Porras featured in Smithsonian exhibit

Dr. Ana Maria Porras, assistant professor, is now one of the many women on display in the Smithsonian Exhibit, an exhibit called “If Then, She Can,” honoring women trying to change the world. Porras is one of 12 Latinas featured in the exhibit.

“My favorite part about the exhibit was interacting with Colombian and Latin American families during the opening weekend. It was a very clear reminder that representation does matter,” said Dr. Porras.

From March 5 to 27, the Arts + Industries Building’s FUTURES exhibition, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, and Smithsonian Gardens will partner to host the Smithsonian debut of #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit, the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together, to be installed on and around the National Mall. The 120 life-size 3D-printed statues are of a diverse coalition of contemporary women STEM innovators and role models leading a variety of fields, from protecting wildlife, discovering galaxies, building YouTube’s platform, to trying to cure cancer.

Dr. Porras leads the Tissue-Microbe Interactions lab, specialized in engineering in vitro models of disease to study human-microbe interactions. She is particularly interested in understanding how microbes interact with human extracellular matrix to drive disease in the contexts of the microbiome, global health, and infectious disease. Dr. Porras is also a science artist and an expert on inclusive multilingual science communication.

IF/THEN® is an initiative of the Lyda Hill Philanthropies designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers. From tagging sharks, searching for extraterrestrial life, fighting superbugs, to choreographing robots, these STEM innovators were selected through a rigorous process with a commitment to inspire the next generation. Lyda Hill Philanthropies partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to select and manage the AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors program: engaging high-profile role models to inspire middle school girls.

The #IfThenSheCan exhibit will be appear on the National Mall from March 5 to March 27 and will be “the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together,” according to the event press release.