveries and contributions which have been made by Puerto Rican scientists and inventors in their respective fields have impacted the way of life of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, and in many cases society in general.

Hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus and the Conquistadors landed on the island of Borinquen (Puerto Rico), the Tainos who inhabited the island depended on their astronomical observations for the cultivation of their crops.

In 1581, Juan Ponce de León II, the grandson of Juan Ponce de Leon, studied an eclipse and it's effects on the island and was able to establish the exact geographical coordinates of San Juan with his observations.

In the 19th century, scientists such as Dr. Agustín Stahl, Fermín Tangüis and Fernando López Tuero conducted investigations and experiments in the fields of agriculture, botany, ethnology and zoology. With the advances in medical technologies and the coming of the Space Age of the 20th century, Puerto Ricans have expanded their horizons and have made many contributions in various scientific fields, among them the fields of aerospace and medicine.

There are many Puerto Rican scientists involved in the American space program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to an article written by Margarita Santori Lopez for the official newspaper of the University of Puerto Rico's Mayaguez Campus, "Prensa RUM", as of 2003, of the 114 Hispanics working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, 70 were Puerto Ricans or of Puerto Rican descent. According to a research conducted during the period of 1990 to 1998 by Puerto Rican scientists in science and technology, Puerto Rican scientific production was greater than in any other Caribbean country and the sixth largest in all of Latin America.

The following is a list of some of Puerto Rico's notable scientists and inventors with a short profile that includes the scientific contributions, inventions and achievements in their respective fields.

Pre-Columbian era

According to Archeologist Osvaldo García Goyco, the Tainos who inhabited the Tibes area located near in what is now the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, needed to know the seasons by observing the stars and their movements in order to properly cultivate the crops on which their survival depended. García Goyco stated that "there is evidence that some of the plazas are orientated in relation to the equinox and solstice of the four seasons of the year"... "this makes the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center the oldest astronomical observatory in the Antilles"

Aerospace

Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space. Aerospace is a very diverse field, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications.

Dr. Roberto Alemán is an electronics engineer and Aero-Space Technologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. As Environmental Instruments Director he directs everything that is related to the environmental instruments which the United States provides to the European Space Agency in order to operate the MetOp, a European satellite that provides environmental information to both Europe and the United States. ---- Adán Rodríguez-Arroyo is an electronics engineer and Aero-Space Technologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Rodríguez-Arroyo is the Communications System Lead Engineer for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Mission, to be launched in 2008. He was in charge of the design of the communications systems of the "Global Precipitation Measurement” satellite.


Anthony M. Busquets is an electronics engineer and Aero-Space Technologist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He is involved in the development and application of multifunction control/display switch technology in 1983 and Development and application of a microprocessor-based I/O system for simulator use in 1984. He is the author and or co-author of over 13 conference papers and NASA formal publications in the areas of cockpit controls and displays, use of stereoscopy in flight displays and pictorial flight displays for situation awareness enhancement.
Dr. Juan R. Cruz is an aerospace engineer and Aero Space Technologist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia

Dr. Cruz is a senior aerospace engineer in the Exploration Systems Engineering Branch at the NASA Langley Research Center. His responsibilities are focused on research and development of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) systems for robotic and human exploration missions. He was a member of the highly successful Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project that placed two rovers on the surface of Mars in 2004. His contributions to the MER project were centered on the design and qualification of the supersonic parachute.

Dr. Cruz is also a member of the Phoenix (Mars 2007), Mars Science Laboratory (Mars 2009), and Crew Exploration Vehicle EDL teams. He has undertaken research on advanced missions to Mars, including robotic airplanes, as well as having been a technical reviewer for the Genesis, Huygens, and Stardust missions. Prior to his involvement with exploration programs he conducted research on high-altitude unmanned aircraft.

Dr. Cruz holds a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, and an S.B. from MIT, both in aerospace engineering. During his years at MIT he was involved with the Monarch and Daedalus human powered airplane teams.


Dr. Orlando Figueroa is a mechanical engineer, Aero-Space Technologist and the Director of Solar System Exploration Division and Mars Exploration at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Dr. Figueroa headed the cryogenic technology section, played a key role on the Cosmic Background Explorer mission, and managed a Space Shuttle Helium on Orbit Mission. Manager for the Small Explorers (SMEX) project, manager for the Explorers Program, and Director of Systems Technology and Advanced Concept Directorate. On August 1, 2004, was named Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs. In 2002, Dr. Figueroa named by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the nation's 100 Most Influential Hispanics.


Olga D. González-Sanabria is a scientist and inventor. She is the highest ranking Hispanic at NASA Glenn Research Center, and a member of the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. González-Sanabria, Director of the Engineering and Technical Services, is responsible for planning and directing a full range of integrated services including engineering, fabrication, testing, facility management and aircraft services for the Glenn Research Center. She played an instrumental role in the development of the "Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries" which helps enable the International Space Station power system.

