Ivana Naomi Millán Flores in the laboratory. Ivana Naomi Millán Flores in the laboratory. Tec de Monterrey

Passion for astrobiology leads student to NASA program

Ivana Millán hopes to inspire Mexican and Latin American women to take up engineering

A university student in México state has been selected to participate in an astrobiology program at NASA.

Ivana Naomi Millán Flores, 22, spent hours staring through her telescope at the night sky as a child. Now in her eighth semester in biotechnological engineering at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Tec de Monterrey) México state campus, she has been chosen to join the International Air and Space Program to spend a week at NASA.

Millán was selected due to her investigation into the effects of the absence of gravity on cancer cells.

She is raising money through a crowdfunding campaign to be able to make this trip to NASA in the fall, as she still doesn’t have the funds to cover transport and accommodation.

Millán said that inspiring women to study engineering is one of her main motivations.

Millán has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund her participation in the NASA program.

“My priority is to return to Mexico to share the knowledge with those who want to be part of these projects. I think a big problem with women studying engineering is the lack of representation and exposure in the media,” she said. “… On social media I’ve received a lot of messages from girls who say they want to go to NASA when they grow up. It touches my heart to be able to be that example that I would have liked to have as a child.”

“I’m not going to NASA alone. I’ll take with me all the Latin American and Mexican women who want to make a change in their community,” she said.

Millán added that her openness to new experiences had been of benefit to her.

“I think a lot of people are insecure about doing new things … It’s a very important learning experience. Here you can train like any astronaut, from diving to flying a plane. I want to learn a lot more about the field of aerospace engineering and meet people from all over the world who are passionate about the same thing as me,” she said.

The student also gave credit to her university for helping to shape her character.

“Thanks to Tec I know what it is to be an entrepreneur, to be a leader. I know values like honesty and love … The Tec has given me the tools to be humble and understand that everything we have is to be shared … to put our knowledge at the service and disposal of everyone … to be an agent of change … this wouldn’t have been achieved if I hadn’t studied here,” she said.

Mexico News Daily

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