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Zaida C. Morales-Martinez and Howard E. Moore Chemistry Scholarship Recipients



Stephanie Castro Baldivieso

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

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

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.



Abigail Sundberg 

Abigail Sundberg is currently a junior working towards her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in Biology. She is a Presidential Scholarship recipient and a Dean’s List student. Before coming to FIU, she graduated high school with an Associate of Arts degree from Broward College.

Her passion for science and learning first started when her mother would show her different insects and plants that were in and around her garden. Abigail’s curiosity for the world around her was further nurtured by having access to many books at home and frequent trips to the library. Growing up, she was taught how important obtaining an education is to not only have access to a better career, but also for becoming a better person.

Abigail is a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry 1 and 2 and an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Sonia Underwood for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics education research. By being a part of the STEM Institutes’ push toward improving academic curriculum and diversifying teaching styles, Abigail hopes to make a positive impact on student learning and to inspire other students to reach their own academic and career goals, just as her parents have inspired her.

For the near future, Abigail is exploring two possible career paths that she is interested in taking. This summer she will be applying for Pharmacy school, as well as entry into a Chemistry Ph.D. program. Because many members of her family have been impacted by cancer and other debilitating diseases, she would like to help improve the health of others and help in educating the general population on health and medicine. No matter which direction Abigail chooses, she plans on making that path her own!


Natalie Smith 

Natalie Smith is a Dean’s List student completing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, as well as a student in the Honors College. Chemistry has always sparked Natalie’s interest, dating back to high school. After taking biochemistry classes, her love for understanding the human body’s mechanisms grew even more. At FIU, she had three pivotal experiences as an undergraduate student which have included her involvement in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, her research group, and the medical organization, Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity. With those experiences in hand, she hopes to continue her academic career in medical school and work toward becoming a dermatologist.

Over the course of her undergraduate career, Natalie’s involvement in extracurricular activities has grown. Starting as a member in 2014, Phi Delta Epsilon has played a crucial role in the development of her professional viewpoint, so much so that she is now serving as their President. This fraternity aims to create physicians of integrity with a foundation in philanthropy and education. Natalie has also volunteered at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Heartland Hospice, where she has cared for patients in their time of need. And she has volunteered her time with the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at monthly ‘STEM Saturday’ events where the aim is to educate underprivileged children on the importance of classes for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field.

At FIU, Natalie has worked as a teacher’s assistant, a tutor, and as a Learning Assistant for Dr. Lichter in the General Chemistry lab. Her encounters with students and faculty in chemistry have provided her an opportunity to advance her communication and overall problem-solving skills. Natalie become a Research Assistant in Dr. Lima’s Mass Spectrometry Lab where she is now working alongside a graduate student to analyze the size, mass, and charge of polychlorinated biphenyls, a specific endocrine disruptor, and how they may result in toxic effects to humans and wildlife. Natalie looks forward to furthering her knowledge and pursuits in the biochemical field and seeing how they will apply to her love for the medical field.


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Saskya Etienne

Saskya is currently a Chemistry major, with minors in Biological Sciences and Psychology (with a pre-medical track). She has been working as a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry I since the spring of 2015. She also worked as an academic mentor in Panther Life from spring 2014 to fall 2015. There she discovered an “inexplicable bond” she had with the students as well as a lifelong friendship with her assigned mentee, Krystal. Saskya is a member of the pre-medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon where she has found a research opportunity that will begin this summer, 2016. Academically, she has been part of the Dean's List every semester since she attended FIU in the fall of 2013 and a member of Pi Kappa Phi since fall 2015. In the fall 2014, she participated in the Academy of Leaders where we created a presentation about leadership and team-player skills. After graduation, she plans on starting medical school in 2017, where she will pursue her dreams of becoming a physician.