Among the technical reports which she has authored and or co-authored are:

  • Effect of NASA advanced designs on thermal behavior of Ni-H2 cells (1987)
  • Component variations and their effects on bipolar nickel-hydrogen cell performance (1987)
  • NASA Aerospace Flight Battery Systems Program - Issues and actions (1988)
  • Effect of NASA advanced designs on thermal behavior of Ni-H2 cells 2 (1988)
  • Energy storage considerations for a robotic Mars surface sampler (1989)

Amri Hernandez-Pellerano is an electronics engineer and scientist who designs, builds and tests the electronics that will regulate the solar array power in order to charge the spacecraft battery and distribute power to the different loads or users inside various spacecraft at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. She designed the power systems electronics for the WMAP mission. WMAP is a NASA Explorer mission satellite which measures the temperature of the cosmic background radiation over the full sky with unprecedented accuracy.
María C. Lecha is an electronics engineer and Aero-Space Technologist at NASA Goddard Space Center in charge of a group of engineers who are in the process of developing the “Solar Dynamic Observatory” which will be launched into outer space in 2008.
Dr. Carlos Ortiz Longo is the Constellation Program Division System Manager for the Structural Engineering Division at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He is responsible for integrating Constellation Program items related to structures, mechanics, materials, and thermal. Formerly the manager of the Crew Health Care System and Exercise Countermeasures for NASA's Johnson Space Center. He began his career at NASA working on the Space Shuttle thermal protection system or TPS (the tiles) before transitioning into the ISS program, and was a semi-finalist astronaut candidate on the group 16 selection.
Mercedes Reaves is a research engineer and scientist. She is responsible for the design of a viable full-scale solar sail and the development and testing of a scale model solar sail at NASA Langley Research Center. She must select and apply tools to analyze complex thin film structures characterized by wrinkling, geometric and material nonlinear behavior. She is also responsible for planning experimental studies to validate analytical techniques and study solar sails dynamics.
Dr. Miriam Rodon-Naveira is a scientist and the first Hispanic woman to hold the Deputy Directorship for the Environmental Sciences Division within the National Exposure Research Laboratory. She is responsible for developing, coordinating and maintaining research and educational activities in support of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center mission. She holds a doctorate in Biology-Aquatic Microbial Ecology.
Otilia I. Rodriguez-Alvarez is an electrical engineer, Aero-Space Technologist and Solar B Mission Manager/Geospace Instrument Systems Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ms. Rodriguez-Alvarez began her career with NASA in 1986 at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, where she served as a test engineer with the Space Simulation Test Engineering Section. She then transferred to the Guidance, Navigation, and Control Branch, where she worked on solar array and antenna systems for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the X-Ray Timing Explorer (XTE). She later became the lead engineer for the Sensors and Actuators Team on the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP).

After leaving the Engineering Directorate, she became the Instrument Manager for the Advance Baseline Imager for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Program. Currently she is the Solar B Mission Manager and the Geospace Instrument Systems Manager in the Sun Earth Connection Office.


Dr. Pedro Rodriguez (son of the late Pellin Rodriguez) is a scientist, inventor, mechanical engineer, Aero-Space Technologist and the Director of a test laboratory at NASA. He invented a portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis. Dr. Rodriguez was the leader of the Solid Rocket Booster accident investigation team following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in February 2003 and was also the project manager for the Space Launch Initiative program. Rodriguez is currently the Director of the test laboratory in the Engineering Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. He is responsible for the engineering services and facilities for environmental, structural, and propulsion testing of NASA programs assigned to the Marshall Space Flight Center. Among his duties are: research, development, qualification, and acceptance testing of critical space and flight hardware, as well as the testing of relevant development hardware.
Carlos A. Gómez Rosa is an electronics engineer and project director of the EDOS Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

As director of NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Operations System Project, also known by its initials as "EDOS", Gómez Rosa's responsibilities include receiving, processing and distributing the data obtained from five satellites whose function is to study the Earth. Those satellites are "EO-1", "Terra", "Aqua", "ICESat" and "Aura".

EDOS has installations in Norway, Alaska, Wallops Island, Virginia and New Mexico that collect the telemetry from the different the spacecrafts. The data is transmitted and received at the Goddard Space Center where under the direction of Gomez Rosa, it is processed and sent to various data centers and scientific groups in the United States, Japan, England, and Holland.


Dr. Felix Soto Toro is a scientist, astronaut applicant and an electrical designs engineer in NASA, who developed the Advanced Payload Transfer Measurement System (ASPTMS)(Electronic 3D measuring system).

