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This year the School of Integrated Science and Humanity (SISH) awarded eight scholarships to students who excelled in one of the following areas: Astronomy, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics and Women’s Studies.

On May 3rd, families, faculty members and friends of SISH attended the 2018 SISH Scholarship Awards Ceremony to celebrate the student recipients and their accomplishments.

Throughout the years, we have the best and brightest students earn our top scholarships and this year was no different. Congratulations to the 2018 SISH Scholarship awardees!


Stephanie Castro Baldivieso – Zaida C. Morales-Martínez & Howard E. Moore Scholarship

Stephanie Castro Baldivieso, inspired by her mother, a chemical engineer, knew when she came to FIU from Caracas, Venezuela, that she wished to study chemistry. Stephanie’s passion for excellence is evident. She went to Costa Rica as a volunteer to measure pH levels of rivers and ecosystems to assist in the protection of endangered sea turtles. She was a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry as well as for Calculus I and is now an undergraduate research assistant working with Dr. Christopher Dares. For summer 2018, she will be an intern at the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier nuclear energy and science technology labs. Upon graduation, Stephanie hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry or Materials Engineering.


Sigal Dahan – Zaida C. Morales-Martínez & Howard E. Moore Scholarship

Sigal Dahan is working towards bachelor degrees in both Chemistry and Biological Sciences. She spent the summer of 2016 working in a science lab in Tel Aviv where she conducted research on epigenetics. In 2017, Sigal began working with Dr. Stephen Winkle on research to investigate the ways that drugs bind to DNA using different restriction enzymes. This research resulted in an article that includes Sigal as one of the paper’s authors. As her first published work, it has inspired her to continue doing research in the field of chemistry. Sigal also volunteers to teach middle school students about biology and chemistry in the hopes that they find an appreciation for science, as she has herself. After graduation, Sigal hopes to attend dental school.



Juan Perez – Zaida C. Morales-Martínez & Howard E. Moore Scholarship

Juan Perez is a student in the FIU Honors College and the School of Integrated Science and Humanity. He works as a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry, an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Yuan Liu’s biochemistry lab, and with chemistry professor Uma Swamy. In Dr. Liu’s lab, Juan works on understanding the role of base excision repair (BER) on R-loops in modulating trinucleotide repeat instability and assisting in the purification of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). He has been a PLTL (Peer-Led Team Learning) Biology Leader for General Biology I & II, a weekly organic chemistry tutor for Dr. Sandra Stojanovic, a Chempal preceptor for Uma Swamy and is currently president of the medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. After graduation, Juan hopes to begin medical school.


Aitor Bracho – The Fred Hoover Memorial Scholarship

Aitor Bracho has a deep intellectual curiosity. He reaches for the things that challenge him in order to accomplish as much as he can. Along the way, he has learned that discipline is required, whether it is in becoming an ‘A’ student at FIU or a practicing mixed martial artist. Aitor discovered that when goals are difficult to achieve, they can still be accomplished through practice, dedication and effort. He has applied these principles to his love of sports, as well as to tackling demanding classes in physics, math and science. With this scholarship, Aitor will be able to continue his pursuit of a doctorate in physics, while remaining strong and healthy. Understanding how the universe around us works is Aitor’s dream come true.



Antonio Martinez Margolles- The Fred Hoover Memorial Scholarship

Antonio Martinez was first introduced to – as he would say – “the beauty and simplicity of physics” as a child, thanks to the unique fact that his father was also a physicist. Throughout high school, math and science were his favorite subjects, and he was intrigued by how things worked in chemistry and biology. At first, he actually wasn’t sure about this thing called physics. What do physicists do? And why did they do it? So he started asking his professors questions – a lot of questions. Eventually, through his research on nanobiotechnology, he came to understand the importance of physics to the world and what it meant to him personally. In fact, he became so interested in physics that he now plans to pursue a graduate degree in the field.


Sandy Alonso – The Southern Cross Astronomical Society Scholarship 

Sandy Alonso followed his intuition to become a Physics major even though he had never taken a physics course. Originally, he decided to register for Observational Astronomy with no prior knowledge of the subject – just an interest. Sandy’s passion for physics and astronomy caught the attention of Dr. James Webb who encouraged him to join the Messier Project during the summer. He is currently one of the few students who work with the Stocker AstroScience Center and he enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge of the celestial bodies with his fellow peers. Sandy hopes to continue his studies and gain further experience in the field of astronomy.



Alyssa Pepio – Elaine Gordon Scholarship in Women’s Studies 

Alyssa Pepio, a Women’s and Gender Studies major, has set herself apart from her peers by applying her studies to empowering others. Even before entering FIU as an undergraduate, Alyssa demonstrated her exceptional commitment to activism as a board member of GLSEN, a leading educational organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools, and as a team leader with City Year Orlando. Since arriving at FIU, Alyssa has served as an Ambassador for the LGBTQ Association, an LGBTQ facilitator, and president of the Southern Poverty Law Center at FIU. She is president of the Student Alliance Fighting Exploitation and cofounded the HEART Initiative that provides training and resources to educators and healthcare providers on the identification and support of human trafficking survivors.


Saad Siddiqui – The Leonard S. Keller Memorial Scholarship 

Saad Siddiqui has demonstrated a unique level of academic excellence. With the support of his parents, Saad attended the School of Advanced Studies, graduating in the top 5% of his class, then received his Associate of Arts in Mechanical Engineering from Miami-Dade College in the top 10% of his class. His academic career at FIU is no different. Saad holds a 4.0 GPA, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the Science Club, and a peer-health advisor for the Office of Pre-Health Advising. This scholarship recognizes him for his achievements in organic chemistry. Saad also enjoys helping others to achieve success by working as a tutor and advisor to new students. He hopes to continue his education in chemistry and pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.


Jenna Silva and Katherine Rego contributed to this story.