Welcome to our new Teaching Lab Manager, Cristina Medina-Plaza!


Cristina (Cris) is from Valladolid (and the surrounding region), in central Spain. She received her B.S. in Chemistry, a M.S. in advanced techniques in chemistry, and then a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Valladolid. However, she says that her Ph.D. is really in electrochemistry because that was her thesis topic. She worked on sensors to look at ripening in grapes (sugars and phenolics). 

She originally came to UC Davis on an internship during her Ph.D. studies. She worked with Adam Moule in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science at UC Davis. During this time, she realized that she was interested in doing further research in grapes and wine. Professor Moule suggested that she contact David Block (who has a joint appointment in Viticulture and Enology and Chemical Engineering). Dr. Block put her in touch with Anita Oberholster who happened to have a project studying extractability that would be the perfect project for someone with her skill set. So, in July 2016, Cris moved to Davis, CA, and she has been here ever since! She was a postdoctoral researcher and then a project scientist in the Oberholster lab. 

When asked what inspired her to become the teaching lab manager, Cris said, “I always wanted to teach, to interact with students.” In fact, her dad was a teacher and she mentioned that when she was young, she used to teach her dolls! She likes to be constantly learning, gaining new knowledge, and meeting new people. I asked Cris what a typical day looks like. She said that most of the labs are in the afternoon, so in the morning she must make sure everything is ready. This sometimes requires that the materials be prepared a day or a week in advance. On the days she does not have a class, she is planning and ordering supplies for the following quarter. When asked about skills that she brings to the lab classes, she mentioned that she is approachable, which will make students feel more comfortable asking questions. She is also energetic, organized, and knowledgeable. 

When she is not working, you might find Cris routing for her favorite sports teams (Soccer-Real Valladolid or Basketball-Sacramento Kings), enjoying the social scene in Davis, or traveling to some of her favorite places. When asked about her favorite food, she said, potatoes. Her favorite ways to eat potatoes are as French Fries or in a Spanish Omelet. Some of her favorite places to visit are New York City, National and State Parks in California, Paso Robles, and Europe. 

We are excited to have Cristina in the Department of Viticulture and Enology!