At the Kennedy Space Center, Dr. Soto reviews, designs, builds, tests and implements engineering designs used in the Space Shuttle and Payload Operations Development Laboratories. The main project he developed was the Advanced Payload Transfer Measurement System (ASPTMS)(Electronic 3D measuring system), which consists of a simplified, robust, centrally operated and portable system that automatically measures the spherical coordinates offset between the trunnion and their supports during transfer operations. This system has the potential to become a NASA project with commercial applications. Dr. Soto earned his Doctorate of Philosophy Degree in Electrical Engineering and has applied to become an astronaut candidate.


Juan A. Román Velázquez is a mechanical engineer, Aero-Space Technologist and Space projects formulation Manager at NASA Goddard Space Center. Román Velázquez is in charge of a group of scientists and engineers who are the developers of the advanced concepts usded in the Space missions and whose technologies are to be used in telescopes and interferometry missions.

Aerospace physiology

Aerospace physiology refers to effects on the human body caused by characteristics of the aerospace environment.

Dr. Edwin Muñiz M.D., Ph.D. and Ed.D., was the first person of Hispanic heritage to be named Aerospace Physiologist in the United States Air Force and NASA.

Dr. Muñiz had worked in field of clinical hemodialysisfor five years before he served in the Puerto Rico National Guard as a member of a field medical hospital unit. In 1978, he earned his BA degree in Natural Sciences/Mathematics/Physics from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey and in 1979 an Master of Arts in Aviation Psychology from Antioch University in San Francisco.

Dr. Muñiz, flew the back seat of an F-16 A-1 conducting cardiovascular research on the fighter pilots. He became an official trainer in NASA in capacity of Aerospace Physiologist. As an Aerospace Physiologist for NASA, his responsibilities included training pilots and astronaut candidates on the hazards of air and space flight. His activities under this capacity included doing research in the cardiovascular field studying the effects of gravity and Speed & Acceleration on the pilots cardiovascular system. In 1986, he earned a Ph.D. in Bioastronautics and Astrobiology from the International Institute for Advanced Studies.

He was certified as an Aircraft Accident Investigator and Human Factors Specialist by the School of Systems Management at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles thus becoming the first Hispanic Aerospace Physiologist in the United States Air Force. In 1989, he earned his second Ph.D. degree, this time in Aerospace Physiology, from Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia.

Agriculture

Coffee industry

In the 1860's the Mariani family of Yauco created a machine out of a cotton gin which was used in the dehusking of coffee. This represented a significant improvement in Puerto Rico's coffee appearance and an opportunity to stand out in the international coffee market.

Cotton industry

Fermín Tangüis (1851 - 1930), was a Puerto Rican businessman, agriculturist and scientist who in 1901 developed the seed that would eventually produce the Tanguis cotton in Peru when that nation's cotton industry suffered because of a fungus plague caused by a plant disease known some places as "cotton wilt" and in others as "Fusarium wilt" (Fusarium vasinfectum) saving that nation's cotton industry..

Tangüis began to study some species of the plant that were affected by the disease to a lesser extent and experimented in germination with the seeds of various cotton plants. In 1911, after 10 years of experimenting and failures, Tangüis was able to develop a seed which produced a superior cotton plant resistant to the disease. The seeds produced a plant that had a 40% longer (between 29 mm and 33 mm) and thicker fiber that did not break easily and required little water. The cotton grown in Peru (Egyptian cotton) before the fungus plague grew only once a year; the Tangüis cotton grows six times a year. This type of fiber showed a better resistance and performance than other fibers.

Tangüis cotton grows in Canete’s valley (south of Lima) and in the Central Coast of Peru. The success of the Tangüis cotton, which is also known in Peru as "Oro Blanco" (White Gold), saved the cotton industry of that nation.

Coconut industry

Ramón López Irizarry (1897 - 1982) was an educator and scientist who invented an easier way to extract the cream from the coconut pulp.

In 1949, Lopez-Irizarry, with the use of some of these funds, was able to work in his laboratory on an idea that he had. Lopez-Irizarry set out to find an easier way to extract the cream from the coconut pulp. The heart of the coconut has always been an important ingredient in many of the desserts in Puerto Rico. The main problem was extracting the coconut cream from the pulp which was a difficult task. Lopez-Irizarry discovered an easier way by blending the cream from the hearts of the Caribbean coconuts with an exact proportion of natural cane sugar. He named the product which he developed "Coco Lopez".

Sugar industry

Fernando López Tuero, was an agricultural scientist and agronomist who saved the sugar industry of Puerto Rico when he discovered the bug (believed at first to be a germ) which was destroying the island's sugar canes.

In the latter part of the 19th Century, an epidemic was affecting the agricultural industry of Puerto Rico. Among the crops affected was the sugar cane, whose main product "sugar" was vital to Puerto Rico's economy.

