Hispanic Scientists and Engineers
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning more about some of the many Hispanic and Latinx scientists and engineers who have made important contributions to science history.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Scientists to learn more about!
Update! This post has been updated for 2023 to include additional scientists and engineers.
Learn More about these Hispanic and Latinx Scientists and Engineers
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15), we highlight a few of the Hispanic and Latinx scientists and engineers who made (and are making) important contributions to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The list below is only a sampling of noted scientists through history and working in STEM fields today.
To encourage students to learn more about these scientists and to explore related science projects and careers for scientists they find interesting, for each scientist, we have included a short biographical summary, links to 1-2 hands-on science projects related to the scientist's area of study, links to relevant science career profiles, and a link to a biography.
Note: Educators can use this career worksheet to guide student exploration and reflection about STEM careers.
1. Luis Alvarez, physicist
Luis Alvarez was a physicist whose research included particle physics, radar, and nuclear science. He developed multiple radar systems during World War II, worked on the Manhattan Project, and was involved in the development of a liquid hydrogen bubble chamber, which enabled detection of subatomic particles. Alvarez won the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics. (Biography)
Interested in nuclear science and physics? Learn more with science projects like: Particles in the Mist: See Radioactive Particles Decay with Your Own Cloud Chamber! Stealthy Shapes: How to Make an Aircraft Invisible to Radar, and Build Your Own Radon Detector
2. Albert Baez, physicist
Albert Baez studied x-ray optics, both microscopic and telescopic, and co-developed the x-ray reflection microscope. (Biography)
Learn more about related careers: Physicist
3. Helia Bravo Hollis, biologist and botanist
Helia Bravo Hollis was a biologist and botanist whose research focused on the collection and classification of cacti in Mexico. (Biography)
Interested in plant science? Learn more with science projects and activities like: Dissect a Flower, A Toxic Test: Can Plants Be Genetically Resistant to Heavy Metals? and Hydroponics: Gardening Without Soil
Learn more about related careers: Plant Scientist
4. Franklin Chang-Díaz, astronaut
Franklin Chang-Díaz is a mechanical engineer and astronaut. As the first Hispanic NASA astronaut, he was involved in seven space shuttle missions, including Columbia and Endeavor. (Biography)
5. Jacinto Convit, physician
Jacinto Convit developed a vaccine for leprosy that combined Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a tuberculosis vaccine, with a bacteria found in armadillos. (Biography)
6. France Córdova, astrophysicist
France Córdova was the 14th director of the National Science Foundation. As an astrophysicist, Córdova conducted multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and instruments used in space. She also served as NASA's chief scientist and, later, president of Purdue University. (Biography)
Interested in astrophysics and space science? Learn more with a science project like: X-Ray Vision: Seeing Into Space
7. Carlos Juan Finlay, epidemiologist
Carlos Juan Finlay was an epidemiologist who discovered that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes. (Biography)
Interested in epidemiology and public health? Learn more with science projects and activities like: Model How Herd Immunity Works, Fighting the Flu: How Your Immune System Uses Its Memory and BLASTing Flu Viruses
8. Nicole Hernandez Hammer, environmental scientist
Nicole Hernandez Hammer is an environmental scientist and advocate whose research centers upon climate change and the impact of climate change on sea level. (Biography)
Interested in climate change and environmental science? Learn more with science projects like: Polar Puzzle: Will Ice Melting at the North or South Poles Cause Sea Levels to Rise? Is it Getting Hot in Here? Investigate the Greenhouse Effect, and Rooftop Gardens: Are They a Cool Idea?
9. Scarlin Hernandez, aerospace engineer
Interested in space science and engineering? Learn more with science projects like: Test the Webb Space Telescope's Amazing Multiple Mirrors and Sunshield and Satellite Science: How Does Speed Affect Orbiting Altitude?
10. Bernardo Alberto Houssay, physiologist
Bernardo Alberto Houssay was a physiologist who shared the 1947 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research (after the discovery of insulin) on the role of pituitary gland hormones in carbohydrate metabolism. (Biography)
Interested in endocrine science and human biology? Learn more with science projects like: Blood Sugar Balancing Act: How Exercise Tips the Scales, Lactose, Sucrose, and Glucose: How Many Sugars are in Your Smoothie?, and How Sweet It Is! Measuring Glucose in Your Food
11. Césare Lattes
Césare Lattes was a physicist who researched cosmic rays, nuclear physics, and atomic physics. Lattes is credited as one of the discoverers of the pion, a subatomic particle that contains a quark and an antiquark. (Biography)
Interested in atomic physics? Learn more with science projects like: Rainbow Fire Science Project and Watching Nuclear Particles: See Background Radiation Zoom Through A Cloud Chamber
12. Luis Federico Leloir, biochemist
Luis Federico Leloir was a biochemist whose research involved the metabolism of carbohydrates. Leloir won the 1970 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "for his discovery of sugar nucleotides and their role in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates." (Biography)
Interested in metabolism and human biology? Learn more with science projects and activities like: An Aerobic Exercise: Yeast Metabolism with and without Aeration and Sucrose & Glucose & Fructose, Oh My! Uncovering Hidden Sugar in Your Food
Learn more about related careers: Biochemist
13. Susana López Charretón, virologist
Dr. Susana López Charretón is a virologist whose research on rotavirus identified the ways in which it enters the body (separate from the ways it is commonly transmitted). (Biography)
14. Ynes Mexia, botanist
Ynes Mexia was a botanist and plant collector whose field expeditions included traveling along the Amazon River. During her career, she collected more than 150,000 plant samples and is credited with discovering more than 500 new species. (Biography and video (PBS American Masters))
15. César Milstein, chemist
César Milstein was a biochemist who shared the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (with Niels Kaj Jerne and Georges J. F. Köhler) for research related to antibodies and the immune system. (Biography)
Interested in human health and biology? Learn more with science projects like: What are the Odds? Modeling the Chances of Getting an Autoimmune Disease and How Are Antibodies Used for Blood Typing?
