"Identidad y STEM" (Identity & STEM)
By Dr. Semarhy Quiñones Soto
The original artwork submitted for the 2022 NDiSTEM Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico is a representation of elements that remind me of home. The figure in the center of the drawing represents a Puerto Rican woman with Taíno ancestry and she wears a “Vejigante” mask, a folkloric character of Spanish and African origins which is seen as part of Puerto Rican festivals. This collection of Taíno, Spanish and African elements represent the mixed ancestry of Puerto Ricans. The background of the drawing is an outline of “El Yunque” rainforest and the ocean waves, representing our land and sea. Above her head, an array of constellations shines in the night/day sky. The constellations represent different STEM fields – an isosceles triangle (math), the Puerto Rican “coquí” frog (natural sciences), an atom (physical sciences), and the antenna from the Arecibo Observatory (space sciences, as well as the Puerto Rican contribution to world sciences). She is holding a globe to represent all countries and cultures gathering at SACNAS with Puerto Rico, enlarged and highlighted in green, as the location of the conference. She is also holding four types of flowers – a red and white flower from the “flamboyán” tree, a yellow “canario”, the smaller red flower “cruz de malta”, and the white “margarita” wildflower. While these flowers may not be endemic to Puerto Rico, they always remind me of home. The “fambloyán” trees and the “cruz de malta” flowers remind me of the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, where I spent most my afternoons while my mother finished work, and the “canario” and “margarita” flowers remind me of my “Abuela Elisa’s” house.