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UC Chemistry Doctoral Student Named Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow

Mirelis Santos Cancel, a doctoral student in UC's Department of Chemistry, has been named a 2018 fellow with the Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development.

Date: 3/26/2018 8:00:00 AM
By: Stuart Lindle
Phone: (513) 509-1114
Photos By: University of Cincinnati

UC ingot  
Cincinnati, Ohio—Mirelis Santos Cancel, doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2018 fellow with the Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development.  

Photograph of Santos Cancel.
Chemistry doctoral candidate Mirelis Santos Cancel

Santos Cancel is one of 40 researchers from across the United States to be given the opportunity to receive professional mentorship; to network with a diverse and accomplished set of scientists, leaders, and peers; and to develop skills for scientific outreach over the year-long fellowship.

The Yale Ciencia Academy—sponsored by the non-profit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico in collaboration with Yale University—aims to increase the number of Puerto Rican and Hispanic scientists serving communities.

Born, raised and educated in Puerto Rico, Santos Cancel, a fourth-year doctoral candidate, is excited to experience this opportunity with other fellows who share her background—something she says she knew existed, but felt disconnected from.

Ryan White, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has worked closely with Santos Cancel over the past four years. He previously taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) until his nomination as Ohio Eminent Scholar brought him to UC in the fall of 2017. Santos Cancel, who was working with White at the University of Maryland, was also hired by UC as part of White’s study team.

In addition to helping Santos Cancel develop skills and hone her research, the fellowship is an important step to make new connections with peers and mentors.

“Building a network of people in the science field will help her build a larger sense of community outside of the department, and out in the world,” said White.

“I think not just in the science field, but in other academic fields as well, we need to have people from different backgrounds who bring something new to the table,” said Santos Cancel.

Photograph of Santos Cancel in the lab.
Santos Cancel in the lab.

White agrees, “we should strive to have a scientific community that represents the diversity of the people they’re serving,” he said.

Her current research focuses on the development of cutting-edge electrochemical probes for the detection and quantification of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an essential compound that provides energy for physiological processes.

It’s a continuation of the work she did during her undergraduate and graduate years at the University of Puerto Rico, where she studied electrochemistry. The goal of her research is to use the probes to gain a better understanding of ATP’s role in brain processes. Seeing how the compound interacts in the brain could lead to a better understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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