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Ikeoluwapo (Ike) Ibrahim

Ikeoluwapo (Ike) Ibrahim was born in Nigeria, raised in Canada and currently shuffles between Miami and Michigan. She is a junior majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Biology. Since 2015, she has worked as an undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Yuan Liu’s Oxidative DNA Damage and Repair Lab which focuses on Base Excision Repair mechanisms and their involvement in cancer and other diseases. She has been a General Chemistry Learning Assistant for Dr. Uma Swamy since spring 2014. Ike is involved in Phi Delta Epsilon, the premedical fraternity, and is a member of the Phi Delta Epsilon Premedical Fraternity, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key International Honors Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Honors College. From fall 2014 to spring 2015, Ike was the treasurer of TECHO-FIU. She hopes to pursue a medical and a doctorate degree in a biomedical related field. When she is not studying, she can be found relaxing with friends, watching television or reading a book.

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Dennise Montero

Dennise Montero is a senior currently pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Chemistry. Since 2013 she has continually remained on the Dean’s List. In 2015, she began working in Dr. Francisco Fernandez-Lima’s research group. Her main research focus is characterization and separation of poly-brominated diphenyl ether metabolites. Recently, she was honored by the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which she will start in the summer. She is also an active member of the Golden Key Honor Society. After graduation at FIU, Dennise plans on attending graduate school to pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry with a forensic track. Her goal is to one day work in either a state or federal forensic laboratory. Apart from academics, Dennise enjoys going to the beach and trying out new local restaurants.


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Jimmy Huang

Jimmy Huang is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He was a learning assistant for CHM 1046 during the 2013-2014 school year. During the 2014-2015 school year he has been working as a teaching assistant. Recently, Jimmy has started to do work in Dr. Moon’s research lab. Jimmy is currently doing research on organic synthesis of polymers that will ultimately be used for drug delivery. He also volunteers at Miami’s Childress Hospital in the pharmacy department of the hospital helping out the pharmacist and deliver medicine to patients. Jimmy is also currently working on getting his pharmacy tech license. After graduation he hopes to begin pharmacy school.

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Keenan Mintz 

Keenan Mintz is a senior majoring in chemistry at Florida International University. During the spring 2013 and fall 2013 semesters, he worked as a Learning Assistant for general chemistry classes. In the spring of 2014 he become a Teaching Assistant in a general chemistry lab. Keenan was also involved in the BBC Science Club. During the 2013-2014 school year he was elected to be the historian for the club. Some of his academic accomplishments include the Dean’s List in spring 2011, fall 2011, spring 2012, fall 2012, and fall 2013. Another achievement is that Keenan is part of the Golden Key Honor Society. In the summer and fall of 2014 he conducted research in a project geared toward the removal of Ochratoxin A from beverages. In his spare time Keenan also volunteers in a tutoring program in his community.

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Jocelyn Nardo

Jocelyn Nardo is currently pursuing a BS in chemistry, as well as a certification in Public & Professional Writing. She is a Cuban American from Pembroke Pines, Florida. After graduation Jocelyn plans to pursue either a Ph.D. or Ed.D which is an education doctorate in chemistry. She hopes to one day be an advocate in reforming the modern education system.

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Robert Joseph Wood

Robert Wood is from Miami, Florida and is currently a double major in Chemistry B.A. and Psychology at FIU. He has been a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry since Spring 2013 and a Teaching Assistant for General Chemistry labs since Fall 2013, working with to Dr. Uma Swamy, Dr. Palmer Graves and Dr. Joseph Lichter. He also currently helps Dr. Sandra Stojanovic as a weekly organic chemistry tutor for her class, as well as has served as a Learning Assistant for her Organic I class. Robert is currently a member of Dr. Joong Ho Moon’s research lab as an undergraduate research assistant working on synthetic organic chemistry of biodegradable conjugated fluorescent polymers for multiple uses.

