September 15, 2000
UC Santa Cruz biologist Martha Zuniga featured in exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation
For Immediate Release
SANTA CRUZ, CA--Martha Zúñiga, an associate professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is among ten Latino scientists whose achievements are featured in an exhibit at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The exhibit, running from September 16 through October 15, is part of the museum's celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The exhibit consists of a series of panels located throughout the Tech Museum's galleries that highlight the innovations and contributions of the ten scientists.
Zúñiga was invited to take part in a day of special activities at the museum on Saturday, September 16, during which she would talk with students and other visitors about the challenges and rewards of being a scientist.
"I'm very excited about it," she said. "It will be interesting to see the other exhibits and to talk to the students who come to the museum."
In addition to Zúñiga, the featured scientists include:
* Albert Baez, Physicist, President of Vivamos Mejor/USA
* George Castro, Associate Dean of College of Science, San Jose State University
* Mario Molina, Chemist and Atmospheric Scientist, MIT
* Adriana Ocampo, Planetary Geologist, NASA
* Ellen Ochoa, Astronaut, NASA
* Hector Ruiz, President and Chief Operating Officer, AMD
* Richard Tapia, Noah Harding Professor for Computational and Applied Mathematics, Rice University
* Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Northwestern University
* Maria Elena Zavala, Biologist, California State University, Northridge
According to Tech Museum officials, more than 1,700 students from the Alum Rock School District have scheduled visits to the museum to see the exhibit.
"National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for everyone to experience the many contributions Hispanics have made to the country," said Tech Museum President and CEO Peter Giles. "We hope that our monthlong cultural celebration will inspire future innovators from all backgrounds."
Zúñiga is well aware of the influence an accomplished scientist can have as an inspiration to young students. She recalled her excitement as a fifth grader in Laredo, Texas, when a scientist from the Johnson Space Center visited her school. "It made a huge impact on me," she said.
Zúñiga's research focuses on a key component of the immune system, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. She studies the role of MHC molecules in the development of the immune system and is investigating the mechanisms by which certain viruses evade detection by the immune system. Her work is supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Zúñiga received her B.A. in zoology from the University of Texas, Austin, and her Ph.D. in biology from Yale University. She joined the biology faculty at UCSC in 1990. In addition to her research, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in immunology, virology, and advanced cell biology.
Additional information about the exhibit is available on the web at www.thetech.org or by calling (408) 294-8324.