The Spanish colonial government, created an emergency commission composed of scientists, which included Dr. Agustín Stahl and Fernando López Tuero, to study the situation. Dr. Agustín Stahl concluded that the epidemic was caused by a "germ" in the terrain, however his findings were inconclusive. In 1894, Fernando López Tuero, who was the head agronomist of the Agronomical Station of Río Piedras, discovered that the cause of the epidemic was the white grub (Phyllophaga).

The Phyllophaga is a very large genus (more than 260 species) of New World scarab beetles in the subfamily Melolonthinae. These beetles are nocturnal, coming to lights in great numbers. The adults are chafers, feeding on foliage of trees and shrubs. They may cause significant damage when emerging in large numbers. The larvae (called white grubs) feed on the roots of grasses and other plants.

Archaeology

Archaeology is the science that studies human cultures through the recovery, documentation, analysis, and interpretation of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, features, biofacts, and landscapes.

Dr. Ricardo Alegría is a scholar, cultural anthropologist and archeologist known as the "Father of Modern Puerto Rican Archaeology".

Dr. Alegría is credited with being a pioneer in the anthropology of the Taino culture and the African heritage in Puerto Rico. His extensive studies have helped historians to understand how the Taínos lived and suffered, before and after the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in the island. Alegría estimated that about one third of all Puerto Ricans (2 million out of 6 million) have Taíno blood and therefore the Taínos where not completely extinct and some had to survive. Recently, the results of recent DNA studies have proved him right.


Dr. Osvaldo Garcia Goyco is an archaeologist, sociocultural anthropologist, ethnologist and Curator of Achaeological Collections.

Dr. Garcia Goyco has conducted numerous scientific investigations in the Iconography, Cosmology, Mythology, Shamanism and Religion of the Indians of the West Indies (Taino) and the Orinoco and Amazon Basins. He has also investigated the Mesoamerican Religions and Codex Epigraphy (Aztec and Mixteca Puebla Region); the Cultural Ecology of the Circumcaribbean and Orinoco-Amazon Basin and the Archaeology of Circum-Caribbean Indigenous Cultures and Sugarcane Slave Plantations.

Dr. Garcia Goyco is the principal investigator of "Paso del Indio Inc." (Archaeology, Anthropology & Museum Consultants). He is responsible for the administration of a 120 persons field and field laboratory archaeological team. Unearthed more than 140 human remains.

The archaeological excavations at Paso del Indio in Vega Baja have been the most extensive up to date in Puerto Rico. Dr. García Goyco coordinated multidisciplinary scientific studies with the following institutions: USDA Forest Service, Caribbean National Forest; USDA Forest Service, Southern Region; Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México; University of Puerto Rico; University of Colorado; John Hopkins University; University of Georgia at Athens; Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; University of Florida; Inter American University; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; US Geological Survey; Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office; Institute of Puerto Rican Culture; Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, US Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Astronomy

Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.

Dr. Sixto Gonzalez was the first Puerto Rican to be named Director of the Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest single dish radio telescope.

In 2001, Dr. Gonzalez was named assistant director for space and atmospheric sciences at the telescopic facility. On September 29, 2003, Dr. Gonzalez became the first Puerto Rican to be named Director of the observatory. The appointment was made by Robert Brown, director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC). Dr. Gonzalez was responsible for the overall management of the facility, including the executions of basic policy that maintains the observatory at the front of research in astronomy, planetary studies and atmospheric science. He stepped down as Director on September 15, 2006, although he continues as assistant director for space and atmospheric sciences.

Astrophysics

Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties (luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition) of celestial objects such as stars, galaxies, and the interstellar medium, as well as their interactions.

Dr. Enectali Figueroa is a mechanical engineer, Astronaut applicant and an Assistant Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology {MIT] and the author of various papers including "Position-sensitive low-temperature detectors".

Dr. Figueroa's research interests revolve around the development of high-energy-resolution imaging spectrometers for space-borne applications in experimental astrophysics and cosmology. Dr. Figueroa pioneered the development of position-sensitive detectors that will provide an order of magnitude more pixels (and thus larger field of view) than traditional single-pixel X-ray microcalorimeters."

Biochemistry

Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes in living organisms. It deals with the structure and function of cellular components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules.

Dr. Nitza Margarita Cintron is a scientist who originated the Biochemistry Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. She is the Chief of Space Medicine and Health Care Systems Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

In 1979, Dr. Cintron originated the Biochemistry Laboratory at the Space Lab 2 mission which was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985. In 2004 she was named "Chief of NASA's (JSC) Space Medicine and Health Care Systems Office", position which she currently holds.

Botany

Botany is a branch of biology and is the scientific study of plant life and development.

Dr. Agustín Stahl (1842 – 1917) considered as Puerto Rico's first renowned scientist, conducted investigations and experiments in the fields of botany, ethnology and zoology.

