Executive Board

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Marlia Bosques-Martínez (Co-founder)

Marlia's interest in agriculture dates back to high school when she started her own garden. Her fascination and passion for agriculture motivated her to pursue a bachelor's degree in Crop protection at the University of Puerto Rico. She has a plant pathology master's degree from The Ohio State University where her research focused on root-knot nematode diversity, biocontrol, and yield loss on tomatoes. In fall 2020, she will start an Ag Education and Extension Ph.D. program at the University of Florida. With her commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity she plans to conduct collaborative and cross-disciplinary research using a gender perspective. Marlia also aspires to work with Latinx growers and the community through extension programs and to educate students.  

 

 

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Andrea Lugo-Torres (Co-founder)

Andrea’s passion for agriculture was reinforced when she noticed the lack of respect and appreciation of the food and crop production in Puerto Rico. Andrea’s aspirations led to complete a Bachelors in Agricultural Science with a major in Crop Protection and start a master’s in Plant Pathology at Cornell University. Her research program is focused on the evaluation of foliar diseases in New York Malting Barley lines, pathogen population ecology, and biology coupled with extension appointments. She has been involved in diversity working groups, recruitments, and different initiatives to increase the unrepresented minorities and women in the agricultural sciences. Andrea will continue to expand her knowledge and interests to educate non-scientist communities by this platform and outreach dynamics around Upstate New York. 

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Ana María Vázquez-Catoni (Co-founder)

Ana María is Plant Pathology Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recently, she formed part of the Seed Potato Pathology lab, advised by Dr. Renée Rioux. She completed her Master's in Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University where she characterized the endophytic bacterial microbiome of tomato plants grown in soils with a history of chicken grazing. Before joining the Plant Pathology graduate program, she obtained a double bachelor's degree focused in Biology and Industrial Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Ana María developed her interest in science communication by being involved in student organizations dedicated to educating about the environment and sustainable living. She is an outreach enthusiast and hopes to further collaborate with organizations that promote diversity, inclusion, and empowerment of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

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Noelymar González-Maldonado (Co-founder)

Noelymar is a Soils and Biogeochemistry Ph.D. student at UC Davis with a focus on soil microbial ecology and soil health in perennial agroecosystems. She did her Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University, where she studied soil organic matter dynamics in long-term managed soils. Her interest in agriculture and soil research originated during her undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez, where she majored in Agronomy. Noely is enthusiastic about soil sciences, sustainable agriculture, and agroecology education, research, and outreach. Her goals include establishing multidisciplinary collaborations with scientists and stakeholders and developing strong research and outreach skills to work towards improving sustainable agriculture and soil resilience especially in agroecosystems that are highly susceptible to climate change effects. She's also committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts in STEM and to motivating/helping other underrepresented students to strive for higher education and entrepreneurship.

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Juliana González-Tobón

Juliana always wanted to become a scientist. However, her interest in plants and their diseases was triggered by a plant pathology course she took during her undergraduate studies at Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia). She focused her efforts on becoming a plant doctor, first by completing her Master in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Plant Pathology (also at Los Andes) and now by pursuing her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at Cornell University. Her research has been and continues to be, focused on the molecular interactions that happen between the pathogens and the environment surrounding them. As well as how this can be used to control the disease they cause. She is an enthusiast of science communication and of how to translate scientific discoveries that might seem only applicable in the lab to real life.

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Alejandra Chang-Colón

Raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Alejandra is an MS.c. Graduate student in the Animal Science department at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus. Curious about the natural world and with a passion for animals from a young age, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, finishing a dual bachelor's degree in both Animal Science and Industrial Microbiology. Alejandra currently works as a graduate research assistant in ovine andrology, focusing on heat stress, sexual maturity, and genetics. In addition, through working as a laboratory instructor, Alejandra has developed a passion for teaching and understanding the impact effective communication has on breaking down common stereotypes within the male-dominated Agricultural Science field as new generations arise. Committed to making science accessible to everyone and tearing down economic, social, and language barriers, she hopes to empower future scientists to follow their curiosity and put it to work towards the betterment of the world. 

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Carolina L. González-Berríos

Carolina is currently a USDA NIFA Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Colorado State University. She joined the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory in the fall of 2017 and is under the guidance of co-advisees Dr. Thomas R. Hansen and Dr. Milton G. Thomas. Her research focuses on understanding what are the underlying mechanisms of early pregnancy loss and identifying genetic markers that can help differentiate Holstein cows that are predisposed to it. Previous to her Ph.D. studies, she obtained her master’s and bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences and minor in Pre-Veterinary Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She is also committed to continuing cultivating her interest in outreach, science communication, and advocating for underrepresented minorities, like herself, in the fields of S.T.E.M. and agriculture. 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Collaborators

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Yingyu Liu, Ph.D. (Content Editor)

Yingyu's passion for agriculture stemmed from her appreciation for plants and love for entomology. Agriculture is what sustains us as a society, but there are so many ongoing threats, including pathogens, waste, and climate change. Yingyu started her agriculture education from the top agricultural university in China, followed by a study abroad program in Taiwan, before finished up her bachelor's degree in plant science at University of Maryland. Yingyu received her Ph.D. in plant pathology from Cornell University in Dec 2020. Her thesis research advanced the understanding of the emerging plant pathogenic bacteria Dickeya and Pectobacterium and their interactions with potatoes. She has been facilitating empathic listening in higher education and participated in various outreach events in agricultural sciences. Yingyu is determined to use her scientific skills and interpersonal skills to facilitate scientific communications and fostering communities domestically and internationally.

