Skip to main content
URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / February 2020 / TBS Student Selected as Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow

TBS Student Selected as Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow

Denisse Vega-OcasioUR CTSI Translational Biomedical Sciences student Denisse Vega-Ocasio is among 40 young science leaders who have been selected for a year-long fellowship at the Yale Ciencia Academy (YCA) for Career Development. The group will kick off their fellowships this week at an in-person meeting coinciding with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting.

This highly-competitive program provides doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds in the life and health sciences with opportunities for mentoring, networking, skills development, and contributing to their communities through science outreach. The program is led by the non-profit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) – one of the largest networks of Hispanic/Latinx scientists in the world –  in collaboration with Yale University.

“The Yale Ciencia Academy complements traditional graduate training with access to a diverse network of peers, role models and advisors”, said Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, principal investigator and director of the YCA. “The goal is to help students gain clarity in their academic and professional goals and become the scientists they want to be. We are excited about the talent and promise among this new class of YCA fellows.”

Vega-Ocasio, who aims to use translational science to contribute to the control and eradication of infectious diseases in Latin American countries, can take advantage of professional development, networking, and science communication/outreach opportunities at the in-person meetings in February as well as online workshops and mentoring throughout the year. Through the program, she will also design and implement a science outreach project that will put her new skills into practice and allow her to connect with a community she cares about.

Started in 2016 and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the YCA has trained 154 young scientists from more than 70 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico. The program has helped students define career goals, improve professional development and mentoring practices, and increase confidence in their ability to successfully navigate graduate school and career transitions.  Through YCA, fellows have conducted more than 135 outreach projects over the past four years, reaching more than 25,000 people.

About Ciencia Puerto Rico

CienciaPR is a nonprofit organization that connects more than 12,000 Puerto Rican and Hispanic scientists, students, and educators worldwide through an innovative online platform. By leveraging its community’s collective knowledge, the organization has created thousands of resources to improve science education and help forge the next generation of Hispanic/Latinx STEM leaders.


Vega-Ocasio is part of the Translational Biomedical Sciences PhD Program, which is supported under the University of Rochester CTSA award number TL1 TR002000 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The PhD Program in Translational Biomedical Sciences provides in-depth mentoring and multi-disciplinary training to lay the foundation for a career dedicated to the translation of basic biomedical research into improved health.

Michael Hazard | 2/7/2020

You may also like