Boricua Planeteers 🇵🇷

The Boricua Planeteers is a networking and public engagement group for Puerto Rican (i.e., Boricua) scientists in the space and planetary sciences, broadly defined, and includes but is not limited to planetary science, astronomy, astrophysics, and the geosciences. Our vision is to promote Boricua science by increasing the visibility of Puerto Rican scientists and engaging the public in scientific discovery. Visibility comes with mentoring and networking, as we work towards increasing the representation of Puerto Ricans and Latinx in the sciences. Engaging the public comes with removing the stereotypes and cliches of Puerto Ricans and Latinx that have traditionally created road blocks for many (e.g., unconscious biases).

We are the Boricua Planeteers!

Meet the Team!

Feel free to reach out to us for mentoring, networking, job opportunities, or more information. And follow us on Twitter!

Dr. Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín

  • Staff Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute, USRA
  • Ph.D. in Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas
  • B.A. in Physics, Mathematics, Alfred University
  • Research Interests: Investigates the evolution of Solar System bodies through impact cratering, atmosphere-regolith interactions, and planetary radar techniques, with an emphasis on past and present habitability.
  • Key Words: Icy Satellites, Mars, Astrobiology, Early Solar System, Impact Cratering, Numerical Modeling, Planetary Radar, Water on Mars, Volatile Transport
  • Contact: email; @PlanetTreky
  • From Arecibo, PR; currently living in Houston, TX; fluent in Spanish and English

Dr. Desireé Cotto Figueroa

  • Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico Humacao
  • Director, UPRH Astronomical Observatory
  • Ph.D., M.S. in Physics, Ohio University
  • B.S. in Applied Physics, UPRH
  • Research Interests: Characterization of Near-Earth Asteroids, radiation recoil effects on the dynamical evolution of asteroids, scale-dependent measurements of meteorite strength and the implications for the fragmentation of PHAs.
  • Key Words: Near-Earth Asteroids, YORP effect, Yarkovsky effect, meteorites
  • Contact: email; @dcottofi
  • From Guayama, PR; currently living in Humacao, PR; fluent in Spanish and English

Prof. Abel Méndez

  • Associate Professor, University of Puerto Rico Arecibo
  • Director, Planetary Habitability Lab
  • M.S., B.S. Biophysics/Theoretical Physics, UPR Mayagüez
  • Research Interests: Suitability of planetary environments for life, habitable exoplanets, radio astronomy, orbital dynamics, and theoretical ecology.
  • Key words: Astrobiology, Exoplanets, Habitability
  • Contact: email; @ProfAbelMendez
  • From Vega Baja, PR; fluent in Spanish and English

Dr. Frances Rivera-Hernandez

  • Postdoctoral Scientist, Dartmouth College
  • Ph.D. Geology, University of California, Davis
  • M.S. Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington
  • B.S. Astrophysics, B.S. Geology, University of Wyoming
  • Research interests: Reconstruct past planetary surface processes and climate by integrating sedimentologic, geomorphic, and spectroscopic observations from field studies, lab experiments, and remote sensing data with numerical modeling.
  • Key words: Sedimentology, Geomorphology, Mars, Polar environments, Neoproterozoic Earth, Habitability, TIR Spectroscopy
  • Contact: email; @francy_pants
  • From Aguas Buenas, PR; Currently living in Hanover, NH; fluent in Spanish and English

Dr. Alejandro Soto

  • Research Scientist, Southwest Research Institute
  • Ph.D. in Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology
  • M.S. in Aeronautics & Astronautics, Standford University
  • B.S. in Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College
  • Research interests: Studies the climate dynamics of terrestrial atmospheres through the use of atmospheric models; involved in instrument development to observe atmospheres and surfaces both in situ and remotely.
  • Key words: Atmospheric Dynamics, Planetary Climate Systems, Atmosphere-Surface Interaction, In Situ and Remote Sensing Instrument Development, Mars, Titan
  • Contact: email; @soto97
  • From Atlanta, GA; family from Caguas, PR and Juana Díaz, PR; currently in Boulder, CO; fluent in Spanish and English

