Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Judit Jiménez Sainz
Judit is a biochemist and geneticist who researches why certain women with BRCA2 mutations have an increased risk of female cancers and how to prevent and cure it at the molecular level. Judit joined ECUSA in 2015 and since then, she has actively participated in the Advisory program and co-directed the E-visibility program, highlighting novel research and researchers’ endeavors. Judit was elected President of ECUSA in May 2021. Her engagement focuses on bringing ECUSA community together and on moving ECUSA to a global recognized non-profit association with the united growth of all the members. She joined the Faculty Advisory Council at Yale in November 2020 to represent the research associate scientists at Yale Medical School and advocate for the benefits and professional development of this group of scientists. Judit wants to promote equity, diversity and leadership skills. She is an advocate of Women in Science. Judit strongly believes that the members of ECUSA and the new generation of STEMM can be a engine to move our planet to a better one. Judit is one of 75 women leaders selected for Homeward Bound Program 5(#HB5). Judit gets energy from family, dance, nature, meditation and, spending time with others. She strongly values curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and exploring outside her comfort zone.
Alma Eva Pérez Perrino
Vicepresident / Secretary
PhD in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine. PhD in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine. She develops and apply new High Speed Atomic Force Microscopy (HS-AFM) methods for the study of the dynamics and structure of membrane proteins.
David is a Chemical Engineering PhD student at Northeastern University, working on the use of nanomaterials synthesized by alternative routes for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases and chemotherapy-resistant cancer. David is the founder of The Green Chemistry Lab, an independent research division focused on Green Nanotechnology and nanomedicine, and founder of two biomedical startups. Since 2019, David has been ECUSA’s national treasurer and an active member of the Boston chapter.
Carlos A. Merino
Boston chapter President
Civil Engineer from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Masters in Civil / Structural Engineering from Saint Louis University. Professional Engineer with +5 years of experience specializing in transportation infrastructure projects. He works as a Structural / Bridge Engineer at CDR Maguire Inc. in Boston, MA.
Midwest Chapter President
Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid. Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Politecnica of Madrid. Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. I am currently an Associate Engineer at the Gas Technology Institute, doing my part to secure the future of energy.
Ylenia Cendón Flórez
New York Chapter President
Ylenia obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid, working on inherited mutations in Prostate Cancer at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center. Nowadays she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her work is focused on understanding how chromosomal rearrangements drive tumorigenesis and contribute to drug resistance. Apart from science, she is also passionate about meeting people and new places, music, and art. Apart from science, she is also passionate about meeting people and new places, music, and art.
Texas Chapter President
Sonia Villapol graduated in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2003, and obtained her PhD in Neurosciences at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona in 2007. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Pierre and Marie Curie VI University and INSERM in Paris, France, until 2010 when she moved to the USA to work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Uniformed Services University in Maryland. In 2014, he joined the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University (Washington, DC) as Research Assistant Professor. Since 2018 she is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the Neuroregeneration Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas and an Affiliate Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She published more than 40 research articles. Her lab receives NIH funding and her research focuses on finding treatments for brain damage by targeting inflammatory mediators that connect the brain to the periphery.
Alberto D. López Muñoz
Washington DC Chapter President
Alberto D. is a molecular virologist, passionate about understanding how viruses are able to mimic and modulate the human immune system. He received his PhD and MSc from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) where he studied immunomodulation and evolutionary mechanisms of human herpes simplex viruses. During his predoctoral training, he performed two research internships, at Imperial College London (UK) and at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, USA).
He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Viral Diseases within the NIAID (National Institutes of Health, NIH), studying human coronaviruses and influenza virus. His desire to improve the visibility of spanish scientists and interconnect the spanish and american scientific communities have motivated him to lead the Washington DC chapter and to participate in the E-Visibility program.
Leire Abalde Atristain
Leire is a neuroscientist from Donostia-San Sebastian who completed her undergraduate studies in Biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master’s in Biomedical Research at the Pompeu Fabra University, also in Barcelona. Sponsored by a predoctoral fellowship from the La Caixa Foundation, Leire moved to the US in 2013 to obtain her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, where she was recognized with a Young Investigator Award for her thesis work. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Marc Freeman at Oregon Health & Science University, where she studies the role of glial cells in the degeneration of neurons in the central nervous system. Leire joined the ECUSA’s e-Visibility program in 2020 because of her passion for science communication, her conviction that without Science there is no future, and her STEMinist ideals. Since 2021 she also leads MECUSA in its mission to empower women scientists, improve their visibility, and advocate for gender equity in science.
