Hendra Sihaloho 

When Hendra Sihaloho left for Wilmington, North Carolina from his home in Indonesia, his wife had recently given birth to their first daughter. With a newborn just 10 days old, Sihaloho packed up and left his family and his job at the LIPI Research Center for Oceanography in Jakarta, Indonesia to obtain his Ph.D. in marine biology. 

Though leaving home to go abroad after his daughter’s birth may have been hard, Sihaloho is no stranger to international travel and studying at foreign universities. After receiving his bachelor degree in fisheries from Bogor Agricultural University in 2006 in Bogor, Indonesia, he began his job at LIPI. In 2011, Sihaloho was awarded a VLIR-UOS scholarship from Flemish Inter University Council, a Belgian organization that seeks to create global university partnerships to find solutions to social challenges through education and research. With this scholarship, Sihaloho got his master’s degree in marine and lacustrine science and management, an inter-university program organized by three international academic institutions: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Antwerp and Ghent University. 

It was the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship that afforded Sihaloho the opportunity to go abroad again for his education. According to Sihaloho, many Indonesian students apply for Fulbright Scholarships, and he assumed his chances of acceptance were low. To his surprise, he secured the scholarship and began his first of four years at UNCW. 

Sihaloho enjoys working in the Integrated Molecular Ecology of Sponges and Ascidians (iMESA) lab within the Center for Marine Science because, he says, the facilities are more state-of-the art, allowing him to better do his work and focus on his studies. In his spare time, Sihaloho spends much of his time on Skype connecting with his wife and daughter. He is grateful for the UNCW faculty who have helped him on his journey. 

“All the UNCW staff I have met for study or administrative matters have helped me so much,” said Sihaloho. “My supervisors, assistant biology and marine biology professors, Susanna Lopez-Legentil and Patrick Erwin, are helping me to adapt to the lab work and this new, unfamiliar environment.” 

-- Caitlin Taylor