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Women occupy an increasingly important role in science. Photo: wikicommons
Women occupy an increasingly important role in science. Photo: wikicommons

Five Latina scientists who are making history

Currently, women scientists represent less than 30% of scientists in the world.

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Currently, women scientists represent less than 30% of scientists in the world. However, their performance has been fundamental in history towards scientific and technological progress in the different fields of knowledge. 
 
"To face the immense challenges of the 21st century — from climate change to technological upheavals — we need science and all the necessary energy and, therefore, the world cannot deprive itself of the potential, intelligence and creativity of the thousands of women who are victims of deep-rooted inequalities or prejudices," said Audrey Azoulay, director general of UNESCO on International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
 
According to figures provided by the Workshop Towards the Promotion of Women's Participation in Scientific Research in Latin America, organized by Colciencias and the International Development Research Centre of Canada, 45% of research in the Americas is conducted by women. However, despite progress, gaps are still present and notoriously evident in areas such as exact sciences, engineering and computing.
 
Only in Latin America, are there dozens of women who work every day to contribute their knowledge to the scientific world, conducting research in different fields, not only in their home countries, but also abroad.
Bonnie Prado Pinto
Bonnie is a Colombian aerospace engineer born in the Colombian Pacific. 
 
Despite the lack of opportunities and state neglect, Prado Pinto dreamed of becoming an aerospace scientist and working for NASA. 
 
She graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota and later worked as a visiting student for the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas, where she pursued a graduate degree in aerospace engineering. 
 
In 2010, she got an internship that made one of her greatest dreams come true: to work at NASA. There she collaborated on perfecting the development of robotic vehicles for space exploration.
 
Currently, Prado Pinto is pursuing her doctoral studies in Astrodynamics and Space Application at Purdue University in Indiana.
Idelisa Bonelly
This marine biologist of Dominican origin is considered the "mother of marine conservation in the Caribbean." 
 
Bonnelly began her studies in marine biology in New York in 1953, since there were no universities in her native country where this career was taught. Upon her return to the Dominican Republic, she founded the first institution in the country to study marine environmental sciences with the firm purpose of motivating young women to become scientists.
 
One of her greatest achievements was to create the first humpback whale sanctuary in the North Atlantic. Since 1984, together with a group of Dominican and international organizations, Bonnelly promoted the protection of the breeding grounds of humpback whales, dolphins and manatees.
Sandra López Verges 
Sandra is a Panamanian biochemist who has focused her research on understanding viral infections and virus-human host interactions. 
 
She is currently a senior health researcher and head of the Department of Virology and Health Biotechnology Research at the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies (ICGES) and is developing a new line of research on innate immunity in viral and arboviral diseases. 
 
Her research and work has resulted in a patent and numerous publications in high impact journals and prestigious awards, such as the UNESCO-L'OREAL International Award for Young Women in Science.
Diana Trujillo 
Trujillo is a Colombian born in Cali who currently works at NASA as deputy leader of the robotic arm and arm science, and leader of the travel operations examinations program.
 
The aerospace engineer participated in the mission that sent the Perseverance robot to Mars in August 2020. She and her team were in charge of integrating all the physical, electrical and computing parts of the robot to collect samples on the Red Planet.
 
Diana dreams of becoming an astronaut and making it to space someday. If she doesn't make it, she hopes her children will. 
Dioselin González
González is one of the main engineers at Unity Labs, a lab in charge of exploring how game creation, AI, complex learning, computer visualization, virtual reality, augmented reality and storytelling will evolve over the next decade. 
 
The Venezuelan designed, managed and delivered the prototype of Carte Blanche (a VR creation tool for consumers). 
 
For five years, Gonzalez worked in the animated film industry at Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, managing an immersive storytelling platform at DWA for an animation technology commercialization initiative.  
 
She currently leads the mixed reality research group at Unity Labs.
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