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10-09-2008 01:36 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: MOSI Tampa, FL - Museum of Science & Industry

Telemundo Network’s National Director of Public Affairs and anchor of Cada Día, José Díaz-Balart, will be hosting MOSI’s National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award Gala at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, 2008.

Born in 1960, the Cuban-American journalist has been named one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States by Hispanic magazine. He is also the anchor and managing editor of Enfoque, Telemundo’s public affairs program. With his unique journalistic style, Díaz-Balart was the first journalist in the United States to anchor both a daily Spanish and English language newscast. He has been recognized numerous times as one of the best Hispanic journalists in the nation by Hispanic Media 100.

This year MOSI’s 2008 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year honoree is Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, an internationally recognized molecular biologist and founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Mexican American, Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff is deeply committed to the recruitment and retention of minorities in science. As founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, Villa-Komaroff has served as both a board member and vice president of the organization. She makes frequent presentations to students of all ages and provides lab research opportunities for high school and undergraduate students. She currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Cytonome, Inc., a company building the first optical cell sorter of human cells for therapeutic use. Villa-Komaroff was a key member of the research team that first demonstrated that bacterial cells could produce insulin, pioneering work that is widely cited in the book “Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Clone the Insulin Gene” by Stephen Hall.
During her 20 year research career, Villa-Komaroff has held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Harvard Medical School. As a science administrator, she has served as Vice President for Research at Northwestern University in Illinois and the Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“With all of the hardships facing today’s youth, we are honored to celebrate the accomplishments of such a gifted Hispanic professional in science and education who is working to inspire successful career and life choices,” concluded Wit Ostrenko, MOSI President.

For eight years, MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) has recognized nationally distinguished 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, a Nobel Laureate of Chemistry, a NASA astronaut, a marine biologist, a Harvard professor of pathology and former chief of immunogenetics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a seismologist and former director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE), Washington, D.C., and most recently, an industrial engineer and the first Hispanic to serve as acting head of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

This year MOSI will present the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award to Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff during a gala award ceremony on Saturday, October 11, 2008.

The mission of the MOSI National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award is to recognize outstanding Hispanic scientists who promote a greater public understanding of science and motivate Hispanic youths’ interest in science. Proceeds from the event help to fund scholarships for at-risk youth who participate in MOSI’s Youth Enriched by Science program.

The Youth Enriched by Science, “YES!” Team, is a career and educational enrichment program designed to help at-risk youth, between the ages 13 to 17, develop and progress in a supportive peer-group environment. Established in 1992, the focus of the program is to provide an opportunity for students to develop self-confidence, improve communication skills, build self-esteem and exhibit leadership skills. In addition, students are encouraged and motivated to pursue science both as a career and as an essential element of their total education. Mentors train students on science education, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and incorporating their ideas into museum programs. Since 1996 about 90% of “YES!” Team participants have gone on to attend college.

In the year 2000 the Hispanic dropout rate rested at 27.8%, compared to 7% for White, non-Hispanic students and 13% for Black, non-Hispanic students. These statistics are significant when considering the rapid population growth experienced by the Hispanic minority group. Studies show that in the year 2000 Hispanics comprised 12% of the total U.S. population, and it is estimated that this number will increase to 25% by the year 2050.


About MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
MOSI is a not-for-profit, community-based institution and educational resource dedicated to advancing public interest, knowledge, and understanding of science, industry, and technology. With a total size of over 300,000 square feet, MOSI is the largest science center in the southeastern United States, and home to the only IMAX® Dome Theatre in the state of Florida. Kids In Charge! The Children’s Science Center at MOSI is the largest children’s science center in the nation. MOSI’s newest permanent exhibition, Disasterville, featuring Bay News 9 WeatherQuest, combines education and 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits on the science behind natural disasters. For more information, visit

MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
4801 E. Fowler Avenue - Tampa, Florida 33617
Shani Jefferson
(p) 813-987-6080 (c) 813-842-7788

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