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Mav Roundup

STEM Diversity

Mavericks advance minority representation in physics

Jackie Baeza-Rubio and Denise Huerta

Jackie Baeza-Rubio and Denise Huerta know that the number of Hispanics who study physics and make their careers in the field is small. They are playing an active role in helping change that.

Baeza-Rubio, a junior in physics, and Huerta, who earned her bachelor’s degree in physics at UTA and is now a doctoral student at Notre Dame, are making unique contributions to the development of new techniques to study the neutrino, a subatomic particle with very small mass that travels at near lightspeeds and is very difficult to detect.

The pair was recently named to the board of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP), an organization that encourages Hispanic students to study physics. Huerta will serve as the graduate student representative and Baeza-Rubio will serve as the undergraduate student representative for 2021-22.

Huerta and Baeza-Rubio, who are both first-generation college students, say they are honored to serve. Baeza- Rubio notes that it’s important for Hispanic women to have role models in science.

“Not having role models can steer Hispanic women away from STEM,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to have lots of mentors. Now with this NSHP position, I can make sure other students who faced or are facing challenges similar to mine have someone to look to for advice.”

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