Cuban neuroscientist gives ‘last lecture’

El Centro Chicano and the Office of the Provost welcomed Cuban neuroscientist, Pedro Valdes-Sosa, to speak about Cuban-American relationships on Monday in Seeley G. Mudd hall.

The lecture was the first event of the Latino Last Lecture series, where prominent speakers will showcase their professional, personal and cultural life experiences, answering the question, “If you could only give one last lecture, what would you say?”

Valdes-Sosa is the general vice director for research of the Cuban Neurosciences Center and also a member of the editorial boards of publications such as Neuroimage, Meddic and Audiology and Neurotology.

During the lecture, Valdes-Sosa mentioned many of his career accomplishments when the field of neuroscience was emerging, which include studying wavelengths and detecting correlations between people’s health and personalities. Valdes-Sosa also developed a program to track brain waves during a coma using a personal computer.

The overall theme of the lecture was the importance of using science to benefit society and the question of how scientific accomplishments will be achieved now that the embargo between the United States and Cuba has been lifted.

The U.S. and Cuba had limited interaction within the last 50 years. Valdes-Sosa explained that the Cuban Neurosciences Center has contributed significantly to Cuba’s overall economy.

“We have a country with very little resources, so we began institutions that would create production and input in the economy,” Valdes-Sora said.

While the Cuban Neurosciences Center is involved in various research projects, it also engages in projects that provide the Cuban people with healthcare services.

“We have production facilities where we create hearing aids through 3D printing. We do research, but are also involved in production,” Valdes-Sosa said.

Many of the people that attended the event expressed interest because they wanted to hear a professional’s insight, especially because of his experience as a doctor.

“As a human biology major, I wished to listen to the insight of a professional with a background in medicine,” said freshman Melissa Wenceslao. “With his insight, I felt like I could pursue my studies further, especially since he is a Latino.”

Others were motivated to learn more about Cuba.

“My friends and I are taking a trip to Cuba for spring break, and wanted to learn more about the country,” said Michael Thorson, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering. “We wanted to get a completely new perspective,”

Braulio Hoyos, a junior double majoring in public policy and development and geodesign said that the lecture resonated with the topics he is exposed to in his classes.

“In my PPD classes, we usually talk about how, if you have a plan for the youth and the elderly, you have a plan for everyone,” Hoyos said. “Overall, I found that this lecture reinforced this idea, and it encouraged me to do good for society.”

Valdes-Sosa concluded his lecture by making remarks on the importance of implementing preventative measures and establishing a reliable healthcare system.

“We have to be concerned that preventive measures and primary healthcare cannot be subject to private interests,” Valdes-Sosa said. “If we were able to do so much before when there were barriers, what can we do now?”