She studied biology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and did her internship at the assisted reproduction unit of the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron. After graduating she moved to Madrid where she took a Master’s degree in molecular biomedicine at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and then began her doctoral studies at the Vascular Pathology Laboratory of the Instituto de Investigaciones Sanitarias of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz with a thesis on the inflammation of atherosclerotic plaque. In February 2016 she moved to Boston to start as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. W. Taylor Kimberly’s neurology lab at Massachusetts General Hospital to investigate mechanisms of inflammation in stroke.
He has double B.Sc. in Biology and Biochemistry (University of Navarra), and he performed his doctoral thesis at the National Center for Oncological Research on chemoresistance mechanisms and animal models for brain tumors. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University where he participates and focuses on identifying personalized therapies for patients with pancreatic cancer in collaboration with the Presbyterian Hospital of NY. Alvaro is the current Director of Career Development and Advisory commission as well as an active member of the New York chapter and the MECUSA commission.
Fernando J. de Miguel
Chair of Communications
Fernando is a lung cancer biologist. He studied a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Navarra (UNAV) prior to an MSc. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). He returned to Pamplona to obtain his Ph.D. at the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) from the University of Navarra. Fernando is currently working as an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, CT, where he studies epigenetic mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapies and targeted therapies in lung cancer. He enjoys and advocates for science communication and outreach and collaborates in different efforts in ECUSA towards this aim.
Francisco Martín Martínez
Francisco Martin-Martinez is an assistant professor and research group leader in the Department of Chemistry at Swansea University. He is also a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-instructor at Station1, a start-up in socially-driven innovation. Before, he was Research Scientist at MIT (2014-2020), and postdoctoral associate (2011-2013) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He sits at the advisory board of Sweetwater Energy, an integrated biorefinery, and 2050Materials, a start-up on sustainable construction materials. He is also co-founder of HyveGeo, a start-up on biobased materials for precision agriculture. In 2022, he was selected as Google Research Innovator and he is working on developing computational chemistry tools using Google Cloud supercomputing.
Teresa Nieves Chinchilla
Dr. Dr. Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla is a research astrophysics in the Heliophysics Science Division of the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), NASA Project Scientist for the Solar Orbiter Collaboration (ESA/NASA) mission and Adjunct Profesor at the Catholic University of America. She has over 17 years of professional experience in the study electromagnetic fields, space plasmas and energetic particles as they relate to the understanding of the properties of large-scale structures of the solar wind. Dr. Dr. Nieves Chinchilla has authored and coauthored 80+ publications in peer-reviewed professional journals and she has served as referee and guest editor in such journals as well. Dr. Nieves-Chinchilla obtained her Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, Spain, in 2004.
Marine biologist connecting the environment, gender equality and environmental diplomacy for a more fair and sustainable future for all. She is the scientific coordinator of CREAF, a Spanish ecology research center focused on global change and biodiversity. Dr. in Biodiversity from the University of Barcelona, she conducted her doctoral research as a visiting researcher for five years at Harvard University and complemented her scientific experience with a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. She is former president of ECUSA and of the Network of Spanish Researchers Abroad (RAICEX). She received the Spanish Red Cross Gold Medal for her advocacy efforts for gender equality with a key component of climate action and co-founded the Spanish non-profit organization ‘Ellas Lideran’ to continue her advocacy work.
Ignacio Ugarte Urra
Ignacio Ugarte Urra is an astrophysicist in the Department of Space Sciences at a federal laboratory in Washington, DC. His specialty is solar physics and the study of the processes responsible for heating the outer atmosphere of the Sun, known as the corona, and the eruptions that give rise to space weather. His responsibilities include the scientific exploitation of data from a solar spectrograph currently in orbit and a suborbital rocket in the development phase. He currently serves as the Project Scientist and Deputy PI of a NASA spectrograph under development for an international mission led by JAXA, the Japanese space agency. In 2014, he co-founded the Spanish Scientists Association in the United States (ECUSA) with a group of Spanish scientists in the Washington DC area and served as its first president. Ignacio Ugarte holds a degree in Astrophysics from the University of La Laguna in Tenerife and a Ph.D. in Solar Physics from Queen’s University in Belfast, United Kingdom.
Cristina Vázquez Mateo
Cristina holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Autonoma University of Madrid. Her specialty is autoimmune diseases such as lupus. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University, she began her career in the pharmaceutical industry at EMD Serono, where she currently works as the Director of Clinical Research in the Boston area. She has been involved with ECUSA since its early days, serving as the president of the Boston chapter and later at the national level. Among her passions are helping other women advance in their careers, cooking Spanish food for her family, practicing yoga, and connecting with nature.