US Women scientists from Latin America to encourage colleagues from south

Washington, D.C.- 12 August 2002Araceli Espinosa-Jeffrey, Nora Sabelli, and Maria Josefina Coloma have much more in common than their birthplaces in Latin countries and the career paths that have led them to become top scientists in the United States.

As young women, the three had realized that the way they looked at the world would take them far from home, challenge them to overcome traditional expectations of women, and make them seek mentors and money that would help earn them the PhDs they would need to become full-fledged researchers.

Now, with years of successful work behind them, Sabelli, Espinosa and Coloma, all of whom live and work in California, have been chosen to tell their stories at a meeting of scientists in Costa Rica on August 28, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and CONICIT, Costa Ricas national research agency, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

"We have selected these women for their outstanding work as scientists and engineers, and for their compelling personal stories about the challenges they faced in the pursuit of a scientific career," said Alan I. Leshner, CEO of AAAS. "We hope that the experiences of these distinguished scientists will inspire young women to become scientists and engineers, and provide them with a strategy for getting there."

Araceli Espinosa-Jeffrey, 47 and a neurochemist at the Neuropsychiatry Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, collected spiders and window mosquitoes at her home in Mexico City when she was five, and knew that she wanted to be a chemist by the time she was ten. By 17, she had settled on biology. But her parents disagreed.

It was as if a newborn bird had been put in a cage with kangaroos, she said of her efforts to study mathematicsher parents choice. I was strong enough to move toward what I wanted, rather than doing what my parents wanted me to do. I believe that my story might help so

Contact: Lisa Onaga
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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