Research Associate Professor
Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida
Country of origin: Colombia
What I do.
I teach and do basic theoretical research in quantum and atom optics. I greatly enjoy advising students and motivating them toward research. At my former home institution, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, I was also involved in the administration of academic programs. I have organized several national and international meetings on optics, and for more than a decade I have been involved in voluntary work toward the promotion of optics research and education worldwide, with emphasis in developing countries. Since October 2008, I have been serving as the Secretary General of the International Commission for Optics.
What I find exciting.
There is excitement everywhere for me: facing a new research problem and being able to explain or find applications for a new phenomenon; leading a student to become an independent researcher and being there when his or her own ideas start flowing; helping open new horizons for young people through new academic programs, new research topics, international collaboration, and to aid in their professional growth; exploring new educational techniques; meeting people throughout the world who share my passion for optics and working with them; and knowing how proud my sons are of me.
What I wish someone had told me.
For me, what I was told and what I knew instinctively were more important than what I was not told. Starting out, my best guide was my own striving for excellence. I looked for and found the very best research institutions and advisors. I was told that my time is more valuable than many other resources; and that since science is universal, we scientists from developing countries are able to and must do research at the frontier. I wish that I had learned earlier that scientific research should contribute effectively to development to better serve society.