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Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge: Latin America and Caribbean Edition

cross Latin America and the Caribbean, scientific researchers, pioneers and entrepreneurs are dedicated to finding answers to questions that can improve their communities and others around the world. They apply their knowledge, passion, dedication and ingenuity to translate big ideas into meaningful solutions.

Through the Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge: Latin America and Caribbean Edition, Johnson & Johnson invited innovators working in the region to share their stories to help engage the public, encourage advocacy for scientific innovation and inspire youth in the region to pursue STEM careers that will help change the trajectory of health for humanity.

After receiving nearly 100 submissions between January and March 2019, an independent committee of scientists, policymakers and science journalists reviewed the applications and determined the winners.

Below, learn more about the winners of the Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge: Latin America and Caribbean Edition. These five researchers hope to bring forth positive change in our world and serve as role models for the next generation of thought leaders pursuing scientific fields.

Spotlight on the Winners

The noteworthy contributions of our five contest winners reflect the unlimited opportunities that science brings—to Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond.
Del Hierro’s home country of Ecuador produces 4,139,512 tons of waste each year. Leading a team of researchers, she’s developed a plan to capitalize on the power of nature to close the nutrient cycle and turn the problem of excess waste into an opportunity—one insect at a time.
As a biologist and then a biochemist/neuroscientist, de Lima has spent years exploring the potential of biodiversity, focusing on animal venoms, selecting and studying biomolecules as models of new drugs. Through her extensive research, the professor has identified how a toxin from the Brazilian wandering spider has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
In an effort to help curb the influx of plastics overflowing in landfills and polluting our oceans, Guimarães Martins hopes to develop and commercialize new biodegradable materials. Using food waste such as chicken feathers, beans and starches, the Brazilian professor has developed a food packaging product that’s entirely biodegradable. What’s more, this innovative packaging may even extend the shelf life of foods.
Diabetes is a rapidly expanding health problem in Brazil and throughout the world. Without regular monitoring, the chronic disease often comes with high cost and high mortality. To help reverse this trend, Teixeira Sousa used artificial intelligence to develop an app that can help identify diabetic patients most at-risk for developing serious complications.
Committed to advancing scientific developments in his home country, Obregón Valencia was inspired by a plant he first encountered in the Peruvian jungle. Thanks to the work he and other researchers are pursuing, the moriche palm fruit may one day play a vital role in producing activated carbon, which can, in turn, be used in water purification processes throughout Peru.
Committed to championing scientific innovations and advancements, these individuals are effecting change in their communities—and the judges of the Latin America and Caribbean Storytelling Challenge lauded their impressive efforts.
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Shining a light on the talented scientists and innovators in Latin America and the Caribbean builds public support and encourages advocacy for scientific innovation. It also can inspire young people in the region to pursue careers that will help change the trajectory of health for humanity.

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We launched Champions of Science®, a multifaceted initiative, to convene and catalyze champions of science and engage people of all generations and backgrounds to see the unlimited opportunities that science brings.
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