Associated Universities, Inc. and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory celebrate success of Chilean students in pursuit of STEM careers

Credit: S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Atacama Desert, Chile – February 2024 – The U.S. National Science Foundation National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NSF NRAO) and Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) are proud to celebrate the remarkable achievements of two local students, Iris and Camila, as they embark on their journeys into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers.

Iris and Camila, both 19 years old and natives of San Pedro de Atacama, have been integral parts of the AUI and NSF NRAO initiative PROVOCA (PROmote + VOCAtions), which which seeks to promote, guide, accompany and retain female talent in STEM. Their involvement in PROVOCA, spanning from its inception to their recent participation in the mentorship program in 2023, has been transformative, leading them on paths they never imagined.

Initially aspiring to pursue careers in medicine, Iris and Camila discovered new horizons through their engagement with PROVOCA. The mentorship program provided them with exposure to various STEM disciplines, igniting a passion for fields they had never considered before. Iris has chosen to pursue biology, while Camila is venturing into engineering, with a focus on aerospace engineering.

The transition from their hometown of San Pedro to prestigious universities in Santiago and Concepción marks a significant milestone, not only for Iris and Camila but also for their families. As the first members of their families to attend college, they are blazing trails and inspiring future generations in their community.

PROVOCA’s mentorship program played a pivotal role in Iris and Camila’s journey, guiding them through self-discovery and empowering them to redefine their career aspirations. By providing a supportive environment for exploration and growth, PROVOCA enabled them to articulate their motivations and confidently pursue their true passions in STEM.

AUI and NSF NRAO recognize Iris and Camila’s achievements as emblematic of PROVOCA’s mission to nurture STEM talent at the grassroots level. Their stories exemplify the transformative power of mentorship and the importance of early exposure to diverse STEM opportunities.

“We firmly believe that when students embark on a journey of exploration and self-discovery from an early age, their STEM identity is strengthened, setting a solid foundation for their future endeavors,” said Sonia Duffau, Outreach and Diversity Officer for AUI and NSF NRAO in Chile. “Iris and Camila’s success stories inspire us all and reaffirm our commitment to fostering STEM excellence in our community.”

As Iris and Camila embark on their academic pursuits, ALMA Observatory joins NSF NRAO and AUI in this celebration, as it contributes 9 out of the 51 mentors of the PROVOCA program, and extends its best wishes for their continued success and looks forward to witnessing their future accomplishments in the dynamic world of STEM.


About AUI

Associated Universities, Inc. (AUl) is a non-profit organization that collaborates with the scientific community to plan, build and operate cutting-edge facilities, including Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCS).


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of Taiwan  and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

ALMA operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact: 

NRAO Media Contact

Corrina C. Jaramillo Feldman
Public Information Officer – New Mexico
Tel: +1 505-366-7267

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