Join us in welcoming Cecilia Zurita-Lopez, Ph.D. to Schmid College as an assistant professor of biochemistry. We asked Dr. Zurita-Lopez a few questions to get to know her and her research!


Q&A with Cecilia Zurita-Lopez:

What is your current area of research and how did you become passionate about this area?

In graduate school, I contributed to the understanding of enzymes that add modifications to proteins called protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs). I was able to find novel members of this family in both mammalian and lower organisms. I’m now very interested in understanding what this modification (methylation) does in the context of other modifications such as phosphorylation. My work falls under the broader category of posttranslational modifications (PTMs) and epigenetics. Understanding the rules for these modifications (when they happen, why they happen) is important for understanding proper cellular function.


What’s your favorite thing about being a professor?

I take great pride and pleasure in helping students learn and grow both academically (so that they can be successful in class and at Chapman) and professionally (so that they can be successful in their careers). I think what I like most is watching students become excited about biochemistry. It’s a wonderful thing when you see someone begin to appreciate what they are learning and seek further understanding.


Schmid College believes that the best science happens when diverse individuals are supported, included and empowered to share their voices as a part of scientific discovery. Please share with us what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why they’re important.

I’m grateful for DEI initiatives because they are a constant reminder that we must stay focused if we really want to help diverse populations of students in higher education and particularly in STEM. I think of DEI work like being on a diet. In a perfect world, we would not have gross underrepresentation and equity gaps between students of color, or between students of different genders, sexual identities, abled-bodied vs disabled students, etc. (just like in a perfect world, I would be perfectly healthy and of ideal weight!). Unfortunately, the reality is that we must constantly reflect on our perspectives and biases, and challenge stereotypes if we want to better serve all students. I try to be mindful as a practitioner. I strive to make my lectures and interactions with students meaningful. I strive to be supportive, accepting, without judgement. I strive to be curious and empathetic. Just like being on a diet, it’s hard work but I believe that if we can meet students where they are, then they will rise to reach their potential. Since I know students at Chapman are leaders and will pay it forward, this in turn will create a domino effect that will reach communities currently unreachable by Chapman.



Share a fun fact about yourself!

I love gardening and plants. More recently, I have begun making rock features and fountains in planters in my backyard. But more than gardening, I love donuts. I will often talk about donuts during my lectures…especially when I lecture about carbohydrates!


Is there anything else you would like to share with our Schmid College community?

I’m very excited to be part of the Schmid College community. I have met very dedicated people here, who like me, are very student focused. In addition, the college is undergoing rapid growth and it’s exciting to be part of it.


Welcome to Schmid Dr. Zurita-Lopez!