Costa Rican Scientists Who Stand Out for Their Contribution to Medicine, Chemistry, and Astronomy

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    Karl Schosinsk, a microbiologist specializing in Clinical Chemistry; José María Gutiérrez, a specialist in Physiological Sciences; Mavis Montero, a researcher in Materials Chemistry; and Sandra Cauffman, deputy director of NASA‘s Astrophysics Division, are Costa Rican scientists who stand out nationally and internationally for their contribution to medicine, engineering, and astronomy.

    For more than 30 years, Schosinsky and Gutiérrez have dedicated themselves to changing the health of Costa Rica with inventions and contributions that still today continue to contribute to the well-being of the population. A conversation was held with Schosinsky to learn about his contributions based on scientific studies of 75 contributions, of which he highlights the following as the most relevant.

    The first is a technique that he developed in the United States, based on identifying ceruloplasmin (a protein in the liver that stores and transports copper) to study Wilson’s disease. “Before the technique, Costa Rica only reported about 5 cases of Wilson’s disease per 1 million inhabitants, and the diagnosis was made by electrophoresis; with ceruloplasmin, it was found that in Costa Rica there were not 5, but 61 cases”, said Schosinsky.

    After this work, they were reported between 30 to 40 cases of the disease in the world. Costa Rica was the country with the highest number of cases, not because it had more, but because it was where it had been best studied, Schosinsky added. Likewise, he promoted the diagnosis in the saliva of helicobacter pylori (the main bacteria that causes gastric cancer). Another substantial contribution was linked to an analysis capable of evaluating the degree of pulmonary preparation of the fetus before birth, to know if the baby’s lungs are expanding or collapsing.

    On the other hand, José María Gutiérrez, a specialist in Physiological Sciences, has collaborated in research in areas such as Biochemistry, Immunology, and Experimental Pathology of snake venoms. Additionally, it helped establish a regional set of laboratories in Latin America, allowing Costa Rica to further position itself in communities with new research projects. “The academic trajectory of Dr. José María Gutiérrez is impressive; 500 posts is not something you do overnight. In addition, presentations in congresses that range from research work to global access books and brochures to all people who need to know something about offering poisoning, antivenoms and, of course, about physiology and what happens after a bite”, commented Norman Rojas, Dean of the Faculty of Microbiology at the University of Costa Rica.

    But not only men have stood out nationally and internationally, but there are also women who, with his talent, have inspired many women to follow his legacy. Proof of this is Mavis Montero, a researcher in Materials Chemistry, who has carried out research for the synthesis of hydroxyapatite (the main inorganic component of bones) and to produce nanoparticles that can be used in bone implants.

    Likewise, she has motivated and encouraged students and professionals to develop new lines of research, being the first woman to obtain the award for young scientists TWAS-Conicit, in 2006, awarded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research in conjunction with the Academy of Third World Sciences. “It is time to be brave, to trust our knowledge in science and technology to resolve and make the best decisions as individuals and as a society”, said Montero.

    On the other hand, Costa Rica also has female talent at NASA, specifically in the Astrophysics Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, of which Sandra Cauffman is the deputy director. After 30 years of working at the agency, the engineer assures that her motivation remains intact and that she does not even think about her retirement.

    Outstanding Costa Ricans in Science and Technology

    Karl Schosinsky Neverman

    Profession: Microbiologist specializing in Clinical Chemistry

    Position: He was a professor at the University of Costa Rica (UCR)

    Age: 80 years old

    Experience: Researcher, teacher, and collaborator of the National Children’s Hospital. << he made 75 contributions to the country based on scientific studies >>

    José María Gutiérrez Gutiérrez

    Profession: Microbiologist specialized in Physiological Sciences

    Position: Professor at UCR

    Age: 67 years

    Experience: For 45 years, he was a member of the Academic Division of the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the University of Costa Rica and a professor at the Faculty of Microbiology

    Mavis Montero Villalobo

    Profession: Chemical Engineer

    Position: Professor at the UCR and researcher at the Materials Science and Engineering Research Center

    Experience: More than 22 years doing science, a period in which she has participated in more than 73 research projects at an international level.

    Sandra Cauffmann

    Profession: Physical Engineer

    Position: Deputy Director of the Astrophysics Division of the National Aeronautics Administration

    Experience: Deputy Director of the Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mission Project and Deputy Director of the NASA Geostationary Satellite System Program

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