UPRM Students become Distinguished
UPRM Students become Distinguished
By UPRM Press Editorial Staff
Translated by Tia Gilson

Friday, January 16th 2009                           [ versión español ]

The first semester of the academic year of 2008-09 was marked by great achievements that were obtained by University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez’s (UPRM) professors and students in research projects as well as competitions.

UPRM students win NWF environmental Contest

A group of students of the UPRM Green Campus won the environmental competition where a plan of action to implement “green” methods in their institution was submitted. The students, led by Axel Ramírez and doctor Sandra Cruz-Pol, submitted their proposal before the program Campus Ecology of the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF).

The methods, which help to stop global warming, included a series of activities related to recycling, transportation, nature, energy and water conservation, among others. Among some of the activities planned by the group were: Ride-a-Bike, a bicycle marathon to create awareness of the importance of using this method of transportation to stop global warming and to help personal health. Also, raising the percentage of materials recycled at UPRM from 28 percent to 50 percent, getting involved in the cleaning of beaches, planting 100 trees on campus, the promotion of vegetarian and organic foods, along with other initiatives, all in attempt to stop global warming.

Since 1988, the NWF program Campus Ecology works with more than 500 universities to create awareness of the global crisis of the climate changes and to help campuses to adopt solutions to this problem. Since 2007 it also urges the lessening of greenhouse gas emissions.

Engineering Student Scholarships

Students Nayomi Plaza and Maxuel Cruz of the Alliance for the Investigation and Education of Nanostructured and Functional Materials received scholarships from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award (HENAAC). Nayomi also received a Boeing Scholarship and was chosen by NASA to participate in a summer research program at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Ronald Carrasquillo, undergraduate student of the Chemical Engineering Department (INQU by its Spanish acronym) conceded the Grants-in-Aid of the honor society Sigma XI. Ninoshka Cantres also of INQU was one of four students selected to receive a travel grant from the American Ceramics Society. Cantres attended the annual meeting of Materials Science and Technology that recently took place. In said meeting, eight UPRM students participated in the competition of scientific posters.

Thanks to excellent performances by the students, the first chapter of Materials Research Society, outside of the continental United States, will be established and its headquarters here at UPRM. This society is the research society that covers the biggest materials in the world.


The Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award (HENAAC), a non-profit organization that focuses on the promotion of studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for Hispanics, recognized Wilmel Varela, graduate of the Department of Civil Engineering. He was awarded the prize for the Most Promising Engineer of 2008.

Due to his academic excellence, Varela was the winner in 2003 of the Etienne Totti Award (Civil Engineering Department, 2003) and the Alberto Richa Award of American General Contractors. That year he graduated receiving his bachelor’s degree this year with a grade point average of 3.95. Later he pursued graduate studies in the UPRM Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying.

Physics Bronze Medal and Honor Mention

Puerto Rico, for the first time, participated in the Latin American Olympics in Physics which took place in Mexico. In the 13th year of the competition, participants included teams formed by high school students under the age of 18, from 19 different Latin American countries. The team from Puerto Rico included doctors Raúl Portuondo Duany and Héctor Jiménez González; both professors at the UPRM Department of Physics. They were in charge of preparing students: Rolando La Placa Massa, junior from Notre Dame School in Caguas, and David Alfonso Rivera, senior from St. John’s School in San Juan.

The competition entails two exams, one on theory and the other experimental, each one five hours in duration. At the competition, both Puerto Rican students were awarded with prizes. David Alfonso won the Honorable Mention and Rolando La Placa won the Bronze Medal. Having been the first time Puerto Rico has participated in the event, their performance represents a great achievement for both the students and the professors.

Student Chapter ACS gets Recognition

The UPRM student chapter of the American Chemistry Society was newly bestowed with the title of Outstanding Chapter, an award given by the American Chemical Society at an international level. The student chapter ACS also received the Green Chemistry Award.

Sigma XI Receives the Diversity Award

Sigma XI, UPRM Chapter, the society of scientific investigation, received the Diversity Award 2007-08, during the organization’s annual conference in Washington. This award recognized the impact of the work that the Chapter carried out, their level of initiative and influence in increasing the participation of groups not represented in the areas of science and engineering.

In customary order, doctor Héctor Jiménez González, students Rolando La Placa Massa and David Alfonso Rivera, and doctor Raúl Portuondo Duany.
In customary order, doctor Héctor Jiménez González, students Rolando La Placa Massa and David Alfonso Rivera, and doctor Raúl Portuondo Duany.

Courtesy photo.