Newswise — Luis R. Martinez, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), is one of 15 infectious disease researchers selected as 2017-18 Public Engagement Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. Researchers achieving this distinction have been selected based on demonstrated leadership and excellence in their research careers, and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society.

“As a member of this cohort, I will strive to be a role model to other scientists in engaging with public audiences,” Martinez said. “For example, a key goal is to learn how to effectively use social media as a tool to engage public audiences in scientific conversations. As people learn differently and are highly influenced by the latest social media platforms, we can significantly foster public awareness and passion about science by leveraging these channels. And, as a member of the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) committee on issues impacting under-represented minorities, I am particularly interested in engaging Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans in this dialogue.”

Martinez’s primary research goals are directed toward understanding the complex interactions of infectious microorganisms with the immune system, as the balance in this interplay impacts whether host damage occurs. As an independent investigator, he has been engaged in diverse projects involving bacteria and fungi trying to discover how microorganisms cause disease, how the hosts protect themselves against infectious organisms, and how microbes adapt to environmental changes. His research program intertwines the fields of infectious diseases, immunology, drug abuse, and dermatology. Based on published research, he has recently received an NIH grant that will critically investigate the effects of methamphetamine use on wound healing and inflammation.

At NYITCOM, he lectures on infectious diseases and immunology for the basic science curriculum for first- and second-year medical students. Additionally, he works to train undergraduate and medical students and expose them to biomedical research, with the goal of enhancing their potential for pursuing scientific and health‐related careers.

The 15 AAAS Public Engagement Fellows selected demonstrate clear commitment to engage the public on many critical issues. The new AAAS Public Engagement Fellows will convene in June for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking, and public engagement plan development. After the training, the Fellows will be equipped with resources and connections to develop and implement public engagement activities, opportunities for training other scientists in their communities, and increased capacity for public engagement leadership.

Martinez is an advocate of scientific citizenship and involved in diversity issues in the natural sciences and medicine. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2006 and has completed scholarly work at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.