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Always focused
Former RHHS student making a mark in research
Patrick Sisco

Patrick Sisco was salutatorian of Richmond Hill High School's Class of 2000. He hasn't slowed down since.

"He’s always been focused," said his mother, Debbie Sisco. "Even in grade school he was always a straight A student. His friends would come and go while he preferred to delve into his school work."

Sisco has continued to delve into academics.

He's made discoveries in the world of chemistry and has worked on major projects as a research scientist at the University of South Carolina, according to the chemistry digest Nano Letters.

In addition to participating in researching a cure for Alzheimer’s, Sisco has gained attention for his thesis project which entails some revolutionary research in the world of nanotechnology. His discoveries could lead to the ability for man-made cells to replace damaged ones in the body, according to Nano Letters.

Some of the potential applications of this research could be improving heart function after a heart attack by implanting new tissue over the damaged area or tagging diseased cells to track changes over time.

He is working on his PhD in the field of inorganic chemistry with a focus on nanomaterials. For this thesis work, Sisco has already received some acclaim. This includes having his work published in a cover story in the chemistry digest Nano Letters which pronounced his project as the first to use nanomaterials to study mechanics in a cell environment.

Sisco is undergoing his research projects with several partners at USC. Before attending the university, he had a stint at Armstrong where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in chemistry.

"Patrick Sisco was one of the most outstanding students to graduate from Richmond Hill High School," said RHHS Principal Charles Spann. "He took the teachings of his home, church and school to heart and used those teachings to define himself and his purpose in life. He was quiet, well-disciplined and always a pleasure to be around."

He excelled in the advanced science classes at RHHS and was a key player in the school’s successful run in the Science Olympiad. Patrick points out RHHS teacher Joey Trayack, who taught him chemistry and physics, as an early influence.

"He was a very hard working and conscientious student," said Trayack. "And very meticulous, to the point of being a perfectionist and somewhat competitive. A 95 on a test was like failure to him. He really set himself apart from his peers. It looks like his hard work is beginning to pay off, and I’m really proud of him."

At RHHS, he was also a member of the marching band where he played baritone saxophone. In his middle school years, he played rec basketball, football and baseball. The band director at Armstrong tried to convince Patrick to participate in his program, but he chose instead to focus all his attention on his studies, which at that point were on another level.

While at Armstrong, he fine-tuned his career and study goals. He was torn between becoming a doctor or a research scientist. To figure it out, he interned three summers in hospitals for radiology while also doing undergraduate research work at the college.

"I enjoyed doing the research much more," said Patrick. "I like being in the lab. It’s challenging and fun."

"When he’s doing research, he’s in his element," said Debbie. "He lives, sleeps and breathes chemistry."

"I have been curious about chemistry as far back as I can remember," said Patrick. "When I was a kid, my grandfather would bring me test tubes from where he worked and I would mix random things from around the house. My mom would find them hidden in drawers."

Patrick wants to eventually become a research scientist for a government entity.

"I think it’s great that he’s achieved all that he has," said Debbie. "When he was in grade school, I wouldn’t have dreamed he’d be to the point he is now. I can’t say I’m surprised though, as dedicated as he was. If he wants to do something, the persistence is there."

"It’s inspiring how much he has accomplished thus far because he really has just gotten started," Debbie added. "I can’t imagine what he’ll do once he exits college and begins his career. There’s no end to what he might end up doing, and I expect his work to be felt on a global level. And that’s pretty neat seeing how it all got started here in the small town of Richmond Hill."


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