Raúl Cuero was recently chosen as Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry 2013 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. Mr. Cuero is an inventor and president/research director of the International Park of Creativity in Bogota, Colombia.
For the past 11 years, MOSI, a nonprofit and educational resource center, has awarded 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 and a Nobel laureate of chemistry. The award was prompted in 2000 when statistics showed a high drop-out rate for Hispanic students, according to a MOSI spokesperson.
Mr. Cuero is renowned for his work in the field of biotechnology, and he was a research scientist and professor at Texas A&M University in 2008.
"I practice science for the pleasure of creating new knowledge and paradigms, therefore, I approach science from the integrated perspective," Mr.Cuero told HispanicBusiness.com. "I integrate all sciences. Although I apply all these integrated approach to all aspects such as synthetic biology that with the construction of new genes and also within the context of biogenesis – origin of life."
As a NASA scientific research collaborator in astrobiology and biogenesis, he developed a natural molecule to protect the skin from the effects of UV radiation that lead to skin cancer, according to a press release. This technology will protect astronauts from the effects of UV rays.
Mr. Cuero was born in Buenaventura, Colombia. During the 1950s, about 30 percent of children in his hometown died from diseases such as parasites, malaria, tuberculosis and viral diseases before reaching the age of 10. This served as a catalyst for his career.
At IPOC, where he is the founder, president, and research director, the objectives are to create young inventors under the mentorship of inventors; to create and/or invent new technologies and products for global markets; implement scientific research and developments for diverse industries and/or other institutions seeking new technologies and products for a competitive global market. It also serves as a "think tank" center for economic, social, scientific and technological development, according to a press release.
In 1986, Mr. Cuero was one of the first scientists to go to China and South Africa to lecture on biotechnology. He has been published in more than 110 scientific journals in the fields of biology, microbiology, molecular biology and synthetic biology.
HispanicBusiness.com spoke to Mr. Cuero, about Hispanics in science, or a lack thereof.
HispanicBusiness.com: It's not a big secret that Hispanics don't go on to study science-related fields in higher education -- how does this make you feel?
Raúl Cuero: It is a reality, but I don't have to feel too bad, as long as we are in the process of evolving and developing. We shouldn't be looking at a particular ethnic group from one group or one event. We should look throughout history. And the Hispanic population has made great contributions to the world in many different ways. It just happened that after the industrial revolution, here in this part of the world the new Hispanic population, because of economic differences we aren't able to come and strike immediately in a system like America. I can see now after 45 years of living in America and they are making progress and I'm quite sure that they indeed are going to make a big difference.
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