Tampa, FL (May 15, 2014) – Tampa’s Museum of Science & Industry, along with presenting sponsor Bright House Networks, has chosen their 2014 honoree for the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year, Dr. Rafael Bras, Civil Engineer and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia Tech. In addition, MOSI is pleased to announce that it has expanded the event with the addition of a new Early Career award. The inaugural recipient is Dr. Ana Maria Rey, a physicist and assistant research professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Dr. Bras’ diverse areas of expertise include environmental engineering and managing water resources. He has served as the Chair of the MIT faculty, an elected fellow of multiple prestigious academies including AGU, ACSE, AMS and AAAS, worked with NASA, and he chairs a panel of experts that supervises the design and construction of a multi-billion dollar project to protect the City of Venice from floods. In 1997, Bras was named one of the top 100 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business and, in 2013, he was named to the US Dept. of Energy Advisory Board.
Bras, a native of Puerto Rico, studied at MIT where he received a bachelor’s (1972) and master’s degree (1974) in Civil Engineering, and a science doctorate in Water Resources and Hydrology (1975). On completion of his doctorate, he worked for a time as an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Engineering, and performed some consulting work on the island. He returned to MIT in July 1976, where he has served for more than 32 years as a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and held an appointment in the Departments of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He is a past chair of the MIT faculty, former head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, and director of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory at MIT.
Our 2014 Early Career National Hispanic Scientist of the Year recipient, Dr. Ana Maria Rey, is a Columbian physicist at the University of Colorado, Boulder who “studies the scientific interface between atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter physics and quantum information science.” As an outstanding scientist, among her many scientific accolades, she has been awarded a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship and a 2013 Presidential Early Career award. Rey earned her B.S. at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá Colombia and her Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Maryland.
“We look forward to hosting these two outstanding scientists,” said Wit Ostrenko, MOSI president. “It’s an honor for MOSI to present this award to Dr. Bras, and celebrating the early achievements that Dr. Rey has accomplished so quickly in her young career. This ties to MOSI’s mission and core ideology of making science real and demonstrates MOSI’s core values on the power of S.T.E.A.M. education for our youth.”
For the past 12 years, MOSI has recognized nationally distinguished Hispanic science and engineering professionals to serve as role models and mentors for Tampa Bay’s Hispanic youth. Past honorees include a former U.S. Surgeon General; a Nobel Laureate of Chemistry; a NASA astronaut; the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health; a Harvard professor of pathology and former chief of immunogenetics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; a seismologist and former director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE), Washington, D.C.; an industrial engineer and the first Hispanic to serve as the acting head of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF); a molecular biologist and founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Director and Chief Executive of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History; a marine biologist; and, most recently, a renowned inventor and president/research director of the International Park of Creativity in Colombia.
MOSI will present this year’s National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award to Dr. Bras and the Early Career Award to Dr. Rey during a gala award ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. Additionally, MOSI will hold a S.T.E.A.M. Professional Leadership Forum luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 9 to promote the exchange of ideas in relation to S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education as it directly correlates to the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year.
The idea for the development of this award at MOSI came from local business woman Maruchi Azorin-Blanco, who was greatly concerned by the statistics showing an alarmingly high dropout rate for Hispanic students. At the time, the Department of Education research showed that Hispanics were more likely to drop out of high school than any other ethnic group in the U.S. While improving, these trends are persisting and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 2012 dropout rate for Hispanic students was 13% compared to 8% for African Americans and 4% for Caucasians. 
In an effort to combat this type of disparity in the Hispanic community, proceeds from the event help provide more than 1,200 students from underserved communities and low-income schools an exciting day of mentoring with Dr. Bras and Dr. Rey, and access to over 450 MOSI hands-on exhibits during Meet the Hispanic Scientist Day, which will take place on Friday, Oct. 10. Event proceeds also help to fund MOSI’s YES! Team, an educational enrichment and vocational training program designed to help at-risk youth develop and progress in a supportive peer-group environment.
For more information on the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year and the Early Career National Hispanic Scientist, visit MOSI.org or call 813-987-6000.
About MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
MOSI is a not-for-profit, community-based institution and educational resource dedicated to advancing public interest, knowledge, and understanding of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and is home to the only IMAX® DOME Theatre in the state of Florida. With a total size of more than 400,000 square feet, MOSI is the largest science center in the southeastern United States. Learn through play inside Kids In Charge! the largest Children’s Science Center in the nation; The Amazing You—a 13,000-square-foot exhibition on health and wellness; or Disasterville, featuring Bay News 9 WeatherQuest, which combines education and 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits on the science behind natural disasters. Conquer your fears on MOSI’s Sky Trail® Ropes Course, featuring 35 elements on a 12 – 36-foot-high, multilevel structure, or soar 700 feet on the Sky Trail Zip Line. Budding inventors can engineer anything imaginable and hold it in the palm of their hand in MOSI’s new technology playground and inventor’s studio, Idea Zone, and preschoolers can experiment with friction and collision physics in Slippery Science, a PNC Passport to Science – Grow Up Great Initiative. Additionally, MOSI recently unveiled its newest exhibition Mission: Moonbase, funded in part by NASA, where guests can travel to the moon to operate a lunar colony. MOSI is the proud winner of the 2009 National Medal for Museums by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor for museums. For more information on MOSI, visit www.mosi.org.
Former MOSI National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award honorees
Dr. Raul Cuero (2013), Director of the International Park of Creativity, Colombia; Dr. Nora D. Volkow (2012),Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health; Cristián Samper (2011), Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History; Dr. Dan Arvizu (2010), Director and Chief Executive of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Dr. Nils J. Diaz (2009), Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff (2008), Molecular Biologist; Dr. Louis A. Martin-Vega (2007), Industrial Engineer; Dr. Inés Cifuentes (2006), Seismologist; Dr. Edmond J. Yunis (2005), Physician, Researcher, Harvard professor; Dr. Antonia Coello Novello (2004), former U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Mario Molina (2003), Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Fernando “Frank” Caldeiro (2002), NASA Astronaut; Dr. Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez (2001), Marine Biologist.
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 U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2012. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_coj.asp