Our curator this week is Dr Greetchen Díaz (aka @greetdiaz) of the Nebraska Center for Virology, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Greetchen hails from Puerto Rico, describing herself as ‘a Latina who loves art, music, history and science (not necessarily in that order).’
Greetchen was the first member of her family to complete an advanced degree, and was inspired to succeed by her science and math teachers at school – her intellectual curiosity inspired by the encyclopedia she read as a child, learning about science, history, geography and cultures. Greetchen studied in a math and science specialized high school, an hour away from her town. During those years she thought of becoming an astronomer, fascinated by space and the possibility of discovering life on other planets. Then, she learned that she was not good at physics, so maybe being an astronomer was not a such good idea at all! She became interested in biology and after high school she completed her Bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, followed by a Masters in biology in the same university. Her Masters research investigated the fungal diversity present at a hypersaline environment in Puerto Rico. She subsequently enrolled in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology interdisciplinary program at The Ohio State University where she worked in Anita Hopper’s laboratory at the Molecular Genetics department using yeast as a genetic model to study protein trafficking to the nuclear membrane for her PhD. In 2012, Greetchen joined the Nebraska Center for Virology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As a postdoc, she is using yeast as a genetic model to study DNA replication and maintenance of the Human papilloma virus (HPV), which infects human keratinocytes of the skin or mucous membranes and its long-term persistence causes precancerous lesions and invasive cancer.
Greetchen aspires to be a professor in academia. Her objective is to be part of the new generation of scientists interested in developing programs to improve undergraduate education and research experience in STEM for minorities. She would like to use different and innovative strategies in science teaching, research and science communication:
As a scientist, I have always enjoyed to communicate my research results to scientific audiences. However, what I enjoy the most is to simplify scientific data and communicate complex concepts to general audiences in presentations that will be easier to understand and apply.
Since 2008, Greetchen has been a volunteer of “Ciencia Puerto Rico” (@CienciaPR; www.cienciapr.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to promote science and education in Puerto Rico. During her time with CienciaPR she has worked on different initiatives to increase science education, science literacy and public understanding of science. At CienciaPR, she is the founder of the photo-blog Science is all around you which highlights images from the natural world in Puerto Rico and explains the science behind them. Also, Greetchen is the founder of the blog section “Borinqueña”, which emphasizes on the contribution of Puerto Rican and Hispanic women in science, and provides a space to discuss topics of interest about the empowerment of women. Greetchen writes, edits, identifies topics, and manages teams of bloggers and guests contributors for both blogs. In addition, she is part of the team of writers/editors of the featured CienciaPR monthly story were they profile the work of an outstanding CienciaPR member or discuss a scientific topic of relevance to their community.
As a scientist, I believe that communicating science is crucial for our society as it contributes to its economical and educational development. I understand that it is an important component of our democracy. I believe we have the right to know about the scientific discoveries that will impact our lives. Also, it is important for the general public to know about the people who make science (the scientist) and their important role in our community. I see me in the future not only as a researcher and an educator but also as an effective communicator that will motivate people’s curiosity about science and discoveries. ¡Que viva la ciencia!
We are thrilled to have Greetchen tweeting for us this week on the account, and trust you will be too!