Dr. Stahl has a genus, Stahlia, and five valid species, Argythamnia stahlii, Senna pendula var. stahlii , Eugenia stahlii, Lyonia stahlii, and Ternstroemia stahlii, named in his honor. The genus Stahlia is represented by a single species, S. monosperma (Tul.) Urb., known to occur only in Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic. Known in Puerto Rico as Cóbana Negra, this species is currently listed as threatened in the USFW Federal Register, Apr 5, 1990.

Ecology

Ecology is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of life and the interactions between organisms and their natural environment. Dr. Ariel Lugo is a scientist, ecologist and Director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry within the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, based in Puerto Rico. He is a founding Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Member-at-Large of the Board of the Ecological Society of America.

Dr. Lugo joined the Department of Natural Resources in Puerto Rico as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Resource Analysis in 1974 after carrying out post-doctoral research studies on wet forests in El Verde, Puerto Rico and mangroves in Florida. He has worked on a wide range of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems: hardwood forests, mangroves, floodplain wetlands, sand pine forests, prairie lakes and palm wetlands. His current research is focused on assessments of the role of tropical forests in global processes and comparisons between tropical tree plantations and natural forests.

Dr. Lugo has over 300 publications in scientific journals and books and has served on federal interagency committees and frequently required to appear as an expert witness in federal court in cases considering environmental issues. Among the positions which hew has held are the following:

  • President of the Association for Tropical Biology
  • Chairman of the Man and the Biosphere Directorate for Tropical Forest Ecosystems
  • Board Member for the Society of Conservation Biology and for the International Society for Tropical Ecology
  • Founding Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Member-at-Large of the Board of the Ecological Society of America.

Dr. Lugo currently serves on the Editorial Boards of Conservation Ecology, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Forest Ecology and Management, Restoration Ecology, Journal of Sustainable Forestry, Acta Cientifica (Editor) and Journal of the Littoral.

Hydrometeorology

Hydrometeorology is a branch of meteorology and hydrology that studies the transfer of water and energy between the land surface and the lower atmosphere.

Dr. Rafael L. Bras is an engineer and expert in hydrometeorology and global warming. As an engineering hydrologist, his major areas of interest include land-atmosphere interactions and geomorphology. He is considered one of the world's leading experts in global warming, and has also served as a professional consultant in multiple projects around the world.

As a hydrologist, Dr. Bras has specialized in the interpretation of natural phenomena as random functions. He has been recognized for his use of modern probabilistic methods in the design of networks to monitor rainfall and river flow, and in rainfall and river discharge forecasting. Presently his interests span the areas of fluvial geomorphology and hydroclimatology.

Inventors

In the field of Aerospace (see "Aerospace" section) Puerto Ricans have contributed to the development of the "Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries" which helps enable the International Space Station power system; the design of a viable full-scale solar sail and the development and testing of a scale model solar sail; the invention of a portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis; the development of the Advanced Payload Transfer Measurement System (ASPTMS)(Electronic 3D measuring system) and the design of a viable full-scale solar sail and the development and testing of a scale model solar sail. Their inventions are not only limited to this field, many have invented products for commercial use.

Art

Ileana Sánchez invented a book for the blind that brings together art and braille.

Ms. Sanchez used a new technique called TechnoPrint and TechnoBraille. Rather than punch through heavy paper to create the raised dots of the Braille alphabet for the blind, these techniques apply an epoxy to the page to create not only raised dots, but raised images with texture. The epoxy melds with the page, becoming part of it, so that you can't scrape it off with your fingernail. The images are raised so that a blind person can feel the artwork and in color, not just to attract the sighted family who will read the book with blind siblings or children, but also for the blind themselves.

The book "Art & the Alphabet, A Tactile Experience" is co-written with Rebecca McGinnis of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met has already incorporated the book into their Access program.

Musical instruments

The cuatro is the national instrument of Puerto Rico. It belongs to the lute family of string instruments. Very little is known about the exact origin of the Cuatro.

William Richard Cumpiano is a world-renowned authority on the making of stringed musical instruments who is also renowned for his writing and teaching of the art of luthiery. He has built numerous cuatros for musicians in the United States and also has crafted cuatro variants of his own design: he developed a "seis," or six-course (12-string) cuatro that can be tuned in the same string intervals as a guitar. He also developed the "thinline" cuatro with a body depth of only two inches instead of the traditional three.

Plastics

Three Puerto Rican inventors, Guanglou Cheng and Carlos A. Ramirez, both of Mayagüez and Maria Aponte of Añasco, Puerto Rico, developed biodegradable polymers.

A polymer is a large molecule (macromolecule) composed of repeating structural units connected by covalent chemical bonds. Well-known examples of polymers include plastics, DNA and proteins.

