Alberto I. Roca, PhD
Executive Director, DiverseScholar, a project of Community Partners
Academic Background: Biochemistry, Bioinformatics
- Work Experience
- Research Publications
- News, Feature, and Policy Publications & Presentations
- Topics for Invited Talks, Seminars, & Presentations
- Quotes Reflecting Diversity & Postdoctoral Expertise
- Science Summary Biosketch
- Diversity Experience
- Ph.D., Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997
- B.S., Biology, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, 1988
- Executive Director, DiverseScholar — a project of Community Partners, 2012 to present
- Editor, MinorityPostdoc.org, 2004 to present
- Director of Outreach, Recruitment, & Retention;
Graduate Division, University of California, Irvine, 2007
- Assistant Project Scientist, University of California, Irvine, 2005 - 2007
- UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Irvine, 2003 - 2005
- (NIH & NSF) Postdoctoral Fellow, Rice University, Houston, Texas, 1998 - 2003
- Flash Tank pitch, National Center for Women & Information Technology, winner, 2016
- ASBMB/Future of Research Inaugural Hack Day, winner, 2015
- Echoing Green Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, semi-finalist, 2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016
- Voto Latino Innovators Challenge, semi-finalist (with lead Ashley Lopez), 2014
- UNITY Journalists for Diversity “NewU Startup Competition”, finalist, 2013
- BioVis Data Contest, Honorable Mention for JProfileGrid Bioinformatics Software, 2013
- KillerApp Award, 2nd place at ISMB2010 for JProfileGrid Bioinformatics Software
- University of California, Irvine Chancellor’s Living Our Values Award, 2007
- Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Presidential Service Award, 2006
- C.M. and Demaris Hudspeth Endowed Award for Student Life and Clubs, Rice University, club advisor award, 2001
Selected Research Publications
- Roca AI (2014) ProfileGrids: a sequence alignment visualization paradigm that avoids the limitations of Sequence Logos, BMC Proceedings 8(Suppl 2):S6
- Roca AI, Abajian AC#, Vigerust DJ (2013) ProfileGrids solve the large alignment visualization problem: influenza hemeagglutinin example.
F1000Research 2: 2
- Roca AI, Almada AE#, Abajian AC# (2008) ProfileGrids as a new visual representation of large multiple sequence alignments: a case study of the RecA protein family.
BMC Bioinformatics 9: 554; “highly accessed” article
- Singleton SF, Roca AI, Lee AM, Xiao J (2007) Probing the structure of RecA-DNA filaments: advantages of a fluorescent guanine analog
Tetrahedron 63: 3553-3566
- Roca AI, Singleton SF (2003) Direct evaluation of a mechanism for activation of the RecA nucleoprotein filament.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 125: 15366-15375
- # = undergraduate protege
News, Feature, and Policy Publications & Presentations
- Roca AI, Apple Diversity Forgets Latinos. All Digitocracy, October 3 (2016)
- Roca AI, Using Social Media to Diversify Science, book chapter for Science Blogging: The Essential Guide, Editors: C. Wilcox, B. Brookshire, & J. Goldman,
Yale University Press (2016)
- Lee DN & Roca AI, Apply for the Science Writers 2015 Diversity Travel Fellowship
Urban Scientist, August 14 (2015)
- Pallares-Quezada C, Crow D, Gordon-McKeon S, Zhurakhinskaya M, & Roca AI. Opportunities in Open Source at the Tapia Conference DiverseScholar 6:3 (2015)
- Crow D & Roca AI. AAC&U Keynote Addresses Student Identity and the STEM “Push-Out Culture” DiverseScholar 5:9 (2014)
- Roca AI. A #MinorityImmersion Solution to Disrupt #TechDisparities
DiverseScholar 4:4 (2013)
- Roca AI. Birth of a New Developer Bootcamp to Catalyze #TechInclusion
DiverseScholar 4:3 (2013)
- Roca AI. Minority Postdocs are the Source for Future Faculty of Color.
DiverseScholar 4:2 (2013)
- Roca AI. Redirecting National Attention to the Needs of Underrepresented Postdocs.
DiverseScholar 3:4 (2012)
- Roca AI. #SCIO12 Policy Report: Academia is Productive but Messy - Effects on (Mis)Communication. DiverseScholar 3:1 (2012)
- Roca AI. Is Your Campus Producing Award-Winning Student Research?
DiverseScholar 2:5 (2011)
- Brooks C and Roca AI. MinorityPostdoc.org Promotes New Postdoctoral Events at the 2010 SACNAS Annual Meeting. DiverseScholar 2:2 (2011)
- Roca AI and Yoder JB. Online LGBT Pride: Diversity in Science Blog Carnival.