Adrian Ildefonso

    • Graduate Research Assistant, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • B.S. in Computer Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
    • Research interests: techniques for developing robust electronics for space, modeling and testing of radiation effects on semiconductor devices and circuits, design of satellite communications systems, utilizing lasers to mimic the effects of energetic particles on electronics in space
    • Keywords: radiation effects, radiation-hardened electronic design, semiconductor physics and modeling, radiation effects testing
    • Contact: email, @AdrianIldefonso

Andy López Oquendo

  • B.S. student in Physics, University of Puerto Rico, Humacao (expected 2019)
  • Research Interests: Cobble distribution on surfaces of near-Earth asteroids, planetary radar techniques, rotational rates of NEAs and small body dynamics in the inner Solar System.
  • Key Words: Near-Earth Asteroids, Planetary Radar, Optical Observations, Numerical Modeling
  • Contact: email; @Planeteroid
  • From Humacao, PR; fluent in Spanish and English

Alexandra Perez

  • M.Sc. student in Geological Sciences, Arizona State University (expected 2018)
  • B.S. in Geology, Texas Tech University
  • Research Interests: Investigates the validity of the planetary embryo bow shock model as a chondrule formation mechanism through dynamic crystallization experiments
  • Key Words: Meteorites, Chondrules, Planet Formation, Early Solar System, Experimental Petrology
  • Contact: @chondrule_maker
  • From Jacksonville, FL; Parents from Bayamón, PR; currently living in Phoenix, AZ

Bryan Rodriguez Colon

  • M.Sc. student in Geosciences, University of Kansas
  • B.S. in Geology, Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
  • Research Interests: Investigates the role of microorganisms in the nucleation and mineralization of dolomite under low-temperature conditions.
  • Key Words: Aqueous Geochemistry, Geomicrobiology, Geobiology, Astrobiology, Life in Extreme Environments.
  • Contact: email; @BryanRodriColon
  • From Manati, PR; currently living in Lawrence, KS; fluent in Spanish and English

Carolina Rodriguez Sanchez-Vahamonde

  • M.Sc. student in Geology and Planetary Science, University of Western Ontario
  • B.S. in Geology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
  • Research Interests: Investigates martian lava flow analogs and impact craters on the Moon and Saturn’s icy satellites
  • Key Words: Planetary Radar Geology, Planetary surface processes, Remote Sensing, Mars geomorphology
  • Contact: email; @carolinadlmrsv
  • From Jayuya, PR; currently living in London, ON, Canada; fluent in Spanish and English

Carlos A. Estévez Galarza

  • M.Sc. student in Physics, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras
  • Co-founder, PRatian
  • B.S. in Theoretical Physics, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
  • Research interests: Investigates the daily and seasonal role of absorption in Mars’ water cycle; develops a biodegradable water-absorbing technology, optimizing the efficiency of plant growth systems and preventing the waste of potable water.
  • Keywords: Theoretical Physics, Thermodynamics, Numerical Modeling, Atmosphere-Surface Interaction, Mars, Development of Space Technologies
  • Contact: email; @Quantum_Trooper
  • From Mayagüez, PR; currently living in San Juan, PR; fluent in Spanish and English

Kevin N. Ortiz Ceballos

  • B. S. student in Physics with a concentration in Philosophy, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras (expected 2021)
  • Research interests: Radio and magnetic characterization of stellar environments and systems to determine their suitability for life, near-field cosmology and galaxy evolution, theory of high-energy physics and cosmology
  • Key words: Astrobiology, Habitability, Radio Astronomy, Cosmology, Theory of Physics
  • Contact: email; @kortizceballos
  • From Toa Baja, PR; Fluent in English and Spanish

Yashira M. del Valle-Rodriguez

  • B.S. student in Physics, University of Puerto Rico, Humacao (expected 2019)
  • Research interest: Rotation Rates of NEA’s
  • Key words: Planetary Science, Near earth Asteroids, Optical observations, Numerical Modeling
  • Contact: email; @Astroidlien
  • From Caguas, PR; currently living in Las Piedras PR; fluent in Spanish and English