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
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
“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
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.