Robert also works with various student organizations. Currently, he is an active member of the Chemistry club and serves as Outreach Coordinator. In this position he has developed a student led program, overseen by Dr. Moon and Dr. Swamy, called the University Experience Program (UEP). This program invites local high school chemistry classes to experience a day in as a chemistry student. The program launched in Spring 2015 and has hosted six high schools to date. He is also one of the leaders in forming a partnership with Medlife club in an effort to link medicine and chemistry as well as leading efforts for new philanthropic partnerships with underrepresented causes. Robert has also won a South Florida American Chemical Society (SOFLACS) travel award for the national meeting in Denver, Colorado to represent the ACS FIU student chapter.

Marco Eduardo Zamora Bulla's photo

Marco Eduardo Zamora Bulla

Marco Zamora is currently a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry I. He has been doing this now for the past four semesters alternating between General Chemistry I and II in the Fall and Spring terms respectively. He is also a member of Golden Key Honor Society, Honors College at FIU, and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. An active member of both the Chemistry Club and the Biomedical Engineering Society he hopes to take leadership roles in both organizations in the following year. Recently he traveled with the Chemistry Club to Denver, Colorado for the 249th ACS National Convention, where the Chemistry Club won the Commendable award. He also works in Dr. Yuan Liu’s Oxidative DNA Damage and Repair Lab which focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which Base Excision Repair, BER, works and how it factors to genetic or epigenetic stability as tantamount to understanding the creation and progression of cancer and other diseases. Upon graduation Marco hopes to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD in tissue engineering focused on regenerative medicine.


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Diane Edgar

Diane is the Secretary for Phi Delta Epsilon International Pre-Medical Fraternity and was their historian the preceding year. Next fall marks her second year of initiation and she has been a very active member. Diane is also a peer advisor at the Pre-Health Office, working closely with the FIU advisors. This year she participated in ARCH through the Honors College with Professor Stephen Winkle as her advisor. She worked in his lab for about a year to execute her project and recently presented her poster with the title "Probing the Effects of the Binding of Tetra Substituted Porphyrins to DNA on DNA Structure."

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Roboan Guillen

Roboan will be completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. During his years at FIU, he has been involved in several clubs including the FIU Chemistry Club, Florida Golden Key Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta Medical Honors Society. Roboan's experiences throughout his undergraduate years have proven that there are endless possibilities available in the chemistry field for contributing to our community. He is currently working in a biochemistry research lab to design a novel high throughput drug-screening assay.

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Shantell Rolle

Shantell was a Teaching Assistant for the General Chemistry I Lab (CHM 1045L) and was a Learning Assistant for CHM 1045 last semester. She performed as a chemistry teacher in the Upward Bound Math and Science program with the FIU Pre-Collegiate office in summer 2012 and 2013. For the past two years, she has had the honor of presenting research on the Brazilian Pepper at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meetings and is an ACS Chemistry Ambassador. She is a member and past secretary of the FIU-BBC Science Club. As a member of the Science Club, she helped plan, host and participate in many of their events such as National Chemistry Week demos, club fairs, workshops for high school AP Chemistry students, AP Chemistry Teacher Workshops, coastal clean-up days, community outreach programs like 'Nano-Einsteins,' and a Community Science Fair.

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Jose Roque

During the summer of his freshman year, Jose was a Chempal Proctor for General Chemistry 1 and then General Chemistry 2. The same year he joined the Chemistry Club and the Pre-Pharmacy Club. During his sophomore year he became a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry 1 and then General Chemistry 2. He has participated in the Heart Walk with the Chemistry Club and attended their meetings. Jose received recognition for excellence in Organic Chemistry at the SoFlacs event. Last fall semester, he taught the CHM1032L Lab, tutored for Organic Chemistry 1, and became a Learning Assistant for Organic Chemistry 1. He recently became CPR certified and got his Pharmacy Technician license, and he volunteers at a local hospital. At this time, he is tutoring Organic Chemistry 2, teaching CHM1032L lab and is a Learning Assistant for Organic Chemistry 2.