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15 Hispanic Powerhouses in the Field of Advanced Technology

by Kristina Drye, on Sep 22, 2021 9:14:00 AM

This month is Hispanic Heritage Month, a month to recognize the contributions of the Hispanic population to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. In this blog post, we’ll explore the contributions of Hispanic scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and others to the fields of advanced technology. 

Evelyn Miralles, University of Houston-Clear Lake (Venezuelan) 

Miralles led the NASA Virtual Reality Laboratory at Johnson Space Center, where she innovated in the field of software, specifically in simulating space operations. Her work was practically applied in training astronauts to spacewalk and work outside in micro-gravity. She is currently the associate vice president for Strategic Information Initiatives and Technology at the University of Houston Clear Lake. 

Lilian Rincon, Google (Venezualan)

Rincon is a leader in the Google Assistant initiative at Google. With her previous work at Skype, her time at Google is defined by using AI and ML to innovate features and functions for the Google Assistant Platform.

Ignacio Contreras, Qualcomm (Chilean)

Contreras is the senior director at Qualcomm Technologies, where his specialty is working to standardize the 5G network. Contreras believes that soon, 5G will no longer be premium, but the norm. Contreras’ research focuses on the Internet of Things; he holds two patents for small cells and electric vehicle charging systems.

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski, Princeton University (Cuban)

Pasterki, often described as the world’s “next Albert Einstein”, studies high energy physics - specifically black holes and spacetime, exploring the role of gravity within quantum mechanics. Pasterski has been widely cited and is currently a postdoc at Princeton University’s Princeton Center for Theoretical Science.

Scarlin Hernandez, James Webb Space Telescope (Quisqueyana)

Hernandez, a spacecraft engineer, works to test and verify the ground systems that are used to command and control the James Webb Space Telescope. With a background in computer engineering and astronautical engineering, Hernandez has also worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She also founded the Women Empowering Women Group at STScl.

Luis Alvarez, Physicist (Spanish)

Alvarez’s research included particle physics, radar, and nuclear science. His work included developing radar systems during WWII, working on the Manhattan Project, and developing the liquid hydrogen bubble chamber. In 1968 Alvarez won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

France Cordova, Astrophysicist (Mexican)

Cordova was the 14th director of the National Science Foundation, the chief scientist of NASA, and president of Purdue University. Her work included multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources in space. She is now the President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance.

Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena, NASA (Mexican)

Camarena’s patented Chromoscopic Adapter for Television Equipment (US Patent 2,296,019) was one of the earliest color television transmitters, later used by NASA’s Voyager in 1979 to photograph Jupiter.

Luis Von Ahn (Guatemalan)

Von Ahn is the creator of what we know as “Captcha”, the tool that enables a computer to distinguish between human and machine input to prevent spam and nefarious data extraction from websites. Von Ahn’s patent is US Patent #8,555,353 for “Methods and Apparatuses for Controlling Access to Computer Systems and for Annotating Media Files.” In addition to this innovation, Von Ahn is the co-founder of Duolingo and is currently its CEO.

Ellen Ochoa, NASA (Mexican)

Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman astronaut, embarking on four missions with NASA that amounted to 978 hours in outer space. She also helped develop three patents in the field of optics that helped NASA process information from missions. Her patents were developed during her time at Stanford University, and their innovation came in the ways they helped computers process information faster and more efficiently. Until 2018, Dr. Ochoa was the director of the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Daniel Loreto, Founder (Venezuelan)


Loreto is an up-and-coming machine learning professional, whose work includes names like Google, Twitter, Airbnb, and Virta Health. His work focuses on AI, question-and-answering systems, and information extraction and retrieval. He recently began work on his own company, Jetpack.IO, which transforms the ways engineers write scalable backends on the cloud.

Carlos Guestrin, Apple (Brazilian)

Guestrin is the Director of Machine Learning at Apple. He is also the Amazon Professor of Machine Learning in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where he co-directs SAMPL, an interdisciplinary ML research group addressing the problems at the intersection between ML, systems, computer architecture, and programming languages.

Cesar Hidalgo, MIT Media Lab (Chilean)

Hidalgo is the Head of the Collective Learning Group at the MIT Media Lab. He also teaches media arts and sciences at MIT. His work at the MIT Media Lab focuses on collective learning. He and his team develop analytical tools and models to understand collective learning and help improve learning in organizations. The tools include, but are not limited to, the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Pantheon, DataViva, DataUSA, and DIVE.

Jessica J. Marquez, NASA (Peruvian)

Marquez is a Research Engineer at the Human System Integration Division of NASA Ames Research Center, where she develops tools for people who support human space exploration. Prior work includes the International Space Station and the Constellation Program. Marquez’s research interests include human-computer interactions, space exploration, and space human factors.

Joaquin Quinonero Candela, Facebook (Spanish)

Candela leads the technical strategy for Responsible AI at Facebook. This work includes fairness, inclusiveness, robustness, privacy, transparency, and accountability. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Partnership on AI, and on the Spanish National Advisory Council on AI. His work includes applied research in machine learning, driving product impact through scale, and computer vision.



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