About Us

The Ignite Science Initiative was launched in 2014 by Abel Baerga, PhD, Gualberto Rodriguez, Benjamin Torres, MSc, and Eduardo Canto, MD, all Colegio San Ignacio alumni, and Ritmo Aponte, then Principal of Colegio San Ignacio, with the goal of promoting interest in the sciences among high school students in Puerto Rico by providing hands-on advanced laboratory experiences and capacitating high school teachers to provide similar experiences in their classrooms.  As part of the Initiative, the Ignite Biotechnology Summer Program was inaugurated in 2015.


Key Staff

Benjamin Torres, MScProgram Coordinator

Mr. Torres has a B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has 15 years of experience teaching and tutoring math and physics and doing test preparation. He has taught at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, and Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Lithonia, Georgia.

Eduardo Canto, MD – Lead Faculty

Dr. Canto obtained a B.A. in Biochemistry and a M.D. degree from Harvard University and Harvard Medical School respectively.  He is a practicing clinician, basic science and clinical researcher, and a biotechnology entrepreneur. He has been involved in basic science research since 1994.

Abel Baerga, PhD – Lead Faculty

Abel Baerga obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego. He is Associate Professor at the UPR Medical Sciences Campus and an integral part of the Clinical Bioreagent Center: A consortium between the University of Puerto Rico and CDI Laboratories that is developing a prophylactic vaccine against HIV.

Mario Ortiz, PhD – Head Proctor, Faculty

Mario Ortiz, PhD completed a B.S. in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus and a PhD in Biochemistry at the the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.  He is an Assistant Professor in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Puerto Rico Humacao Campus and Investigator at the Auxilio BioLab, the translational science laboratory of the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital.