Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Meet Central American-Caribbean Astronomy Bridge Program Fellows - Part 1

The Central American - Caribbean bridge in astrophysics is a program created to mentor and train the next generation of students in astrophysics from that region. This was created because there is an enormous lack of resources and research opportunities for students interested in astrophysics. We hold monthly webinars and invite a speaker every month to talk about their personal life, academic obstacles, and research. The goal is for the students to feel represented, motivated, and capable, especially women in our group. More recently, we began a remote REU-like internship where students are able to complete a mini-project within a four-month period. Last Fall 2019, we had four students from Costa Rica and Honduras who worked with professors from Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. This Spring 2020, we are working with three students from Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. This opportunity brings research opportunities to these students and connects them to potential advisors and PhD programs.

In this series, we will highlight selected fellows. If you'd like to learn more about the program and ways you can get involved please visit

My name is Natalia Ramirez Vega. I am from a small town in Costa Rica called Tres Rios. Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to study the universe. Thus, all my professional decisions have been made based on that goal. I am a Computer Systems Engineering student at University Fidelitas in Costa Rica. I really enjoy creating new things that will somehow help other people. I also love art; I feel there is a strong connection between science and art. I like drawing in my free time especially if I can do it in a place near a waterfall or a nice view. A fun fact is that I want to get a pilot license in the upcoming years just because I want to say I know how to fly an airplane.

Social media:
Instagram: ramirez__vega
Twitter: ramirez__vega

What kind of job do you do?

I am working as a Junior Data Analyst in a consulting company while finishing my senior year in college. I feel passionate about data science and I would like to apply that knowledge in the astronomy field. I spend most of my time trying to open new opportunities for Costa Rican students who are interested in STEAM specifically in a space-related field. In June 2019, I founded the Costa Rican chapter of SWISE (Society of Women In Space Exploration).

I have focused the chapter in Science Communication. Every month we have meetings with special guests who are Central American scientists who do research in astronomy or any related field. Also, I have organized different campaigns to include girls and women in STEAM. In Costa Rica astronomy is not a developed field to work in, so the goal is to let young people know they can make the change they want to see. Even though the opportunities in astronomy within the country are few, it is not impossible to follow your dreams. My goal with the chapter is to empower people to open new paths for themselves and for the new generations.

My future goals:

Once I finish my undergrad, I want to work in order to get experience as a Data Analyst while I prepare myself to apply for a PhD in Data Science with a focus on Astronomy. My biggest goal is to get a job working with data from telescopes in order to make it readable.

My aspirations:

I would like to see how my work influences younger generations of Costa Rican students to follow their dreams. I want to become a successful professional so I can open new opportunities in an easier way. I know someday we’ll see a meaningful number of students and professionals doing research in astronomy and astrophysics based in Costa Rica without having to choose between their career and staying close their families, friends, and home.

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