Moreu Muñiz, Fabiola; Rivera Avilés, Nilenid; Rivera Vélez, José; Merced Torres, Ivián;

Cruz Torres, Emmanuel

The southern area of Puerto Rico (PR) has very few opportunities of scientific nature, even less so when it comes to Neuroscience. This lack of neuroscience knowledge is reflected in schools, universities, and throughout the whole population. Due to this growing need, a NeuroBoricuas chapter was established in January 2021 to perpetuate the interest in the discipline of Neuroscience and Scientific Research at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PUCPR, spanish acronym) at Ponce. Our chapter, NeuroBoricuas PUCPR, plans to accomplish this goal by increasing Neuroscience training opportunities and exposure to Neuroscience through conferences, workshops, among other educational experiences; thus promoting the study of Neuroscience at the undergraduate and graduate level. To determine the impact of NeuroBoricuas PUCPR so far, responses to a questionnaire were collected from 62 (out of 66) members of the association. We collected demographic information and found that the majority of students are from the southern region of Puerto Rico and in the range of 20 and 21 years of age.

To measure our impact, we asked our members whether being part of NeuroBoricuas PUCPR changed their professional goals. Interestingly, we found that 32% of members changed their professional interests after attending the activities sponsored by NeuroBoricuas PUCPR. Most of the members that changed their professional goals opted to pursue a more research focused career path (i.e. choosing to pursue a Ph.D. instead of M.D.). In addition, more than half of the responses demonstrated that, prior to being part of NeuroBoricuas PUCPR, our members have never been exposed to Neuroscience (58%) and, due to this exposure, their interest in research increased (97%). In conclusion, our results demonstrate the importance of promoting Neuroscience in places where knowledge about this discipline is still lacking. We hope to continue impacting the members of our association as well as the whole community in the near and distant future.

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