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Hispanic STEM Contributors: Home

Library resources on the contributions of Hispanic scientists and engineers to the STEM field


In honor of National Hispanic Heritage month, here are a few Library resources on the contributions of Hispanic scientists and engineers to the STEM field.  Please note that this is just a sampling of the scientists and engineers who contributed to the STEM fields, but there are more to discover at your local library!

Here are just a few general books on Hispanic contributors to many different fields!

Sylvia Acevedo

Sylvia Acevedo (1956-)

Sylvia Acevedo is one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master's in engineering from Standford University.  She went on to be a rocket scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and later served as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Helia Bravo Hollis

Helia Bravo Hollis (1901-2001)

Helia Bravo Hollis was the first certified biologist of Mexico, who created the herbarium at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and dedicated her life's work to the study of the cacti in Mexico and part of North America.

Franklin Chang-Díaz

Franklin Chang-Díaz (1950-)

Franklin Chang-Díaz holds a doctorate degree in applied plasma physics from MIT and was the first Hispanic astronaut.  He has made seven spaceflights and was the director of NASA's Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1993 until 2005.

Carlos Juan Finlay

Carlos Juan Finlay (1833-1915)

Carlos Juan Finlay was a Cuban epidemiologist who discovered that Yellow Fever was transmitted through mosquitoes.  Although he published his evidence of this discovery in 1886, his ideas were largely ignored until the turn of the century.

César Lattes

César Lattes (1924-2005)

Césare Mansueto Giulio Lattes was a Brazilian physicist who, with American physicist Eugene Gardner at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1948 confirmed the existence of heavy and light mesons formed during the bombardment of carbon nuclei with alpha particles.

Cesar Milstein

Cesar Milstein (1927-2002)

Cesar Milstein was an Argentine-born British molecular biologist who has performed important research on the genetics, biosynthesis, and chemistry of immunoglobulins (antibody proteins), developing a technique for preparing chemically pure monoclonal antibodies. For this he shared the 1984 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Georges Köhler and Niels Jerne.

Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa (1905-1993)

Severo Ochoa was a Spanish-born U.S. biochemist who reproduced in the laboratory the way in which cells synthesize nucleic acids by their use of enzymes. For this achievement, he shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Arthur Kornberg.


Diana Trujillo

Diana Trujillo (1980-)

Diana Trujillo is an aerospace engineer and Technical Group Supervisor for Sequence Planning and Execution and a Tactical Mission Lead for the Mars Perseverance rover at NASA.  She co-created and hosted #JuntosPerseveramos, NASA’s first-ever Spanish-language live broadcast of a planetary landing, for Perseverance’s arrival on Mars.


Evangelina Villegas

Evangelina Villegas (1924-2017)

Evangelina Villegas was a Mexican cereal chemist whose work  led to the development of Quality Protein Maize, which remedied nutritional deficiencies from diets dependent on maize.  In 2000, she became the first woman to receive the World Food Prize which recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

Luis Alvarez

Luis Alvarez (1911-1988)

Luis Alvarez was a U.S. physicist who won the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physics for developing the liquid-hydrogen bubble chamber and detecting new resonant states in particle physics. His research also included developing radar systems and working on the Manhattan Project during World War II. 

Alfonso Caso y Andrade

Alfonso Caso y Andrade (1896-1970)

Alfonso Caso y Andrade was a Mexican archaeologist and anthropologist, who explored the early Oaxacan cultures and is known for his excavation of Tomb Seven at Monte Alban, the earliest known North American necropolis. 

Jacinto Convit

Jacinto Convit (1913-2014)

Jacinto Convit is best known for his fundamental and lasting contributions to the study of Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy.  He is also renowned for pioneering in the field of immunotherapy by developing a successful model of immunotherapy for leprosy. 

Nicole Hernandez Hammer

Nicole Hernandez Hammer

Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher, climate-change expert and environmental-justice advocate. A Guatemalan immigrant of Cuban heritage, she works to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color across the U.S.

Luis Federico Leloir

Luis Federico Leloir (1906-1987)

Luis Federico Leloir was an Argentine chemist who studied glucose metabolism and discovered an alternative mechanism for glycogen synthesis, involving a new enzyme.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1970 for his discovery of sugar nucleotides and their role in carbohydrate biosynthesis.

Mario Molina

Mario Molina (1943-)

Mario J. Molina is a Mexican chemist who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995 with Paul Crutzen and F Sherwood Rowland for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone. They explained the chemical reactions that are destroying the ozone layer.

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski (1993-)

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a theoretical physicist and a first generation Cuban American.  She has degrees from Harvard and MIT and studies such advanced topics as quantum gravity, black holes and space time.


Adriana Ocampo Uria

Adriana Ocampo Uria (1955-)

Adriana Ocampo Uria is a planetary geologist and a Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate (SMD), in the Planetary Science Division responsible for the New Frontiers Program.  Using satellite images, she was the first to recognize that a ring of sinkholes or "cenotes" found in the Yucatan peninsula was related to the buried Chicxulub impact crater. The Chicxulub impact caused the extinction of more than 50% of the Earth species, including the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

Baruj Benacerraf

Baruj Benacerraf (1920-2011)

Baruj Benacerraf was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1980, together with Jean Dausset and George D Snell, for their discovery of immune response genes and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the gene complex involved in the immune response.

Susana López Charretón

Susana López Charretón (1957-)

Susana López Charretón is a virologist and principle investigator at the Institute of Biotechnology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).  Throughout her career, López has made amazing advancements in our understanding of rotavirus.

France A. Córdova

France A. Córdova (1947-)

France A. Córdova served as the Director of the National Science Foundation from 2014-2020.  Her scientific contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation.

Bernardo Alberto Houssay

Bernardo Alberto Houssay  (1887–1971)

Bernardo Alberto Houssay was an Argentine physiologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1947 for determining the function of the pituitary gland in sugar metabolism.  He demonstrated that the pituitary gland produces hormones that greatly influence bodily functions, particularly sugar metabolism.

Ynes Mexia

Ynes Mexia (1870-1938)

Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia was early member of the Sierra Club and an early pioneer in fighting to preserve the redwood forests of Northern California. At age 51, she went back to school to become a botanist and spent 13 years traveling the United States collecting specimens of plants.  She was the first botanist to collect plants in what is now Denali National Park.

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa (1958-)

Ellen Ochoa was the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center, the first Hispanic director and second female director.  She is the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on the space shuttle Discovery in 1993.


Sarah Elizabeth Stewart

Sarah Elizabeth Stewart (1905-1976)

Sarah Elizabeth Stewart was a Mexican-American researcher who pioneered the field of viral oncology research. In 1949, she became the first women to be awarded a Doctorate of Medicine from Georgetown University School of Medicine.  She and her colleague, Dr. Bernice Eddy, were the first to discover the cancer-causing virus, or polyomavirus and the first to successfully demonstrate, through Koch’s postulates, that cancer-causing viruses could be spread from animal to animal.

Lydia Villa-Komaroff

Lydia Villa-Komaroff (1947-)

Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a molecular and cellular biologist and a founding member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native American in Science.  She was a key member of the team that showed for the first time that bacteria could be induced to produce insulin. The research was a milestone in the development of the biotechnology industry.


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