Hispanic Heritage Month: NIST Scientist and NOAA Public Affairs Officer Lead Efforts in Quantum Computing, Communicating Life-Saving Messaging

Curated by Marty Valencia-Estay

Maria Torres-Falcon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Manuel Castellanos Beltran of the National Institute of Standards and Technology worked together to create a system to send life-saving weather information to diverse audiences.

“Castellanos always liked science, but he found his love for physics when his high school teacher encouraged him to enter the once every four years Physics Olympiad. He did so well in the competition that he received a scholarship to study physics as an undergraduate in Monterrey, Mexico.

His professors were adamant that he should study in the United States if he wanted to pursue physics as a career. Fortunately, the school had a good exchange program with the University of Colorado Boulder, and Castellanos came to Boulder for a semester. He later returned for his graduate degree, working with the Lehnert group at JILA, a joint research institute of NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder.

After two years of doing postdoctoral work at Yale, he missed the mountains and the life outdoors of Colorado. He joined the advanced microwave photonics group at NIST in Boulder. Today he works with NIST’s superconducting electronics group, pursuing the goal of developing quantum computing technologies.”

“Torres-Falcón’s early passion for weather and science led her to Florida State University (FSU), where she received a B.S. in Meteorology in 2009. During her time at FSU, she also worked with NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) in the Miami Florida forecast office as a student trainee.

She then worked for the NWS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. In Brownsville, Torres-Falcón significantly expanded outreach and decision support programs, providing service to the Hispanic community, as well as enhanced tropical weather information in Spanish. Her efforts to improve Spanish-language weather safety information for vulnerable communities in South Texas were recognized with the NOAA Employee of the Month Award, a U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award for the Brownsville NWS team, and the 2016 National Weather Association Public Education Award.”

The U.S. The Department of Commerce shed some amazing light on these two individuals who should be celebrated for their efforts on this Hispanic Heritage Month.

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