University of Georgia

UGA student joins new class of young science leaders

Yale science leader

University of Georgia ecology doctoral student David Vasquez was one of 40 young science leaders chosen to be a fellow of the Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development. He attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting held Feb. 14-17 in Washington, D.C.

Vasquez, a third-year student in the Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales doctoral program, is studying how ecological and environmental conditions can affect the fitness and geographic range of parasites. He is supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and by the IDEAS traineeship program.

The Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development provides graduate students with opportunities for mentoring, networking and skills development, and for making contributions to their communities through science outreach. The program is led by the nonprofit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico, in collaboration with Yale University.

Fellows must apply to be selected to participate in the year-long, mostly virtual program, which leverages the CienciaPR community—one of the largest networks of Hispanic/Latinx scientists in the world—to connect doctoral students in biological, biomedical, health and behavioral sciences with advisors, mentors and professional development opportunities. Through workshops and virtual conversations with successful scientists, participants can explore different careers, define their academic and career goals, expand their networks, and acquire communication and leadership skills. The program also allows students to have an impact on society through science outreach. In addition, participants attend an in-person meeting at the AAAS conference, where they participate in program-organized workshops and meeting sessions.

“The Yale Ciencia Academy complements traditional graduate training with access to a diverse network of peers, role models and advisors”, said Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, principal investigator and director of the YCA. “The goal is to help students gain clarity in their academic and professional goals and become the scientists they want to be. We are excited about the talent and promise among this new class of YCA fellows.”

Started in 2016 and funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, YCA has trained 114 young scientists from more than 50 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico to date. Over the past two years, YCA Fellows have completed 85 outreach projects, including podcasts, lesson plans for educators, school visits, and articles and talks for the general public, impacting nearly 16,000 people. The 2019 class is composed of 40 students from 31 institutions nationwide.