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Zaida Morales-Martinez was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico in 1957. After she completed her M.S. in Analytical Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University in 1962, she returned to the University of Puerto Rico as an assistant professor. She became an instructor of Chemistry at Florida State University in 1967, and joined FIU in 1973.

In 1982 she was officially recognized as the Coordinator of Chemistry Laboratories, a task she had been performing since her arrival at FIU. During her years here, FIU grew tremendously — from a two-year, upper level school to a full-service university with a growing mission in education. While there were many changes and new faces in the department, one constant in the halls of chemistry was Zaida — always there encouraging students to do their best. From 1994 until she retired in 2003, Morales Martinez served as Coordinator of Premedical Advising and Science Recruitment and Retention. In 2003 Morales-Martinez was named Emeritus Professor of Chemistry. At FIU she has been recognized with numerous awards including Excellence in Teaching, Service, and Advising and University’s prestigious FIU Medallion.

Throughout her career she has exemplified what a mentor should be and as such, she coordinated the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED Program for South Florida. In 1999 she became mentoring consultant for the ACS Scholars Program. Her overall mentoring efforts were recognized in 2004 by the American Chemical Society with a prestigious national award “for encouraging disadvantaged students into careers in the chemical sciences.” Zaida was again recognized for her contributions to the chemical profession with the National Award for Service to the ACS. A new ACS award for mentoring has been established in her honor — The Zaida Morales-Martinez ACS Scholars Mentor Award,” which is presented annually to someone who does an outstanding job mentoring ACS scholars.

In 2011 she was selected as the recipient of the 2011 American Chemical Society (ACS) National Award for Volunteer Service to the Society. Zaida has been role model to many faculty members for 60 years. The importance of insisting on the best from each student, the art of getting to know each student well, and the dedication to her profession makes Zaida and a fine role model to each one of us and every chemistry student that was blessed to be able to take Analytical Chemistry from Zaida Morales Martinez.

She continues to serve and this year has been named the 2017 Recipient of the ACS Stanley C. Israel Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences. This award recognizes individuals and/or institutions that have advanced diversity in the chemical sciences and have significantly fostered activities that promote inclusiveness within the region. The award will be presented at the 2017 Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, which will be held in Charlotte North Carolina on November 7 – 11,

This is a well-deserved honor. Congratulations Zaida!