Obituary - Estela M. Roque Infante (1964 – 1999)

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Estela M. Roque Infante (1964 - 1999)

ACA RefleXions, Spring 2005

In December, 1994 an Advanced Course on Single Crystal Diffraction was organized in our laboratory. Herb Hauptman, I. David Brown, Chuck Strouse, and Bill Duax came as invited speakers. With this photo Bill captured the moment when Estela was introduced to Herb and Edith Hauptman by Graciela Díaz de Delgado. The young man, Hector Novoa de Armas, from Cuba, was a visitor in the lab at the time.


Along with our ACA dues for 2005, we added a small contribution in the memory of Estela Roque Infante. Estela was a young physicist from Cuba who came to our laboratory with the hope of carrying out graduate studies in our Chemistry Department. From the beginning, she demonstrated a unique ability to carry out quality work in crystallography. Estelita (as all of us called her) besides being an excellent student and researcher, was an accomplished pianist. She graduated in piano performance and teaching in La Habana but decided to study physics.

In 1987, after graduating from Universidad de Oriente in Santiago de Cuba, she started work as an Instructor in the Physics Department. With strong encouragement from her parents, family, friends, and professors (in particular from Prof. Oscar Au-Alvarez) she came to the Universidad de Los Andes, La Hechicera, Mérida, Venezuela in September of 1994 to carry out graduate studies. She had to leave her four-year old son with her parents. At the end of 1996 she obtained a M.Sc. Degree in Chemistry. Her thesis included the structural characterization of several semiconducting compounds using single crystal and powder diffraction techniques. She went back to Cuba for a short period of time and then was granted permission to continue her studies in a Ph.D. degree program. Since she wanted to get experience in other types of materials, she started to work on organic and metal-organic compounds. Estela undertook this new challenge with her characteristic enthusiasm. She completed the courses required for the Ph.D. degree and made great progress in her thesis. Unfortunately, she did not know she was suffering from Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM according to the NIH-Rare diseases office). Estelita died on Labor Day, May 1, 1999, perhaps the first case of LAM seen in Mérida. She was cared for by our coworkers Rafael, Nexzy, Oleida, Asiloé, Belkis, Teresa, Alex, Jines, Auribel, Gerzon, and by many friends from our lab and our Department. It was a great loss for all of us. Estela was a hard working, very promising crystallographer who always thought she would go back to Cuba to help strengthen crystallography in her country and in Latin America. We encourage ACA members to contribute in the memory of Estela Roque Infante and/or to the ACA Latin American initiative.

Graciela Díaz de Delgado and Miguel Delgado