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Crystal Archer: Science Is A Great Place To Find Diversity

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Author: Ben Enslow | Category: Meet The Researcher | Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry(MBB) | Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry | January 04, 2016

Crystal Archer is a biochemistry graduate student whose passion for science began at an early age. 

She was raised within two cultures: Native American culture, as provided by her mother's family and her community's proximity to the Cherokee nation, and her father's European roots whose history is rich in members who were dedicated to the idea of betterment through education. 

This fortunate blending of cultures instilled within Archer a great curiosity and reverence for nature and for health. 

Today, her curiosity is still manifest as she passionately explores the biomedical sciences.

“Whenever I got sick as a child, I would be given a tea or salve made from plants in the garden, or be put on a special diet, instead of pills. I became fascinated by the power of medicinal plants, which is probably why I like to study biochemistry and biophysics.”

Archer is a winner of the 2016 Committee for Inclusion and Diversity Travel Awards. She will be honored at a reception during the Biophysical Society’s 60th Annual Meeting on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles.

The awards are intended to encourage participation at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting by students and postdoctoral fellows underrepresented in the biomedical sciences currently studying biophysics.

“Science is one of the great places to find diversity in terms of international cultures,” she said. “It is exciting to work in a place where I’m surrounded by researchers from all over the world. I believe that having diversity in the laboratory makes for better, more impactful science. That being said, there are very few Native Americans in science.”

According to the NSF National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 8 out of 8,991 doctoral degrees were awarded to Native Americans in biomedical sciences in 2014.

Archer believes that attending scientific conferences is important for expanding and building connections.

“I feel that collaboration is essential for solving real-world problems in a meaningful way, and diversity in our collaborations provides a spectrum of perspectives that leads to more well-rounded interpretations of our results. I am grateful for opportunities like the CID Travel Award, which allows me to honor my different cultural backgrounds while strengthening my professional research experience.”

This article is part of the "Meet The Researcher" series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. 

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