Pilar Cossio, Ph.D.Research Scientist and Project Leader, CCM joint with CCB, Flatiron Institute
Robert W. Fernandez, Ph.D.Columbia University
Delia Meza, M.A.New York Hall of Science, Director of Family learning and Community Partnerships
While Hispanic people account for nearly 20 percent of the total United States population, a 2021 report released by the National Science Foundation showed that Hispanic STEM faculty represent only 4.6 percent of full professors across all science disciplines.
Traditionally underrepresented students and professionals face great barriers when it comes to representation and retention in formal STEM settings. How do we change that?
Tonight we’ll spotlight what these challenges are by talking with working scientists, with the goal of understanding how their experiences have led to new programs and initiatives to help eliminate barriers. As the saying goes, “It takes a village,” so we will also be discussing the role communities and families play in helping to effect change.
Pilar Cossio is a physicist who recognizes that there are not many people who look like her in the field and often asks, “Why?
Robert W. Fernandez was undocumented for 20 years, which made pursuing higher education difficult. He is currently a neuroscientist at Columbia University; he also co-founded Científico Latino, an organization that supports underrepresented students in science, to ensure that other young people don’t face the same difficulties he did.
Delia Meza works at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens, with predominantly Spanish-speaking families, to create room for children and their caretakers to learn and be inspired by science together.
All three are committed to creating space for people to continue on their STEM journeys for as long as they choose to do so.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, they’ll be joined by Alice Bodón, co-chair of the Latine Employee Resource group at the Simons Foundation, to discuss the unique ways they’re each contributing to building a more robust and equitable ecosystem of STEM opportunities in New York City.
About the Speakers:
Pilar Cossio joined the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Mathematics in April 2021 as a research scientist and project leader for the Structural and Molecular Biophysics collaboration. Previously, Cossio was Max Planck Tandem Group Leader associated with the University of Antioquia in Colombia and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Germany. She has also held postdoctoral positions at the National Institutes of Health and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics. Cossio focuses on the development of mathematical and computational methods to characterize proteins’ structures and dynamics from cryo-electron microscopy, single-molecule spectroscopy and biomolecular simulations. She holds a Ph.D. in physics and chemistry of biological systems from the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy and a B.S. in physics from the University of Antioquia.
Robert W. Fernandez is a Junior Fellow with the Simons Society of Fellows in the laboratory of Oliver Hobert at Columbia University, studying how neural circuits develop in the male C. elegans nervous system. He was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, undocumented for 20 years. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. He is the co-founder of Científico Latino, an organization that helps underrepresented students access higher education in the sciences. In recognition of his work, Dr. Fernandez received the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and he has been called one of the 100 inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America by Cell Mentor.
Delia Meza is the director of family learning and community partnerships at the New York Hall of Science. She has been in the field of museum education for over 20 years, developing new initiatives that are responsive to community needs. She has a deep understanding of early-childhood programming and family-engagement best practices. Meza received the Association of Children’s Museums Diversity in Action Fellowship and is an Association of Science and Technology Centers Diversity and Leadership Development Fellow. Meza holds an M.A. in leadership in museum education from Bank Street College of Education.
Alice Bodón joined the Simons Foundation in 2019. She is the administrative manager for the Center for Computational Mathematics at the Flatiron Institute. She comes to the foundation with extensive administrative and management experience, including 10 years at New York University working in various divisions, from University Development and Public Affairs to Faculty of Arts and Science Dean’s Office to Global Programs and University Life. Alice holds a B.S. from St. John’s University and an M.A. from New York University. She has also worked on film and media projects, as well as on fundraising initiatives to provide direct support for those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
To attend this in-person event, you will need to:
- Register in advance
- At this time, all guests at the Simons Foundation must be over the age of 18.
- Provide valid photo ID upon entering the building
- Present your digital or printed Eventbrite ticket confirmation; make sure it is for the correct event and that the name on it matches your ID
- Wear a mask while in the auditorium and restrooms
Please note that when you enter the Simons Foundation buildings, you are attesting that you are not experiencing COVID symptoms and are not knowingly positive for COVID.
5:30 p.m. Doors open
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. In Conversation
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Reception