Unique Scientist: Dr. Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez

Time to meet Dr. Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez (He/him)! Dr. Cotilla-Sanchez is an electrical engineering professor originally from Spain currently working at Oregon State University in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m an electrical engineering professor working with very talented research students in power systems modeling and protection. We study many aspects of infrastructure resilience and security, some of them very visible (large blackouts) and some of them very invisible (access to energy resources in remote communities).

What made you want to become a scientist?
Probably the combination of two items. First, an old calculator I found at my grandma’s house back in my small village-hometown in southern Spain. It belonged to my grandpa who I didn’t have the chance to meet. Second, a book I got as a gift when I was 8 years old: “1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Science.” It helped me focus on reading longer and longer texts because I could go to bed and open the book randomly and learn something. Many times, especially on chapters about physics, I would go back and read and re-read until I started to understand a little bit more each time.

“I am an hispanic, queer engineer that tries to make a difference by supporting the next generation of engineers to advance in their careers and their lives.”

Dr. Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I believe not looking like, or being only interested in what a traditional electrical engineer “should’.’ I am an hispanic, queer engineer that tries to make a difference by supporting the next generation of engineers to advance in their careers and their lives. An important part of that support, and perhaps the trickiest, is to break down many structures that are violent and obstruct the access of minorities to these professions. 

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
My other passion is rowing. I did crew at my home institution as a student (University of Vermont) and at some point had to stop because felt that a career in academia and sports were not compatible. After a couple of tries during my first few years as a professor, I recently made a comeback with a competitive Masters level team, and hope that I can contribute to make the sport more inclusive of (also unique!) athletes of many backgrounds. I’m currently training for my first Head of the Charles regatta in October.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
To rethink drastically the way we do academic conferences. Make conferences happen at smaller venues, where there’s a place for sincere collaboration, multiple means to access it (including remotely), and not perpetuating rich-gets-richer schemes.

“An important part of that support, and perhaps the trickiest, is to break down many structures that are violent and obstruct the access of minorities to these professions.”

Dr. Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My graduate school advisor, who believed in my work and is such a talented and kind person. At my current institution, I am confident that participating in our ADVANCE program completely changed the way I see my job, and influenced my future career the most.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
My third Ph.D. student graduated!


#QueerInSTEM, #LatinxInSTEM

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