By Michael Haederle

Major Mentor

HSC Researcher Listed Among 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in America

C. Fernando Valenzuela, MD, PhD, Regents’ Professor in the UNM Department of Neurosciences, has been named one of 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in America by Cell Mentor, an online imprint in the Cell Press family of scientific journals.

The listing, published in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, was based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our aim in assembling these names is to put an end to the harmful myth that there are not enough diverse scientists to give seminars, serve as panelists, or fill scientific positions,” the publication said.

fernando-valenzuela-phd.jpg“Although we understand this list is not fully representative of the Hispanic/Latinx scientific community, we hope it will help to change the perception of what a scientist looks like and makes our collective image more representative of society at large.”

Valenzuela, who serves as the scientific and associate director of the New Mexico Alcohol Research Center, studies how alcohol affects the developing nervous system to gain a better understanding of the neurobiology of alcoholism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

“I was really surprised,” Valenzuela said. “It was a wonderful, unexpected honor.” Mentoring students has been central to his work as a researcher at UNM.

“I enjoy mentoring students on all levels,” Valenzuela said. “I get a lot of joy to see them progress and gaining confidence in their skills and knowledge. I’m always very proud of their accomplishments and to see them do well in the clinic or make fantastic discoveries and continue training the next generation.”

Bill Shuttleworth, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosciences, hailed Valenzuela’s inclusion on the Cell Mentor list.

“Fernando is absolutely inspiring,” Shuttleworth said. “He’s a great scientist and a great mentor – humble, generous, rigorous and effective – quite a  combination that places him in elite company on this list as an role model nationally. We’re very lucky to have him at UNM.”

Valenzuela completed his medical degree at the Universidad el Bosque School of Medicine in Bogota, Colombia, and earned his PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside. He later completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center before coming to UNM in 1998.

Two UNM Main Campus faculty members joined Valenzuela on the Cell Mentor list.

Gabriel P. Lopez, PhD, Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering and UNM’s Vice President for Research, specializes in developing cutting edge biomedical technology. He has received 34 UNM-affiliated U.S. patents.

Margaret Werner-Washburne, PhD, Regents’ Professor Emerita in the Department of Biology, has been recognized for devotings much of her career to promoting greater diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.








Categories: Diversity, Education, Research, School of Medicine, Top Stories