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Department ofChemistry and Biochemistry


Elena Zavala, Class of 2010

Congratulations to Elena Zavala (2010) who wrote in March 2017 to tell us that:  “This May I will be finishing my Masters at Penn State and would be happy to send you a copy of my final paper when it's complete. My time at Penn State has been very formative and has made me thankful for the education I received at Santa Clara as I learned about others undergraduate experiences. My research here has been focused on evaluating extraction methods of DNA from human skeletal material as well as sensitivity testing of Next Gen sequencing kits for highly fragmented DNA. Through this project I was award the Northeastern Association of Forensic Sciences annual research grant (the Carol DeForest grant) and received funding to go to Croatia last summer to collect samples and meet with anthropologists there, as well as visit Sarajevo to meet with the DNA analysis team at the International Commission on Missing Persons to discuss the applications of my research. As you can imagine, this has been a dream come true. I have greatly enjoyed being able to apply my base knowledge in biochemistry to method development. In order to continue along this way of study I will be attending the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig for my PhD and working with Matthias Meyer and Svante Paabo on method development for ancient remains. I cannot thank you enough for the support you gave me during and after my time at Santa Clara, I would not be where I am today without it.”