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Associate Research Professor

Radamés J.B. Cordero, PhD, MS, studies how melanin protects against hazardous radiation and thermal stress.

Contact Info

Research Interests

fungal melanin; polysaccharide capsule; microbial pathogenesis; Cryptococcus; radioprotection; energy budgets; thermal biology; infrared imaging; color-mediated thermoregulation; thermography; infrared camera; energy transduction; heat; temperature; solar; radiation shielding; energy storage; photovoltaics; scholarly communication practices; fungal hypothermia

Experiences & Accomplishments
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein School of Medicine
University of Puerto Rico - Arecibo

Dr. Cordero is an academic entrepreneur who is dedicated to addressing pressing global challenges through science, education, and public service. His research revolves around understanding the radioprotective and thermal properties of melanin, particularly in fungal model systems, using innovative biophysical techniques. His work sheds light on how melanin safeguards against radiation energy and its implications for heat capture and the distribution of organisms across different latitudes. Furthermore, he actively engages in public service by participating in forums and communication events to promote scientific understanding and inclusivity in STEM fields, particularly among underrepresented minorities. Through his laboratory training practice and the development of graduate-level coursework, he fosters the growth of aspiring scientists while emphasizing the importance of commercialization potential and innovation in academia. Driven by a passion for co-creation and curiosity-driven research, Dr. Cordero strives to make high-impact contributions to society while advocating for science communication and empowering individuals from all backgrounds in their scientific pursuits.

Honors & Awards

2024 Gilbert Otto Endowed Professor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

2021 Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer Award, DoD-Army, USA
2021 JHU COVID-19 Bridge Grant, Vice Provost for Research, JHU
2021 Delta Omega Honor Society-Alpha Chapter, JHBSPH
2020 NASA Center Innovation Fund, OH, USA
2020 Institutional Program for Internationalization Award, CAPES, Brazil
2019 Small Business Technology Transfer, Department of Defense
2018 Seed Grant Technology Accelerator, JHU Bloomberg, Baltimore, MD
2017 Center for AIDS Research Award for Faculty Development, JHU, Baltimore, MD
2016 Biomedical Scholar Association Milestone for Academic Excellence, JHU
2012-14 Young Talent Attraction Award, Science without Borders, CnPq/CAPES, Brazil
2008 Honors in Master of Science Degree (Class 2012), Einstein, USA
2005 UPR President Award for Highest GPA in Microbiology, UPRA Graduation, PR

Select Publications

Dr. Cordero's research explores the fascinating role and properties of melanin in fungi. Melanins are ancient pigments found in various organisms, including fungi, and were previously known for their involvement in causing diseases. However, Dr. Cordero's work goes beyond that and reveals additional functions of melanin. His studies show that melanin protects fungal microorganisms during spaceflight, making them more resilient and increasing their chances of survival. Melanin also helps fungi regulate their temperature, allowing them to capture heat from electromagnetic radiation. These findings have implications for understanding fungal biology, ecology, and even potential applications in space travel. In his most recent investigations, Dr. Cordero discovered that yeasts, molds, and mushrooms maintain hypothermic states through evaporative cooling, making them colder than their surroundings. He further explores the potential applications of fungal evaporative cooling for passive indoor air conditioning. Overall, Dr. Cordero's publications highlight the diverse functions and physicochemical properties of fungal melanin, opening new avenues of research in understanding its roles in fungal biology, ecology, and the potential applications of fungal-based biotechnologies in space travel.

  • The hypothermic nature of fungi. Cordero RJB, Mattoon ER, Ramos Z, Casadevall A. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 120 (19), p. e2221996120. May 2, 2023 [link to article]

  • Simões MF, Cortesão M, Azua-Bustos A, Bai FY, Canini F, Casadevall A, Cassaro A, Cordero RJB, et. al. The relevance of fungi in astrobiology research – Astromycology. Mycosphere. Aug 7, 2023. [link to article]

  • Melanin protects Cryptococcus neoformans from spaceflight effects. Cordero RJB, Dragotakes Q, Friello PJ, Casadevall A. Environmental Microbiology. July 19, 2022. [link to article]

  • Impact of Yeast Pigmentation on Heat Capture and Latitudinal Distribution. Cordero RJB, Robert V, Cardinali G, Arinze ES, Thon SM, Casadevall A. Current Biology. 2018 Aug 20;28(16):2657-2664. [link to article]

  • Melanin for space travel radioprotection. Cordero RJB. Environmental Microbiology. 2017 Jul;19(7):2529-2532. [link to article]

  • Functions of fungal melanin beyond virulence Cordero RJB and Casadevall A. Fungal Biology Reviews. Volume 31, Issue 2, March 2017, Pages 99-112. [link to article]

Thermal biology of fungi
Structure and Functions of Fungal Melanins
Structure and Function of the Cryptococcal Capsule