The Diversity of Scientists: thanks and farewell Greetchen Diaz

What an amazing week we were treated to from the super passionate Greetchen Diaz! She started off with a discussion of the different paths people take into science. Some are straight and traditional, while there are many of us who have taken a more curly wurly route, or dabbled in a few different fields before deciding where to focus our energies. From astronomers becoming psychologists to artists becoming biologists, the responses Greetchen elicited showed that maybe the typical route into science is not so typical after all.

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Help me doctor, the non-stop epic scients content from @RealScientists every week is sending me batty!

Greetchen also has a wide range of interests outside of science and put the question to the followers of @realscientists asking what their hobbies and interests outside of science were. The diversity of responses that flooded in was incredible. From sports and outdoor activities to cooking and baking to painting, drawing and knitting – turns out there are a lot of scientists out there who enjoy an immense assortment of activities when they’re not sciencing (note to self: must get a hobby…)

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Greet’s self-portrait. such talent very art wow!

Finally, another topic that Greetchen covered extensively was diversity in science, in particular the representation of women and minority groups. Again she curated an unbelievable range of responses from women scientists, showing us what  working in science means to them. All of this, combined with Greetchen’s work for Ciencia Puerto Rico (a non-profit organization dedicated to promote science and education in Puerto Rico), really gave us an inisight into what drives Greetchen, and her passion certainly shined through this week.

As always, you can catch up on any of the dicsussions you might have missed on Storify, and you can continue to follow Greetchen on twitter, @GreetDiaz.

Science, art, and everything in between: welcome Dr Greetchen Díaz to RealScientists

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).’

Dr. G. Diaz

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.

Dr.Greet

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!