DiverseScholar 2:1 (2011)
- Roca AI. We Are All Minorities, so Let’s Help Each Other: Introducing DiverseScholar.
DiverseScholar 2:0 (2011)
- Roca AI and Taylor DG. NOGLSTP “Out To Innovate” STEM Career Summit.
DiverseScholar 1:2 (2010).
- Roca AI, Aguilar-Roca NM, & Juarez MT. Illuminate research and teach science postdocs.
Science (E-Letter, 27 May 2010)
- Higa M and Roca AI. 2010 SACNAS national conference welcomes postdocs.
University of California Postdoc Newsletter, Issue 4, p3 (May 2010)
- Roca AI & Vidal Pizarro I. Diversity Funding for Your Postdoctoral Research: Advice for a Successful Experience. SACNAS News newsletter 12 (1): 20-21, Summer/Fall 2009
- Roca AI. (2009) Uncovering the invisible minority postdoc talent pool: SACNAS best practices; poster presentation at the Conference on Understanding Interventions; Bethesda, MD.
- Hammond LE, Aguilar-Roca N, Belcher M, Bohlson S, Gonzales R, Ho S, Roca AI, Hsieh C, and Leslie F. (2006) The UC-Irvine Biomedical Trainee Network: extending the NSF ADVANCE model toward pre- and post-doctoral trainees; poster presentation at the National Postdoctoral Assoc. Conference, Bethesda, MD.
- Torres M, Aguilar-Roca N, Barrera A, Juarez M, Rudati J, Vidal Pizarro I, Vigerust D, Yoshida L, and Roca AI. (2006) The SACNAS Postdoc Committee as a model for diversifying the science workforce; poster presentation at the National Postdoctoral Association Conference, Bethesda, MD.
- Roca AI. Diversity as a life skill: collaborations between SACNAS and the NPA.
NPA POSTDOCket newsletter 3 (3): 5-6, Summer 2005
- Roca AI. 20/20 Foresight: the new postdoc programs at SACNAS.
SACNAS News newsletter 7 (3): 20-21, Summer 2005
- Roca AI. Do we want our public schools to be run like Enron? A report on the 27th annual TACHE conference. HACER website. Posted April 22, 2002
- Roca AI. Their experience, our legacy: a brief history of Hispanics at Rice University.
HACER El Tecolote newsletter, pp. 4-5, Summer 2000
Topics for Invited Talks, Seminars, & Presentations
Career and Professional Development Advice
- Blogging, Tweeting, & Writing: An Online Presence for Your Career
- Connecting Postdocs to Academic Diversity Stakeholders
- Diversity Funding for Your Postdoctoral Research
- Finding a Postdoc Project and Advisor
- MinorityPostdoc & DiverseScholar Resources for Your Career
- Preparing for Graduate School
- Science Societies and Communities: Benefits, Diversity, & Networking
Policy Recommendations about Postdocs and Diversity
- Minority Postdocs are the Source for Future Faculty of Color
- Strategies to Diversify Your Institution’s Postdoctoral Population
- Institutional Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowships
- Policies Impacting Postdoctoral Hiring & Diversity
- Special Issues Faced by Minority Postdoctoral Fellows
- How Many (Minority) Postdocs? Where Do They Go?
- Using Social Media to Diversify Science
Selected Service Activities
- Member, Advisory Committee, Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Research Careers, 2013 - present
- Member, Council of Advisors, National Postdoctoral Association, 2012 - present
- FASEB/MARC Peer Mentor, 2006 - 2008
Quotes Reflecting Diversity & Postdoctoral Expertise
- E. Yong , Science’s Minority Talent Pool Is Growing — But Draining Away, The Atlantic, Nov. 22, 2016
Quote: “If a search committee or hiring department has not made a proactive effort to attract underrepresented minority candidates, then the organization needs to try harder or face the consequence that the search is halted. Campus leadership need to exercise such power to signal diversity as a priority.”
- M. Keshavan, Overwhelmingly white male lineup at a medical conference sparks ‘public shaming’, STAT, Aug. 15, 2016
Quote: “this type of public shaming is important…The bottom line is, we need better interventions and solutions”
- Mok H. UC Postdoc program encourages diversity. UC Newsroom, Nov. 1, 2009
Quote: “While most postdoc fellowships provide a source of funding for research, many diversity programs such as UC’s also emphasize networking and mentoring, allowing people who are in a position to hire to see candidates and judge “intangibles that don’t necessarily come across in a CV.”
- Hundt L. & Kurzweil J. Meaningful mentoring: Native American and Latino success stories. Science 318 (5847): 123-126 (Oct. 5, 2007)
Quote: “The value of peer-to-peer networks is to ameliorate the difficulties that minorities can face in majority settings by sharing experiences with and finding empathy from sympathetic colleagues.”