According to the abstract released by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: "Degradable polymides are prepared in high yield by polymerizing a monomer containing at least two anhydride groups, and a monomer containing at least two primary amine groups and at least one acidic group, in bulk or in a solvent. The polymides are very strong in terms of their mechanical properties, yet degradable under standard physiological conditions." The inventors were issued U.S. Patent No. 7,427,654.

Reinforced concrete

Oscar Marty is an inventor who developed a modular system of permanent forms for casting reinforced concrete buildings on site.

According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: "A permanent form building assembly includes one or more glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GRC) forms having a one or more open cavities and a reinforcement structure. The GRC forms are designed and configured for a predetermined application. The reinforcement structure is inserted within the open cavities of the GRC forms prior to filling with concrete." The inventor was issued U.S. Patent No. 7,185,467

Soft drinks

Ángel Rivero Méndez (1856 – 1930) was a soldier, writer, journalist and a businessman who is credited with inventing the "Kola Champagne" a soft drink.

After Rivero retired from the military, he founded the "Fabrica Polo Norte" (North Pole Factory) a soft drink company. Rivero is credited with the invention and elaboration of the "Kola Champagne" soda. Kola Champagne not only became, and still is, a very popular drink in Puerto Rico, but it is also elaborated and sold in other countries, such the United States, Colombia, Jamaica and Mexico.

Medicine

Cardiology

Cardiology is the branch of internal medicine dealing with disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Dr. Antonio Fernós-Isern (1895 – 1974) was the first Puerto Rican cardiologist and its longest serving resident commissioner.

Dr. Fernós-Isern earned his doctor's degree in May 1915 at University of Maryland. In Puerto Rico he practiced medicine for two years and he held various administrative positions in the health services of Puerto Rico. In 1918, he was the Director for the City of San Juan; form 1919 to 1921, he was the Under-Secretary of Health; from 1921-23 the Director of Health in city; form 1923-29 he was once again Under-Secretary of Health and form 1930-33 the Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico. In 1933, Fernos-Isern resigned as health commissioner and went to New York, where he completed his residency in cardiology at Columbia University and thus became the "first" Puerto Rican cardiologist. He returned to Puerto Rico and became a professor at the "Public School of Tropical Medicine of Puerto Rico", where he had previously served as assistant and associate professor.

In 1946, the governor of Puerto Rico, Jesus T. Piñero, appointed Dr. Fernos-Isern as his replacement for the Resident Commissioner to the U.S. Congress after unanimous endorsement from the legislature. Fernos-Isern was re-elected for six consecutive years, serving a total of nineteen years.


Dr. Ramón M. Suárez Calderon (1895-1981) was a cardiologist and scientist.

His investigations led him to identify the proper and effective treatment of a type of anemia known as Tropical Espru, the application of complex methods, such as electrocardiography and radioisotope, to be used in clinics and the identification and treatment of the disease which causes heart rheumatism.

Embryology

Embryology is the study of the development of an embryo. An embryo is defined as any organism in a stage before birth or hatching, or in plants, before germination occurs.

Dr. Juan R. Correa-Pérez, Ph.D. is a scientist who is credited with becoming the first clinical Andrologist and Embryologist in Puerto Rico (1998).

Dr.Correa-Pérez is involved in the development, implementation and oversight of research protocols in which the use of animals is required for investigational purposes. According to U.S. federal law, institutions that use laboratory animals for research or instructional purposes must establish an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee(IACUC) to oversee and evaluate all aspects of the institution's animal care and use program.

He is also involved in the development of a of a research program in conjunction with the establishment and implementation of a reproductive physiology laboratory. As Scientific Director, Centro de Fertilidad del Caribe, Río Piedras PR, his responsibilities include: overall operation, administration, and technical and scientific oversight of the Andrology and Embryology laboratories.

Dr.Correa-Pérez has been featured in the "Who's Who in America- Biography" 60th (2006) Edition (Diamond Edition) of Who's Who in America. In 2005 he was named in 6th Annual Royan International Research Award nominations for the best five research papers in reproductive biomedicine and stem cells at the Royan Institute, Tehran, Iran- Nomination of the manuscript entitled "Development of differential sperm tail swelling patterns during exposure of human spermatozoa to hypoosmotic environments regulated by a colloid osmotic pressure effect" by Correa-Pérez JR,Fernández-Pelegrina R, Zavos PM., published in the journal Andrologia 2004;36:84-86.

Endocrinology

Endocrinology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the endocrine system and its specific secretions called hormones.

Dr. Pedro Beauchamp, the first Puerto Rican specialist certified by the American Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Board, performed the first in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique on the island in 1985.

