Adriana Mulero-Russe, a first-year Ph.D. student in the interdisciplinary Bioengineering program based in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been selected as a 2019 Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow.
Mulero-Russe, whose home school at Georgia Tech is the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is one of only 40 scholars in the year-long program this go-round. The students kicked off their year as fellows of the Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development this week (Feb. 14-18) by attending the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
It’s exactly the kind of networking opportunity Mulero-Russe was hoping for when she applied for the highly competitive program.
“I still feel new to everything, and I’m eager to learn how to network with other people in similar areas of research,” she said. “I expect to put these skills into play in the four years I have ahead of me as a Ph.D. student.”
The Yale Ciencia Academy was developed in 2016 by Ciencia Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization comprised of scientists, students, citizens, and professionals committed to the advancement of science in Puerto Rico and with promoting science communication, education, and careers.
The career development program targets grad students studying biomedical and behavioral sciences in Puerto Rico and the U.S., giving them an opportunity to participate in workshops, conversations with scientists, mentoring, networking and another thing that really resonated strongly for Mulero-Russe, science outreach.
Outside of research, one of her passions is sharing her knowledge of science with the community. Her long-term goals include combining her desire to teach and inspire others with research and engineering.
“I envision becoming a professor, teaching and spreading knowledge and confidence to other students, helping them see that they’re capable of achieving their goals in life,” said Mulero-Russe, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) in 2018.
She was able to leverage her great interest in the use of biomaterials in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to become part of the Georgia Tech biomaterials training grant. Last semester she worked in the lab of Petit Institute researcher Nick Willett.
Currently, she’s doing her research in the lab of Petit Institute Executive Director Andrés J. García, who is also a native of Puerto Rico, the unincorporated U.S. island territory that was hammered by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, when Mulera-Russe was heading into the home stretch of her undergraduate studies. She said her family was lucky to escape major damage, but they didn’t have power or water for several months.
“It was definitely a rough moment for all of us, but we’re resilient. We have a strong spirit in Puerto Rico – our group mentality is to think and work as a community,” said Mulera-Russe, who would ultimately like to be a professor back home. “My goal is to return to Puerto Rico, to give back to the community what they gave me. I’d really like to be a model for future Puerto Rican students.”