16. Mario J. Molina, chemist
Mario J. Molina is a chemist whose work helped identify the negative effect of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (in aerosol sprays, for example) on the Earth’s ozone layer. Molina shared the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with F. Sherwood Rowland and Paul J. Crutzen. (Biography)
Interested in chemistry and environmental science? Learn more with science projects like: Mapping Troposphere Ozone Levels Over Time and It's Raining, It's Pouring: Chemical Analysis of Rainwater
17. Antonia Novello, physician and public health official
Dr. Antonia Novello was appointed as U.S. Surgeon General in 1990 and was the first woman and the first Hispanic person to hold this title. As Surgeon General, Novello was especially concerned with health issues related to women, children, and minorities, including underage drinking and smoking. She spotlighted the tobacco industry's use of advertising targeting children and highlighted the importance of addressing women and children in the AIDS epidemic. (Biography)
Interested in public health? Learn more with science projects like: Pretty Packaging: Can Attractive Packaging Lead to Healthier Eating? and Under Pressure: Does a Child's Blood Pressure Depend on His or Her Age?
18. Adriana Ocampo, planetary geologist
Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist at NASA. Her research led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico (the site of a meteor impact theorized to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs). Ocampo has worked on numerous planetary imaging projects, including the Viking mission to Mars, the Voyager mission, and the Galileo mission. (Biography and video (NASA))
19. Ellen Ochoa, astronaut and engineer
Ellen Ochoa is an astronaut and engineer and was the first Hispanic woman in space on the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She logged almost 1,000 hours in orbit and went on to serve as Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. (Biography)
Interested in astronomy and engineering? Learn more with science projects and activities like: Test the Webb Space Telescope's Amazing Multiple Mirrors and Sunshield and Protect Your 'Eggstronaut': Build an Egg-Drop Lander
Learn more about related careers: Aerospace Engineer
20. Severo Ochoa, biochemist
Severo Ochoa was a biochemist and shared the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology for discovery of a bacterial enzyme related to the synthesis of RNA. (Biography)
Interested in biochemistry? Learn more with science projects like: Forensic Science: Building Your Own Tool for Identifying DNA, Genetically Modified Organisms: Create Glowing Bacteria!, and Computational Exploration of Protein Function
21. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski, physicist
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a physicist whose research led to discovery of the "spin memory effect" for evaluating the effects of gravitational waves. Named to several "Top 30 Under 30" lists, Pasterski is also an advocate for STEM for girls. (Biography)
Learn more about related careers: Physicist
22. Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias, pediatrician
Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias was a pediatrician and set up the first care facility for newborns in Puerto Rico. Throughout her career, she focused on improving public health (and access) for women, children, and low-income populations. She was the first Latina president of the American Public Health Association. (Biography)
23. Pedro A. Sanchez, soil scientist
Pedro A. Sanchez is a soil scientist whose work has helped increase successful farming in tropical areas in South America that were thought to be unsuitable for agriculture. He also help improve agroforestry in Africa. (Biography)
Interested in agricultural science? Learn more with science projects like: Can Biodegradable Hydrogels Help Conserve Water in Farming?, How Does Soil Affect the pH of Water?, and Build a Circuit to Automatically Water Your Plants
24. Sarah Stewart, microbiologist
Sarah Stewart was a microbiologist whose research showed that viruses could cause cancer, a discovery that led to the development of vaccines to protect against certain kinds of cancer. (Biography)
Learn more about related careers: Microbiologist
25. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, biologist
Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a biologist whose research on recombinant DNA uncovered a way to use bacteria cells to make insulin. (Biography)
Interested in biology and biotechnology? Learn more with science projects like: CRISPR Gene Editing of Escherichia coli, Why Aren't All Medicines Pills?, and Genetically Engineer Yeast to be Fluorescent
26. Evangelina Villegas, chemist
Evangelina Villegas was a chemist whose work centered on cereal grains and the genetic engineering of wheat and maize with improved nutritional content to help fight malnutrition in areas around the world. (Biography)
STEM Career Worksheet
To encourage students to learn more about these scientists and to explore related careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, use our free STEM Career Worksheet along with this post.
If you use the "Get Inspired by these Hispanic Scientists and Engineers" post and career worksheet with students, we would love to hear your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments or story.
Diversity in STEM
To help students see themselves with a future in STEM and to broaden understanding of science history, it is important for students to learn about a diverse range of scientists and engineers. This includes celebrating the stories of women, African American, Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Native American scientists and engineers, scientists with disabilities, and other scientists from around the world.
Note: Individual scientist photos used in this post are in the public domain with exception of:
Albert Baez (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Helia Bravo Hollis (Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Nicole Hernandez Hammer (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Mario Molina (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski (Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Lydia Villa-Komaroff (Amy Poehler's Smart Girls)
Paul A. Sanchez (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
Evangelina Villegas (CIMMYT, CC BY-SA 4.0)
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