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The Illinois EPA Celebrates Latino Heritage Month!

A Message from IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett:

On behalf of the men and women of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency I would like to invite you to celebrate Happy Latino Heritage Month 2014!
During National Latino Heritage Month we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.

Our celebration of Latino Heritage Month includes this webpage which will help us all appreciate the contributions to the sciences made by these Latino scientists and pioneers in their fields.

An interesting Illinois fact related to Latino Heritage Month: In 2007 Governor Quinn (serving as Lt. Governor at the time) proposed “sister” relationships between waterways in Illinois, much like the Sister Cities program).  There is a link with 8 waterways including Mexico’s Lake Patzcuaro and Brazil’s Capibaribe River. More information on that topic is at:

I hope you find this website to be interesting and educational, and wish you a Happy Latino Heritage Month.

Information About National Latino Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Latino Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

Notable Scientists of Latino Heritage

Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa, 1905-93, American biochemist and educator, b. Spain, M.D. Univ. of Madrid, 1929. After teaching at the universities of Madrid, Heidelberg, and Oxford, he came to the United States in 1940. In 1954 he was appointed chairman of the department of biochemistry at New York Univ. He became an American citizen in 1956. With Arthur Kornberg he received the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA), an organic compound that carries hereditary qualities in all reproduction.

Mario Molina

Mario Molina, a chemist and a Nobel laureate, was born on March 19, 1943 in Mexico City, Mexico. At the University of California at Berkeley in 1973, Molina and Sherwood Rowland began researching chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), then widely used in refrigerators, spray cans, and cleaning solvents. They discovered that the release of CFCs could destroy the ozone layer in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet light to get through to Earth and potentially increasing the rate of skin cancer. Their efforts led to CFC production being banned in most countries, and they received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Luis Walter Alvarez

Luis Walter Alvarez was born in1911 in San Francisco, California. Alvarez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1968. He helped design a ground-controlled radar system for aircraft landings Radio distance and direction indicator-and with his son developed the meteorite theory of dinosaur extinction in 1978. He died in 1988.

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa was born in Los Angeles, California in 1958. Astronaut Ellen Ochoa first left Earth in July 1991 and became the world's first Hispanic female astronaut. A mission specialist and flight engineer, she has since logged more than 900 hours in space on four flights, the last in 2002. Dr. Ochoa's many awards include NASA's Exceptional Service Medal (1997) and Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995). Besides being an astronaut, researcher, and engineer, Ochoa is a classical flutist.

Carlos Noriega

Carlos Noriega was born in 1959 in Lima, Peru. An astronaut, Carlos Noriega also had a distinguished career as a Marine Corps pilot before venturing millions of miles beyond planet Earth. A mission specialist and computer scientist, Lieutentant Colonel Noriega has visited Mir and helped to assemble the International Space Station.

Franklin Chang-Dìaz

Franklin Chang-Dìaz was born in 1950 in Costa Rica. Chang-Dìaz moved to the United States when he was in high school, and got a doctorate in applied plasma physics from MIT in 1977. He eventually achieved his dream of becoming an astronaut, entering space for the first time aboard Columbia in January 1986. He was the first Costa Rican astronaut, and, as of 2004, he was one of only two astronauts to have served on seven space missions, the other being Jerry Ross. Chang-Dìaz is also the director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where he has been developing a plasma rocket.

Links to other Latino Heritage Month web sites:

Hispanic Heritage

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