San Marcos

Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a renowned molecular biologist whose research has contributed greatly to medical science. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dr. Villa-Komaroff was a key member of the team that showed for the first time that bacteria could be induced to produce insulin. The research was a milestone in the development of the biotechnology industry.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff is one of six women scientists featured in the PBS series, “Discovering Women” and among 11 women scientists profiled on the White House Office of Science and Technology website, her research on insulin-related growth factors was featured in the PBS documentary “DNA Detectives.”

Her numerous awards and honors include the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement award, induction into the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Hall of Fame, National Hispanic Scientist of the Year from The Museum of Science and Industry, and the Women of Distinction award from the American Association of University Women. Dr. Villa-Komaroff also was a founding member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff’s achievements go far beyond her award-winning research in the lab. She is a role model for STEM students, showing that race and gender barriers can be broken in science. She has been a diversity advocate throughout her career, actively mentoring students in her lab - particularly women - Hispanics and American Indians.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff’s extensive achievements and commitment to mentoring students are examples of California State University San Marcos’ aspirations for its diverse student body and embodies the motto, “sí, se puede!” or “yes, you can!” She has been a signature speaker at California State University San Marcos’ Arts and Lectures series and a keynote speaker for the university’s week-long 20th anniversary celebration naming César Chávez Plaza and installing the Chávez statue. Her speeches and presentations inspire students to defy barriers and become great scientists. In recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and influential role in mentoring future generations of scientists, particularly from underrepresented communities, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University San Marcos are proud to confer upon Lydia Villa-Komaroff the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.