The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that graduating chemistry major Cristina Valentina Craescu has been selected as the 2021 departmental commencement marshal.
Student marshals play an integral role in commencement ceremonies; they represent their college or department and lead their fellow graduates in the procession to enter the commencement hall. The title of student marshal is one of the highest honors an undergraduate student can earn at Penn State. Craescu was selected for this important role in recognition of her exemplary academic record and her contributions to the chemistry community at Penn State.
Craescu’s studies began at Penn State Abington, where she conducted research under the mentorship of Professor Ahmed Nuriye.
After transferring to University Park, she joined the Sen group, led by Verne M. Willaman Professor of Chemistry Ayusman Sen. During her time with the Sen lab, Craescu’s research was based on the concept that upon catalysis, enzymes exhibit increased diffusion coefficients and directed motion towards higher concentrations of the substrate. In order to understand this phenomenon and its applicability, her project focused on finding the correlations between the lipid composition, reactant concentration, and enzyme’s mobility.
Craescu is currently a member of the Elacqua group, led by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Beth Elacqua. Her work focuses on designing organic polymer-based catalysts in order to promote small-molecule transformations under confinement. Her goal is to use the adaptability and modularity of the polymer framework to interrogate selectivity, control, and rates of select organic reactions.
Outside of the lab, she served as a learning assistant for CHEM 227, a teaching assistant for CHEM 452, and a learning assistant for CHEM 212.
Craescu has also been awarded the Evan Pugh Scholar Senior Award, The John and Elizabeth Holmes Teas Scholarship, Peter Gold Memorial Award, Erickson Discovery Grant, Student Engagement Network Grant, and President’s Freshman Award in support of her scholarship.
"Cristina’s selection as department marshal is a testament to the impact she’s had on the PSU UP chemistry community in a short time," notes Assistant Professor of Chemistry Beth Elacqua. "While the pandemic has made her graduation a more bittersweet experience, I'm excited to see her continue to enhance her academic, service, and research portfolio at UC Berkeley, while taking all the steps toward a career in academia!"
Head of the Department of Chemistry Philip Bevilacqua adds, “we are pleased to see that Cristina has been named the department’s commencement marshal. Her research and academic accomplishments are outstanding and we wish her the very best at UC Berkeley!”
After graduation, Craescu plans to attend the University of California, Berkeley for graduate school.