Jun 11, 2015
Crystal Valdez
Newly minted PhD Crystal Valdez was chosen to be one of two student processional marshals for the doctoral hooding ceremony on Thursday, June 11.  The processional marshals accompany the provosts, deans, and faculty into Royce Hall.
 
“I am honored to be nominated to serve as a Student Processional Marshal for this years ceremony." said Dr. Valdez. "I am very excited to be part of such an exciting occasion!  My years in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in Professor Anastassia Alexandrova’s lab have been a wonderful and enriching experience."
 
Dr. Crystal Valdez served as a student processional marshall for the doctoral hooding ceremony.
 
Dr. Valdez was nominated for the honor by Prof. Alexandrova. "Crystal has shown a tremendous dedication to research and an exemplary citizenship at the group, department, state of California, national, and even international levels." said Prof. Alexandrova. "She’s hit a trajectory that takes her beyond anybody’s dreams and expectations. She is graduating with several great publications, including two cover articles, a long list of awards, including a very prestigious Lindau Award and NSF predoctoral grant, many invited talks, and a dossier of outreach activities. Crystal’s most important qualities are intelligence, focus, courage, and cheerful attitude. My colleagues make a point to come and tell me: what a joy to talk to her! She has all the attributes to be very successful in her chosen field of computational biochemistry, and be an inspiring member of the community.”  
 
Dr. Crystal Valdez and her advisor Professor Anastassia Alexandrova  Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
 
From the time she was a young girl, Dr. Valdez was fascinated by science. "When I first learned we are composed of cells and that cells are composed of molecules and atoms, I was amazed and wanted to understand how it all works," the chemistry graduate student recalled. She went on to receive her B.S. in biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2009. During her time at Cal Poly, Dr. Valdez participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (sponsored by NSF), at the University of Oregon, under the tutelage of Prof. Marina Guenza, which led her to computational chemistry research. That passion ultimately led her to the laboratory of Prof. Alexandrova where Dr. Valdez has earned a reputation for her research on the design and function of enzymes. She has been an exemplary graduate student and has participated in various departmental initiatives, including participating in the 63rd Nobel Laureate meeting in Lindau in 2013 and a trip to Sacramento this year to highlight the value of graduate research for UC President Napolitano.