12 March 2015

Searching for the next generation of STEM leaders in the Americas

by Marga Gual Soler

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As science and technology become increasingly global, a new international leadership program in Washington DC seeks to broaden the training of young scientists and engineers to understand and address emerging environmental and societal challenges.

by Marga Gual Soler

Solutions to challenges that know no borders – such as ensuring energy, health, water or food security for 9 billion people in a sustainable planet –  lie at the intersection of science, international relations and foreign policy.Motivated by the increasing demand for well-rounded scientists and engineers capable of understanding the global social, political and economic contexts in which their work is embedded, the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University is launching a new Science Diplomacy & Leadership Program to equip early career researchers with the additional knowledge and skills traditionally not offered in graduate STEM programs, including cross-cultural communication, policy understanding, interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership development.

The program seeks applicants from Latin America and the Caribbean for its first edition in June 2015 in Washington DC. The course is designed as an immersion experience combining academic lectures by leading US and Latin American experts, field visits, professional development workshops, networking opportunities and leadership training. The academic module will present key transnational and regional challenges and opportunities related to science, technology, environment and health in the Americas. The personal and professional development module will equip participants with a broad set of skills and practical tools to work across borders, cultures and disciplines to understand and address emerging societal challenges and become agents of change in their countries and in the region.

Marga Gual Soler is interested in how science diplomacy can advance scientific cooperation to address challenges that transcend disciplinary, geographical and cultural divides. She is the Project Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Science Diplomacy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Assistant Research Professor at Arizona State University. Marga designs and implements innovative training initiatives for scientists and engineers to prompt them to become agents of change and broaden their societal contributions. Trained in four continents, Marga’s professional, research and travel experiences span more than 30 countries. In collaboration with UNESCO, she founded the Latin American Network of Young Scientists  and the Science Slam Festival, which combines science with performance and improvisation to help STEM students and professionals improve their communication skills. She also writes, speaks and tweets about science communication and the role of women in STEM disciplines, with articles appearing in the Huffington PostScientific American and Science magazine, and was recently named one of 25 Women in Science Worth Promoting. She has delivered dozens of lectures and workshops throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and frequently appears in Spanish language television and online interviews. Marga obtained her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at the University of Barcelona in Spain.