Stem Cell PhD student Alma Zuniga Munoz wins USC’s first Gilliam Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Photo of Alma Zuniga Munoz and Albert Almada
Alma Zuniga Munoz and Albert Almada (Photo / Cristy Lytal)

Alma Zuniga Munoz, a student in USC’s PhD program in Development, Stem Cells, and Regeneration, is used to being the first. She’s a first-generation American, the first member of her extended family to continue her education beyond high school, and the first USC PhD student to win a coveted Gilliam Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

The fellowships are awarded to graduate students and their PhD advisers, with the goals of preparing students from underrepresented groups for leadership roles in science, while partnering with faculty and institutions to foster a healthier, more inclusive academic ecosystem.

“It’s a privilege to be the first one to do these things, even though it’s a lot of pressure,” said Zuniga Munoz, who was awarded the fellowship in partnership with her PhD adviser Albert Almada, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and gerontology, and the chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee for the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at USC.

Read more about Alma’s story