Manuel oversees the academic support and outreach for schools and hospitals served by the Holman Biotech Commons. At the same time, he supports data and innovation services, liaising with research communities, forging and strengthening relationships with research cores and other campus partners, and spearheading new and innovative services. He also supervises the manager of the Biotech Commons Makerspace and the Library’s Visualizationist.
Tell us about your position in Penn Libraries
I just recently became the Interim Director of the Holman Biotech Commons. I oversee the operations and personnel at this library space. At Holman, I am the point person for training and consultations on data visualization, research identifiers (like ORCiD), and NIH Public Access compliance. I also coordinate all the impact research reports Holman produces –bibliometrics and altmetrics data we prepare for stakeholders interested in the impact of Penn’s research publications.
What brought you to librarianship and bibliometrics?
My previous career was a scientist, first in optics and physics, and later neuroscience –as a postdoc. During the latter, I realized I was more interested in supporting research that doing it myself: It turned out that academic librarianship offered me doing just that! As for bibliometrics –quantitative methods to analyze the academic literature– it all started with a request by a department chairperson at my first library job, who wanted to benchmark the scientific productivity of his department versus other departments he and his colleagues aspired to become like. From there on, I realized there was a lot of interest in bibliometrics reports, mainly from administrators.
Tell us about your experience in higher education as a Hispanic individual?
I have been privileged to develop my career in academic environments where I have felt valued and recognized. I have felt at ease sharing my culture and heritage and being heard. Sadly, I know that’s not the experience many other Hispanics experience in other educational settings though I think this situation is improving.
Why do you think it is so important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic and Latinos are the second largest racial and ethnic group in the US, yet the population at large misunderstands many aspects of our culture. I think Heritage Months are one visible way to create awareness of the largest groups in this country –other than whites. Learning about and from all the cultures that surround us enriches our lives and helps reduce the tribalism that fuels disconnection in our nation.
What are you most excited about for the future of Holman Biotech Commons?
We, as a species, face many great challenges that the Penn community is tackling fiercely through research, teaching, learning, advocacy, and clinical care. My hope is that here at Holman we can make meaningful contributions, large and small, in support of our community as they work on these endeavors.