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Cell Biology Ph.D. Student, Adviser Receive 2021 HHMI Gilliam Fellowship

Maria Pia Rodriguez Salazar and Cagla Eroglu

Maria Pia Rodriguez Salazar, a Ph.D. student in cell biology, and her adviser Cagla Eroglu have been awarded a Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The fellowship provides financial support for up to three years of dissertation research. Rodriguez Salazar will also be invited to present her research at the Gilliam annual meeting and HHMI science meetings. As her adviser, Eroglu will participate in yearlong training on culturally responsive mentorship, develop an implementation plan to disseminate mentor training, and receive an allowance for diversity and inclusion efforts at the graduate level.

Rodriguez Salazar is investigating the roles of astrocyte mitochondrial dynamics in brain development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating from UNC, she worked at the Regenerative Medicine Lab at United Therapeutics, where she was one of the lead researchers in the development of a patented stem-cell based therapy to treat chronic lung disease. As a Duke Ph.D. student, she received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans in 2020.

The Gilliam Fellowships aim to prepare students from groups historically excluded from and underrepresented in science to assume leadership roles in science and science education, and to build a healthier, more inclusive academic scientific ecosystem. Rodriguez Salazar and Eroglu were among 50 student-adviser pairs selected for the fellowship this year.