About Us

PR-SPRInT was born in 2019 from the need to forge professionals interested in aerospace and the basic sciences related to NASA missions. With this in mind, a group of Professors from different disciplines and led by Dr. Eduardo Nicolau, took on the task of devising a project in this direction. The project was designed with students in mind, and as such the program seeks to support them to persist in their academic degrees to eventually graduate. One of the peculiarities of this project is that it provides professional development opportunities, workshops in scientific entrepreneurship and in the development of prototypes and 3D printing. Participating students and professors have the unique opportunity to collaborate and carry out work in conjunction with NASA scientists. PR-SPRInT aims to be spearheading in the development of training programs related to NASA’s goals.

The project has the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras as the lead institution with other three participating institutions: University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, University of Puerto Rico-Cayey and the Gurabo Campus of the Ana G. Méndez University System.

The vision of the PR-SPRInT is to serve as a platform and common groundfloor for researchers, students and teachers to create a community that engage the next generation of explorers.

The mission of the PR-SPRInT is to train and support a cohort of students and faculty to collectively work on NASA mission goals related to life support systems and batteries.

Engaging, Inclusive, Collaborative, Futuristic.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Eduardo Nicolau


  • 2012 – Ph. D. Analytical Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, Puerto Rico, USA
  • 2005 – BS Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, Puerto Rico, USA

Dr. Eduardo Nicolau is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPR-RP) Campus. He completed a doctoral degree at UPR-RP on Chemistry focusing on the development of technologies for energy and water reclamation applications. Following these interests and in collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Nicolau presented a proof-of-concept (patented) for a device to ultimately generate energy and purified water from urine.

Nicolau’s research laboratory seeks to understand and contribute in the areas of:

  1. Water purification: Design, synthesis and fabrication of bioinspired membranes for molecular separations in the liquid phase
  2. Tissue regeneration: Bioactive electrospun fiber mats as regenerative surfaces for bone regeneration
  3. Sensors: Aptamer/Block-copolymer templated electrodes for the detection of neurotoxins and contaminants



Dr. Brad R Weiner
Foto Miguel Goenaga

Dr. Miguel A. Goenaga

Assistant Professor
Office: EDI 204


Graduate Students

Luis Bermudez

Luis Bermudez

Chemistry Graduate Student
PhD Candidate: Chemistry

Project: Development of reactive and antifouling Janus membranes for water desalination
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
Future goals: Work in industry or postdoc
About me: dancing (Salsa & Bachata) , singing and exercises.

Keyla A. Lopez Pérez

Keyla A. López Pérez

Future Goals: Complete my PhD and continue with a Post Doctorade
Project : New Generation of Lithium Ion Batteries
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
About me: Love my life in a laboratory, love differetes kinds of Music, Perserverance person

Jose Fernando Florez Gomez

Jose Fernando Florez Gomez

Program: Phd in Chemical Physics
Project: Nanomaterial for Anodes with application in Lithium-Ion Batteries
About me: Scientific Computing and Material Science are my principal areas of research. As a hobbies playing the guitar is my favorite one. I also practice Soccer, Swimming, CrossFit and Running.

Nischal Oli

Nischal Oli

Project Name:  Energy storage Materials research in SPECLAB
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
Future goal: To develop the High-Performance energy storage battery
About me: Hobbies:
Enjoy reading and love gardening. Flowers symbolize both love and peace. I love sports activities

Justin Borrero

Justin Borrero

Chemical Engineering
Future Goals: Complete Masters Degree and Continue on Doctorate Studies
Project: Support Ni and Ni-Alloy Catalyst for CO2 Methanation
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About Me: I am a social person with a desire to adventure and whenever I am not in the lab and studying, I am working on my art and music.

Rene Alberto Purcell Wiltz

René Alberto Purcell Wiltz

Environmental Sciences
Project: Metabolome analysis of Amaranthus grown on different growth mediums, a promising food and medicinal crop for possible inclusion on long-term space travel and occupation.
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
About me: I have always had a keen interest in living organisms. Whether it is plants or animals I have persistently felt a deep connection towards these topics

Crystal Otero

Crystal Otero Vélez

Chemistry Graduate Student
Project: Synthesis of Ultra Hydrophobic Metallophthalocyanines Compounds for NOx Gas Sensing.
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
Future goals: My future goal is to become an investigator and educator with a passion of contributing on the development of the future generations of scientists and researchers.
About me: On my free time I enjoy reading novels, traveling, and learning new things.

Jennifer Gil

Jennifer (Jenny) Gil Acevedo

Ph.D.  in Environmental Science
Project: Microalgae to space
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInt
Future goals: I would like to start my own microalgae business in which I could grow microalgae and make various products with them. I also want to continue giving talks and conferences throughout the world so that everyone knows the importance of microalgae. 
About me: I am a first-year Ph.D. in environmental science studying working with the microalgae for the potential to waste management in the space environment.  I have interned at the Smithsonian twice and was also an AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellow who worked at CNN en Español. I was a 2018-19 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow.

