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Krystal Vasquez
California Institute of Technology
MC 131-24
1200 E. California Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91125


I am a PhD candidate in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in chemistry with a focus on environmental science. At Caltech, my research focuses on studying gas-phase reactions that occur in the atmosphere, with a particular interest in the interactions between anthropogenic pollution (e.g. NOx) and biogenic emissions (e.g. isoprene). As a member of Dr. Paul Wennberg’s group, my current research focuses on the development of a GC chemical ionization mass spectrometer capable of observing in situ isomer distributions of isoprene oxidation products and other oxygenated volatile organic compounds.  Deployments of this instrument in the field will allow us to better understand both the kinetics and relative importance of various atmospheric oxidative pathways, providing insight into their influence on the global air quality; namely in their relation to climate change and important air pollutants.

Alongside my scientific research, I am also interested in advocating for the advancement of underrepresented groups in science & engineering fields. As a first-generation minority woman, I am aware of the hardships these demographic faces while navigating through the academic realm. As such, I currently run Caffeinated Confidence, a blog that advises students on the best ways to triumph as a STEM major in college, how to become a competitive grad school applicant and how to navigate the grad student life. In addition, I also hold leadership roles in several organizations on campus including the Chemistry Graduate Studies Committee (CGSC) and the Science and Engineering Policy at Caltech (SEPAC) group.