- Bold K. Advocate for postdocs: Alberto Roca, assistant project scientist of molecular biology & biochemistry, supports unsung scholars. [email protected], May 22, 2007
Quote: “Most postdocs are the engine of innovation and productivity in academia. However, they receive little respect. UCI is at the forefront of advancing postdoctoral training, but much work needs to be done. I enjoy contributing to that effort.”
- Choi CQ. It’s About Who You Know…: Networks for Minority Life Scientists. The Scientist 19(Supplement 3): S45 (November 7, 2005)
Quote: [Networking Do’s and Don’ts: Don’t feed into stereotypes others may have of you.] “There are times and places to be outspoken about your culture and [other times] to be more careful. At SACNAS, nobody thinks twice about speaking in Spanish, but if you’re networking in an environment where many are not bilingual, they may feel awkward.”
- Gewin V. Learning to Mentor. Nature 436: 436-437 (July 21, 2005)
Quote: “Creating an affinity group where scientists are helping students culturally, as well as professionally, is important.”
- Wampler J. Wo! Men in Science? Untold Stories of the AWIS Minority… AWIS Magazine 34(2): 26-30 (Spring 2005)
Quote: “My outreach efforts have always centered on giving people the opportunity to achieve their potential. In the area of science, I mentor female and minority students about their interests in graduate education. I work with organizations such as AWIS and SACNAS that encourage achievement in professional sciences for traditionally underrepresented groups.”
- Arnette R. Perspectives: Preparing Postdocs of Color. ScienceCareers (formerly MiSciNet), Sept 10, 2004
Quote: [describing bicultural mentoring:] “An immediate supervisor is the source of technical and career advice for your chosen discipline. However, someone else needs to be consulted to receive objective advice about balancing work with other responsibilities such as family, volunteer, and outreach activities.”
Science Summary Biosketch
Dr. Roca was a Project Scientist in the Biochemistry Department at the University of California, Irvine where he was formerly a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. His research involves using biophysical and bioinformatic approaches to understand the molecular mechanism of recombinational DNA repair. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received FASEB/MARC travel awards to present his work at the annual meetings of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB/ISMB), and the Biophysical Society. At the 2010 ISMB conference, his work received second place in the inaugural Killer App Award competition. The award recognized a novel bioinformatic method for visualizing large multiple sequence alignments.
Dr. Roca is a first-generation Peruvian-American born in Houston, Texas. He was principal investigator of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant that allowed him to organize postdoctoral activities at the SACNAS conference (including the Minority Postdoc Summit) and to create the web portal www.MinorityPostdoc.org. He founded the SACNAS Postdoc Committee (2005), served on the 2008 SACNAS Program Committee, and co-founded (in 2003 with Dr. Arti Patel) the Diversity Committee of the National Postdoctoral Association. Since 2003 Dr. Roca has organized many postdoc-related activities at the SACNAS and NPA conferences. He has also been an invited speaker on minority postdoctoral issues at the following conferences:
- Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)
- Compact for Faculty Diversity’s annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring
- COSEPUP Second Convocation on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience
- Howard University/UTEP Institute on Preparing for Postdoctoral Experiences in STEM
- UCSF Postdoc Boot Camp
In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Roca has received the UC-Irvine Chancellor’s Living Our Values Award as well as the SACNAS Presidential Service Award. In addition, Dr. Roca is a FASEB/MARC Peer Mentor allowing him to provide career advice to trainees at conferences such as FASEB Experimental Biology as well as at ABRCMS. Since 2010, he has been working full-time as a diversity career coach helping graduate students transition to postdoc training and helping grads/postdocs transition to professional positions. He accomplishes this by working with trainees directly as a career coach as well as by connecting institutional diversity stakeholders to job candidates. Since 2011, Dr. Roca is bridging the divide that exists between the minority and STEM blogging communities by profiling minority STEM bloggers on MinorityPostdoc.org, by curating the Diversity in Science Blog Carnivals, and by organizing sessions at the SACNAS, ScienceOnline, and LATISM conferences. Beginning in 2012, Dr. Roca’s activities have been institutionalized as the new non-profit, DiverseScholar — a project of the Los Angeles-based fiscal sponsor Community Partners. This represents the non-profit’s targeted audience of doctoral graduate students, postdocs, and junior professionals as well as activities involving multiple areas of diversity.
Editor’s note: MinorityPostdoc.org publishes profiles from its member database to facilitate networking and recruiting. Email us to submit your CV for consideration. We do not publicly release member’s contact information. Recruiters should email us if interested in particular candidates.
last updated 6-Jan-2017