Undergraduate Students

Adrialis Figueroa

Adrialis M. Figueroa Sánchez

Ciencias Interdisciplinarias
Future Goals: PhD
Project: Implementation of Lyotropic Liquid Crystals for the functionalization of Bio-reactive Forward Osmosis Membranes
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About me: enjoy reading and visiting different places

Jorge G Padilla Zayas

Jorge G. Padilla Zayas

Biology – Cellular and molecular
Future Goals: MD
Project: Biomaterial development for bone tissue regeneration
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About me: plastic arts, craft brewing, kitesurfing

Michael Martínez Torres

Michael Martínez Torres

Electric Engineering
Future Goals: PhD
Project: Unmanned Systems for Environmental Data Compilation
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: Reading, Programming, Robotics and Music

Berny Rafael Bravo Sierra

Berny Rafael Bravo Sierra

Computer Engineering
Future Goals: PhD
Project: Unmanned Systems for Environmental Data Compilation
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: Reading, Programming and Music

Yanizbeth Yambó

Yanizbeth Yambó Chévere

Future Goals: MD/PhD
Project name: Preparation and characterization of nano-fibrous membrane for water applications
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About me: Passion for sports and animal

Frank A. Martínez Henríquez

Frank A. Martínez Henríquez

Physics Major
Future Goals: Undergraduate Major in Physics and Graduate Studies in Physics
Project: Lithium-ion Batteries
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: art, music, swimming and animal lover.

Miguel Sepulveda

Miguel A. Sepúlveda Pagán

BS Chemistry
Future Goals: MS
Project name: Energetics and Molecular Structure Computations of Polyamide and Polysulfone Interacting with Urea or 1-Cyclohexylpipedrine in Water 
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About me: Keen interest in sports cars, I also enjoy a lot going to the beach

Former Students

Cid Marie Calderon Rodriguez

Cid Marie Calderón Rodriguez

Education: BS student – Interdisciplinary Studies in Natural Sciences.
Future Goals: M.S. or PharmD
Project: Microporous carbon hybrid nanostructure for supercapacitors
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: drawing, crafts, sewing, and pet-lover.

Juan Carlos Vázquez López

Juan Carlos Vázquez López

Education: BS student – Chemistry
Future Goals: PH.D
Project: Catalytic efficiency and recoverability of different iron sources in the production of biofuel from microalgae via hydrothermal liquefaction
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: Video games, Poetry, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry

Roberto J. Herrera

Roberto J. Herrera

Project: Computational Elucidation of the Molecular Structure of an Arsenic Binding Aptamer in Water
Research Program: NASA PR-SPRInT
About me: I enjoy anime, video games and playing pickup basketball.

Christian O. Plaza-Rivera

Christian O. Plaza-Rivera

Major / Minor: Physics / Applied Mathematics
Future Goals: PhD in Applied Physics
Project: Design and Development of High-Performance Batteries for Space Exploration Missions
Research Program: PR-SPRInT (NASA)
About me: Basketball, Martial Arts, Photography, Graphic Arts, Astronomy, and Material Science.


Graduate Students

Jairo Herrera

Jairo Herrera

PhD in Analytical Chemistry
Project: Hydrogels and membranes for the removal of contaminants of emerging concern.
Funding source: NASA EPSCoR
​Currently: Eli Lilly del Caribe


  • Gerardo Quintana: UPR-RP undergraduate student
  • Yaiel Rodríguez: Ponce School of Medicine 2018
  • Victor Rodríguez: N/A
  • Christian Alvarez: PhD Candidate, University of Michigan
  • José Lasalde Ramírez: Engineering student at UPR Mayaguez
  • Arlin Gúzmán: N/A
  • Sebastián López: N/A
  • Edwin Peña: PhD Student at UPR Río Piedras
  • Claudia Pérez: N/A
  • Adriana Vázquez: UPR-RP undergraduate
  • Andrew Torres: UPR-RP undergraduate
  • Maria F. García: N/A
  • Brian Rivera: N/A
  • Damarys Ramos: UPR Medicine School 2017
  • Llelyanne Rivera: UPR-RP undergraduate
  • Germán Villalongo: UPR-RP undergraduate
  • Lilliana Meléndez: UPR-RP undergraduate
  • Emmanuel Dwomoh:  UPR REU CLIMB Program 2016
  • Cristina Rivera: UPR Medicine School 2017
  • Mariela Loyola: Undergraduate UPR-RP
  • Isabel Mayorga: Ponce School of Medicine 2016
  • Ana Rivera: Bayamón School of Medicine 2016
  • Carlos García: UPR MSC School of Medicine 2016
  • Claudia Herdocia: UPR MSC Dental School 2016
  • Karlene Vega: Ponce School of Medicine 2017
  • Kathleen Morales: Ponce School of Medicine 2016
  • Valerie Gómez: Undergraduate student at UPR-RR
  • Norma González: N/A
  • Melivette Feliciano: N/A


NASA Partners

Non-NASA Partners

NASA Partners