Mohammed Mostajo-Radji, a former MCO graduate student from Paola Arlotta’s lab, has been named one of El Mundo Boston’s 2017 Latino 30 under 30. These individuals are chosen based on their impact on the Massachusetts Latino community in a variety of fields.
“I had a couple of friends who won last year and nominated me,” Mostajo-Radji said. “I am truly honored to be part of the list.”
Mostajo-Radji was nominated mainly for his efforts to create science clubs in his home country of Bolivia, under the umbrella of the Clubes de Ciencia or Science Clubs Latin America (SCLA) program.
“I would say Bolivia is the underrepresented among the underrepresented,” he said. “Despite having 10 million people, there is only one PhD program in the country and a couple of Masters programs. So science is not much of an option when you think on a career.”
Mostajo-Radji’s clubs were established during his time at Harvard when he was first introduced to the SCLA program. Through this initiative, science clubs have been established in countries like Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, and Peru, and the organization is currently applying for nonprofit status in the United States.
“Having a group of people that took science under their wing has created major impact in the country,” he said. “We have not only grown tremendously as a program, from 100 students a year to 400 for 2018, we are also taking quite a few steps towards long term policy changes. I have become a member of the advisory boards for the Bolivian National Academy of Science, as well as the Bolivian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a few of my teammates have taken leadership positions in these organizations. So we are truly bringing academia, government and industry together to make a long lasting impact on the students.”
Though Mostajo-Radji has moved on to postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco, he has no plans to scale back on his efforts on Bolivia.
“Science Clubs Bolivia has grown well beyond the original outreach program,” he said. “We now have our own symposiums, networking sessions, and we organize the biggest hackathon in the country. We are currently in talks with our partners to build our own building that will be a mixture of an innovation lab and a VC [venture capital] firm focused on technology-based projects. I have no doubts that I have the strongest of teams and I have learned so much from all of them: from fundraising in the private sector, to marketing events to architectural design. Every night when I go home after lab is a learning experience.”