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Mara F. Cuebas-Irizarry, M.Sc. (Spanish Translator)

Mara is a Microbiology Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on deconstruction and bioconversion of polymeric waste under the advice of Dr. Amy Grunden. She completed a Master’s in Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez focusing on carbon catabolite repression in hypersaline environments under the advice of Dr. Rafael Montalvo Rodríguez. She also obtained her bachelor’s in Industrial Microbiology in the same university. She was born and raised in the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, where she developed interest in environmental awareness and agriculture. In the future, she plans to focus on agricultural waste research and bioprocessing. Her extracurricular activities include being the president of the Latin American Student Association at NC State University, and collaborating with non-profit organizations to increase visibility and support to underrepresented communities.

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Lizbeth Dávila Santiago, M.Sc. (Spanish Translator and Monthly Newsletter Developer)

Born and raised in the west coast of Puerto Rico, Lizbeth is a Biology Ph.D Candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology under the advice of Dr. Kostas Konstantinidis. Her research focuses on understanding the microbial composition of the atmosphere through bioinformatic tools, what atmospheric conditions could influence the atmospheric microbiome in urban landscapes, and how can bacteria be precursors of precipitation. She gained interest in Microbial Ecology during her bachelor’s at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, where she also got her Master’s under the advice of Dr. Arturo Massol Deyá. From her early experiences as a research student, she became interested in studying microbial communities in ways to mitigate contamination and promote environmental awareness. Concerned about the gender gap in STEM, Lizbeth is also interested in mentoring and training women at undergraduate levels about environmental microbiology and bioinformatics by recruiting for summer research opportunities and offering bioinformatic workshops.

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Mariela Pérez-Sepúlveda, M.Sc. (Spanish Translator)

Mariela is a soil scientist and her love for agriculture runs through her veins. Her grandparents were farmers and from a young age, she grew up fascinated with everything related to nature. She was proud of how her grandfather used to sell products from his farm at her school. She has a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. During her undergrad years, she took a course of Soil Science with Dr. Juan Pérez-Bolívar that aroused her curiosity about soils. At the same university, she completed a Master’s degree in Soil Science under the mentorship of Dr. Mario Flores-Mangual. She conducted research through the Center for Sustainable Water, Energy and Food Nexus (SusWEF) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and directed by Dr. Nelson Cardona-Martinez from the Chemical Engineering Department of the UPRM and in collaboration with the University of South Carolina. Her research with SusWEF focused on the use of lignin by-product obtained through the deconstruction of agricultural waste biomass– as  a soil amendment, where the effect of lignin on the physical and chemical properties of soils were measured. During her master she had the opportunity to work hand-to-hand with school teachers guiding them on the importance of Soil Science and Natural Sciences through the UPRM program Science on Wheels. Also, she mentored undergraduate students, worked with local farmers, and after this experience she felt passionate about the importance of academics and agricultural science, and decided to pursue a Ph.D. degree in North Carolina State University (NSCU) in Soil Science.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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Patricia Montalvo-Rodriguez (Spanish Translator and Content Editor for Media Collaboration with Agrochic)

 

Patricia was born and raised in San German, a small town in Puerto Rico where, during her childhood, never felt far from the ocean. From early on, in her 
teenage years, she knew that she was interested in oceanography and 
marine life, but it wasn’t until the sophomore year of her undergrad at the 
University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez that she realized her interests in 
Environmental Microbiology. Currently, Patricia is an Environment & 
Geography Master’s student at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, 
Canada under the guidance of Dr. Eric Collins. Her project focuses on using 
bioinformatic tools to analyze microbial oil-degrading communities and 
microbial ecosystem services in the Arctic. In the future, Patricia would like 
to contribute to the field of biological oceanography in warmer climates and 
science communication on climate change. As global warming progresses 
and the effects of climate change are more evident, she is proud to 
represent Latinas in this white-male dominated space and is motivated to 
improve science communication to vulnerable communities that, in the 
future, will have an unfair disadvantage to environmental changes. When 
she isn’t working, some of Patricia’s hobbies include cooking and crocheting.

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Name
Language
Pronouns
Email
Twitter
Ismael J. Pérez-Cordero
Spanish
He/Él
ismael.perez4@upr.edu
Mariacamila Villa
Spanish
She/Ella
villamariacamila12@gmail.com

Past Members and Collaborators

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Patricia Marie Cordero-Irizarry

As Patricia became more aware of her surroundings, she realized the gravity of the food safety issue in Puerto Rico and the environmental impact of agriculture. This encouraged her to pursue an agricultural career and her first step was to obtain a bachelor's degree in Crop Protection at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, minoring in Professional and Practical Ethics. Then, she obtained a master's degree in Environment and Natural Resources specializing in Soil Science at The Ohio State University. Currently, Patricia is interested in the history and ethical issues of agricultural systems and plans on conducting interdisciplinary research to contribute to social and environmental justice. She is committed to converting agricultural systems into more socially equitable, sustainable, and environmentally-safe spaces.

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Marian M. Rodriguez-Soto, M.Sc. (Spanish Translator)

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Kézia Cristina da Silva Reis (Portuguese Translator)

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