Ashley Cortes Hernandez hopes to spread STEM enthusiasm among Latinx youth

Ashley Cortes Hernandez is excited to bring Latinx representation to the team in hopes of making STEM more accessible to underrepresented communities, especially the Latinx youth.

Cortes Hernandez recently finished her first month as the new assistant outreach coordinator for Discovery Outreach.

Ashley Cortes Hernandez
Ashley Cortes Hernandez

“I wanted to pursue outreach after graduate school because I wanted to be part of a community that brought STEM to a broader audience and made it accessible to everyone,” Cortes Hernandez says. “I really just took the plunge and I am so lucky to be part of such an amazing team that gets to do just that every day.” 

Discovery Outreach is a partnership within the Discovery Building supported by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute. The goal of Discovery Outreach is to share science with the public and to empower researchers to be able to share their work. They also partner with community centers to do events like after school programs and family science initiatives. 

In 2020-21, Discovery Outreach has continued to provide programming to the community virtually by having field trips, the annual Wisconsin Science festival and Saturday Science all online. 

Cortes Hernandez, a biochemist from Puerto Rico was originally drawn to the youth aspect of the job, noting that her own career in STEM would have been a lot more accessible if she had had programming like this when she was young. 

“Latinx representation in STEM would be an amazing way to encourage marginalized kids to pursue science,” Cortes Hernandez says. 

Although Cortes Hernandez is most excited about her involvement in youth programming, she also does a great amount of work on social media projects and behind-the-scenes efforts to ensure these events run smoothly. 

“We are thrilled to have Ashley join our team,” says Dan Murphy, outreach and lab manager for Discovery Outreach. “It’s hard to believe that she’s joined us so recently in our virtual environment; her enthusiasm and dedication are very real, and we’ve been able to continue our significant work in earnest.”

Cortes Hernandez played an active role in the development of the recent Saturday Science event that featured Black STEAM innovators during Black History month. She helped prepare the featured biographies and graphics for social media, making the content more accessible to the public. 

Saturday Science typically takes place on the second Saturday of every month and is currently presented in an online format.