Two From Duke Named Soros Fellows

Fellowship for immigrants supports graduate studies`

Part of the Spring 2020 Awards and Honors Series
Maria Pia Rodriguez Salazar; Mohamed Ismail
Maria Pia Rodriguez Salazar; Mohamed Ismail

Two members of the Duke community have been named to the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The fellowships, for immigrants and children of immigrants, honors the contributions of continuing generations of immigrants and refugees to the United States and provide up to $90,000 in financial support for graduate education over two years.

Maria Pia Rodriguez Salazar, is a graduate student in Cagla Eroglu’s cell biology laboratory, investigating astrocyte mitochondrial metabolism in brain development. She was born in La Paz, Bolivia to Peruvian parents who then emigrated to the U.S. when she was ten. Having received DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Pia was able to pursue a career as a scientist by joining the Regenerative Medicine Lab at United Therapeutics after graduating from UNC with a Biology BA in 2014. She was one of the lead researchers to develop a stem-cell based therapy currently in phase one clinical trials to treat chronic lung disease.

Mohamed Ismail is a 2013 BS alumnus of civil and environmental engineering and a Ph.D. candidate in building technology at MIT. He was born to Sudanese parents in the United States, and then moved to the Philippines when he was eight. At Duke, Mohamed participated in Engineers without Borders and Duke Engineers for International Development. As a member of the Environmental Alliance, he helped organize and run the Duke Recycles free store, where people could give away unneeded things rather than throwing them away

The Soros fellowship, announced April 14, was awarded to 30 New Americans out of an application pool of more than 2,200.