News Release| CSULA, Cal State L.A.; Hoover Foundation Award, Los Angeles, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

Note to editors and news directors: The $25,000 J. Edgar Hoover Foundation’s Scientific Scholarship will be presented to Alejandra Ramirez Friday, June 6, at a meeting of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of the Los Angeles Regional Crime Laboratory at Cal State L.A.’s Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center. The meeting begins at 8 a.m., and the presentation is expected between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Reporters are invited to attend.


Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, both members of the JPA, are expected to attend. Ramirez will be available for interviews after the presentation. Photos of the presentation will also be available upon request. For details, call 323-343-3050.  

Crime-solving potential of research nets CSULA student $25,000 Hoover Foundation award

National Scientific Scholarship links Ramirez’s promise to FBI’s history

Los Angeles, CA – When Cal State L.A. criminalistics graduate student Alejandra Ramirez uses exquisite biochemistry techniques to analyze a strand of hair, she’s looking for more than traces of drugs or poison.

 “Fundamental to my interest in forensic sciences is the quest for truth and justice,” says Ramirez.

 In recognition of her scholarly success and her commitment to evidence analysis, Ramirez will receive the $25,000 J. Edgar Hoover Foundation’s Scientific Scholarship. Nationwide, only one student each year receives the award. The foundation honors Hoover, who directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 until 1972 and who championed the pioneering FBI crime labs.

 Ramirez will be presented the award Friday, June 6, at a meeting of the Los Angeles Regional Crime Laboratory’s Joint Powers Authority, whose members include Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton. The JPA meets at the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center at Cal State L.A. (The center, a five-story facility dedicated last year, houses the state-of-the-art regional crime labs of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with the California Forensic Science Institute and Cal State L.A.’s School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics.)

 Ramirez, a 2003 graduate of Schurr High School in Montebello, earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Cal State L.A. in 2007. As an undergraduate, she co-authored several biochemistry journal articles on a technique called capillary electrophoresis as a member of Cal State L.A. Professor Frank Gomez’s research team.

 Currently her work focuses on developing new forensics methods based on microfluidics, the manipulation and analysis of fluids as they course through tiny chambers controlled by microvalves.

 “These devices,” said Ramirez, “are small enough to fit on the palm of the hand, and have the potential of carrying out separations and detections of a number of substances of interest (including those with blood, DNA and protein samples) to forensic scientists.  There may come the day when bulky instrumentation will no longer be used, and it will be possible to carry out a variety of analyses with hand-held devices at the scene of the crime.”

 According to Professor Gomez, “Alejandra’s work in the development of novel assays and separations techniques is critical in the analysis of small quantities of biological species, which is frequently a requirement in forensic analyses.”

 Bill Baker, a former assistant director of the FBI and a vice president and director of The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, said the scientific scholarship is “highly competitive.” The foundation, he said, honors Hoover’s legacy by providing scholarships and operating the J. Edgar Hoover Center for Law Enforcement.

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 200,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.