In 1976, Beauchamp earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico. He continued his medical education in obstetrics and gynaecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1980 to 1982, Dr. Beauchamp finishes his formal internship in the fields of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1982, Dr. Beauchamp was responsible and is credited with delivering the first triplets born by in-vitro fertilization in the United States and the first in-vitro baby born in Argentina. His work is known as GIFT (in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer) and TET (Tubal Embryo Transfer). Dr. Beauchamp returned to Puerto Rico in 1985 and establishes his practice in reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the city of Bayamon. In 1986, he delivers the first child born from the in-vitro fertilization procedure in all of Puerto Rico at the Regional Hospital of Bayamon.

Nephrology

Nephrology is a branch of internal medicine and pediatrics dealing with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney.

Dr. Manuel Martínez-Maldonado, a Nephrologist, is the executive vice president for research at the University of Louisville.

Dr. Martínez-Maldonado has authored numerous scientific publications. His research interests are the regulation of blood pressure and the effect of high blood pressure on the kidneys. He also focuses on the renin angiotensin system, a hormone system that helps regulate long-term blood pressure and blood volume in the body and which is controlled primarily by the kidneys.

He is the President and dean of Ponce School of Medicine and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Odontology

Odontology is the scientific study of the structure, development, and abnormalities of the teeth.

Dr. Fernando E. Rodríguez Vargas, DDS, (1888– 1932) was an odontologist (dentist), scientist and a Major in the U.S. Army who discovered the bacteria which causes dental caries.

Dr. Rodríguez Vargas was assigned to the Army Dental Corps as an educator and investigator of the bacteriological aspects of dental diseases. His research led him to discover the bacteria which causes dental caries. According to his investigations, three types of the Lactobacillus species, during the process of fermentation, are the causes of cavities. In December 1922, he published an original and fundamental work on the specific bacteriology of dental caries. His findings were published in the December issue of the Military Dental Journal titled "The Specific Study of the Bacteriology of Dental Cavities". Dr. Rodríguez Vargas also developed the techniques and methods of analysis. On September 28, 1928, Dr. Rodriguez Vargas published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" his findings in the effectiveness of Iodine and other chemical agents as disinfectants of the mucous membranes of the mouth. Since then, other scientists have used the findings of his investigations as the basis in the study of the bacteriology of dental caries.

Oncology

Oncology is the branch of medicine that studies tumors (cancer) and seeks to understand their development, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Dr. Isaac González Martínez (1871-1954) was one of the first urologist in Puerto Rico and pioneer in the fight against cancer in the island.

Dr. González Martínez conducted many investigations and experiments in parasitology, bilharzia, lepra and typhoid fever. Dr. González Martínez and Dr. Bailey K. Ashford the first commission in Puerto Rico to study the causes of anemia. In 1914, he was named director of the biological laboratory of the sanitation service of Puerto Rico. In 1935, Dr. González Martínez founded The Puerto Rican League against Cancer. He was also promoted the construction of Puerto Rico's first hospital specializing in oncology.

Organ transplant

An organ transplant is the moving of a whole or partial organ from one body to another (or from a donor site on the patient's own body), for the purpose of replacing the recipient's damaged or failing organ with a working one from the donor site. Organ donors can be living or deceased (previously referred to as cadaveric).

Dr. Eduardo Santiago Delpin is a surgeon who wrote the first book in Spanish about organ transplant.

Dr. Santiago Delpin is the founder of the Latin American Transplant Register, The Pan-American Society of Dialysis and Transplants, plus the Latin American and Caribbean Society of Transplants. He is a professor of surgery at the University of Puerto Rico and program director of transplantation of organs of the Mutual Aid Hospital.

His book, "Organ transplantation", the first to be published in Spanish on the topic, won the Prize of Graphic Arts in Mexico and sold out in a year and a half. It covers the history of transplants in different countries, their conditions and their effects religious, ethical, psychological and cultural aspects in addition to considering immunological and clinical procedure. The book now is in its second edition.

Pediatrics

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents.

Dr. Antonia Coello Novello is a pediatrician who served as the 14th Surgeon General of the United States from 1990 to 1993.

Dr. Novello completed her internship and residency in nephrology at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Novello remained at Michigan in 1973 -1974 on a fellowship in the Department of internal medicine, and spent the following year on a fellowship in the Department of Pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine. From 1976 to 1978, she was in private practice in pediatrics in Springfield, Virginia.

In 1978, Dr. Novello joined and received a commission in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) rising all the way up to flag officer/medical director grade. Her first assignment being as a project officer at the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She held various positions at NIH, rising to the medical director/flag rank in the PHSCC and to the job of Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in 1986. She also served as Coordinator for AIDS Research for NICHD from September 1987. In this role, she developed a particular interest in pediatric AIDS. Dr. Novello made major contributions to the drafting and enactment of the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984 while assigned to the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, working with the staff of committee chairman Orrin Hatch.

