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USU's Maria Rodriguez talks about her experience as a Latina physicist

Night stars reflected on a lake
R Barth
/
USGS

Rodriquez says it is a special time right now for academics, not just for women, but minorities in general where there are programs at universities that help support them.

Maria Rodriguez is assistant professor in the Physics Department at Utah State University. She studies gravitational physics and black holes. She grew up in Argentina, and says that’s where she first met people that loved math as much as she did. Rodriguez says that right now, only 10% of women are in the field of physics, but being a woman and Latina is not something she lets get in her way, and even has some advantages to it.

“There were moments in which, you know, it was an issue, I have two kids, for example, and there were things that one has to stop just biologically have to stop. I speak Spanish. And so, there's so much information in English all the time. And any, any videos that I do or create, usually about science or explaining and that are in Spanish are very well received, because there's a huge community that only speak Spanish,” said Rodriquez.

Rodriquez says it is a special time right now for academics, not just for women, but minorities in general where there are programs at universities that help support them, and schools are putting in more effort to try and accommodate people from all sorts of backgrounds. So, according to Rodriquez it’s a good time for women and minorities to access these resources and pursue careers in STEM fields.

One of the tools Rodriquez uses in her research is the James Webb telescope, which launched in December 2021. It’s helping physicists like Rodriquez understand galaxy formation and the evolution of the universe.

“It can sharpen images that are very close to us, for example, images in our own solar system with very much detail things that we cannot capture,” said Rodriquez.

With Utah Public Radio, I’m Katherine Flores