January 22, 2007
Biologist Martha Zúñiga contributes to book on Latina scientists
By Tim Stephens
Martha Zúñiga, professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology,
has contributed her personal story to a new book of essays by Latina scientists.
Flor y ciencia: Chicanas in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, published in 2006
by the Adalante Project, is intended to encourage and inspire young Latina students
interested in careers in science.
"We would like to be able to distribute free copies of the book to high school
students," Zúñiga said. "A common question we hear from students is,
'How did you get to where you are now?'"
The idea for the book emerged from a workshop funded by the National
Science Foundation (NSF) at a 2003 meeting of Mujeres Activas en Letras
y Cambio Social (MALCS, Women Active in Letters and Social Change). The
group obtained additional funding for the project from NSF and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Zúñiga
was invited to contribute an essay. Aída Hurtado, professor of psychology at
UCSC and a member of MALCS, wrote the introduction to the book.
Zúñiga said she doesn't think she had to overcome as many
obstacles as some of the other contributors to the book--her parents were teachers
and she was not the first in her family to go to college. Nevertheless, her path
was not easy, and the story of how she persevered to forge a successful career
in science is full of valuable insights.
As Hurtado noted in the introduction, "The contributors to this volume
have led extraordinary lives... [yet] they see their lives as ordinary, fulfilling,
and achievable by anybody that puts their mind and heart to it. The message that
rings loud and clear is 'You too can do it because I did and I'm no different from you.'"