Dr. Novello was appointed Surgeon General by President George H. W. Bush, beginning her tenure on March 9, 1990 and was appointed to the temporary rank of vice admiral in the regular corps while holding that office. She was the first woman and the first Hispanic (Puerto Rican) to hold the position.


Dr. Milagros (Mili) J. Cordero is a licensed, registered occupational therapist with board certification in Pediatrics. She is the founder and President of ITT’S for Children, a professional group that assists and empowers parents to develop a better understanding of the strengths and needs of their children and to enhance their children’s development to the full extent of their capability.

Dr. Cordero is certified in the use of SAMONAS and Tomatis sound therapies. She is member of the national DIR faculty and serves as vice-chair to Georgia ’s State Interagency Coordinating Council for the Babies Can’t Wait Program, the professional advisory council of the National Cornelia De Lange Association, and the board of the Frazer Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Teratology

Teratology refers to disfiguring birth defects or malformations. Another term for this is dysmorphology, meaning "the study of abnormal form."

Dr. José F. Cordero is a Pediatrician, Epidemiologist, Teratologist and Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Cordero was an Assistant Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service and the Founding Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1994, Dr. Cordero was appointed deputy director of the National Immunization Program, where he made important and long-lasting contributions in many areas of one of the nation's most successful public health programs. In 2001, he was named the first director of the NCBDDD that was created by the Children's Health Act of 2000. In a few years, NCBDDD became a leading international institution devoted to research and prevention of birth defects and developmental disabilities and health promotion of people of ages living with disabilities.

Dr. Cordero, whose work has been published in many national and international journals, has promoted the eradication of Rubella (German measles), a major cause of birth defects that can be prevented through vaccination. He has also promoted research to determine the causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities, and has promoted efforts to prevent serious birth defects (such as use of folic acid to prevent Spina Bifida). He is a strong supporter of programs that promote wellness of persons with disabilities.

Microbiology

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are unicellular or cell-cluster microscopic organisms. This includes eukaryotes such as fungi and protists, and prokaryotes, which are bacteria and archaea. Viruses, though not strictly classed as living organisms, are also studied.

Monserrate Roman, is a scientist in NASA who helped NASA build part of the International Space Station. She is the Chief Microbiologist for the Environmental Control and Life Support System project who determines how microbes will behave under different situations and in different locations, such as the nooks and crannies of the Space Station.

Roman was a member of the team which built the International Space Station. The Station was designed with materials that are microbe-resistant. Temperature and humidity are controlled to discourage microbe growth. Roman must study an international, multicultural group of the microbes, since crewmembers, visitors, experiments and hardware hail from 15 Station partner countries and comes with his or her own unique set of microbes.

Public health

Ronald "Ron" Rivera (1948 – 2008) invented an inexpensive ceramic water filter used to treat gray water in impoverished communities. He established community-based factories to produce the filters around the world.

The filter has been cited by the United Nations’ Appropriate Technology Handbook, and tens of thousands of filters have been distributed worldwide by organizations such as International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, Plan International, Project Concern International, Oxfam and USAID.

Rocket scientist

Lissette Martinez is an Electrical Engineer and Rocket Scientist. Martinez is the lead electrical engineer for the Space Experiment Module program at the Wallops Flight Facility located in Virginia which is part of NASA's Goddard Flight Facility.

She is responsible for providing electrical engineering support to Code 870 Space Experiment Module (SEM) program. She also is responsible for the testing of ground and flight hardware. Martinez works with students around the world, helping them with science experiments that will actually ride along on Space Shuttle missions and blast into space.

Martinez was part of the team that launched a rocket from White Sands, New Mexico to gather information on the Hale-Bopp Comet in 1999. She was featured in the November 2002 issue of Latina magazine.

Space exploration

Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba is a Puerto Rican-American teacher, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut. In May 2004 he became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate when he was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Training Group 19. He completed his training on February 10, 2006 and is currently assigned to STS-119, which is tentatively set to launch on December 4, 2008 to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station.

Zoology

Zoology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of animals.

Dr. Juan A. Rivero, is a scientist and zoologist who discovered over a hundred animal species and founded the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo at the University of Puerto Rico's Mayagüez Campus.

Dr. Rivero seved as an Assistant Plant Physiologist, Instructor, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor before becoming a full Professor of Biology at UPR-Mayagüez in 1958. After founding the institution's zoo in 1954, he served as its first director, as well as founder and director of the UPR's Institute of Marine Biology. From 1959 to 1960 he served as director of the Biology Department and from 1962 to 1966, as Dean of Arts and Sciences, oversaw the work of over 200 faculty members and a two million dollar annual budget. Between 1966 and 1968, he served as a Research Associate at Harvard University and Visiting Scientist at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation.

Dr. Rivero has discovered over a hundred animal species, particularly amphibians and reptiles, many of which were named in his honor and has written over 200 papers and articles and numerous books.

See also

References

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