Grade A Chemistry Student Reaps Benefits of Conquering Fears and Breaking Boundaries

Published: October 22, 2019

Three and a half years ago, Biling Chen arrived at JFK airport from China with a mission to enroll in college to study science.

Since enrolling at Queensborough Community College, her academic growth and adaptability resulted in opportunities to explore research as well as earn a flurry of awards acknowledging her accomplishments and community outreach.

The Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI), of the City University of New York (CUNY), has selected Biling for the 2019 CUNY Thomas Tam Scholarship. She is the only student within CUNY to receive the award this year which will allow Biling to conduct a workshop for newly-arrived Asian international students at Queensborough on how to navigate college life, and offer tutoring for science, math and English courses. The workshop will be conducted in English to help students practice their speaking skills, and to foster more social connections on and off-campus. Participants will also visit local retirement homes to provide company to Asian immigrant seniors who may feel isolated.

As an international student herself, Biling knows the challenges of arriving to a new country with no English speaking skills. It was not until she enrolled in science courses at Queensborough and socialized with students of other ethnic backgrounds that she found herself more integrated with the community.  Through the guidance of her research mentor, Dr. Sasan Karimi, Biling has presented Organic Chemistry research at professional conferences at the Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted at Queens College, Baruch College, York College, as well as at CRSP Symposium at John Jay. Biling noted, "Dr. Karimi introduced me to the beautiful world of chemistry as he explained to me “the world needs dedicated people who can focus on chemistry to make life better for humanity. This solidified my desire to major in chemistry and focus on researching and developing drugs that may benefit humanity. She was also elected president of the Queensborough Chemistry Club. In 2018 she presented her scientific research during National Chemistry Week at the New York Hall of Science. 

Biling acknowledges Dr. Svoronos for his guidance and for teaching her critical thinking in Organic Chemistry.  While taking CH-151, 251, and 252 with Dr. Svoronos, she explains that on multiple occasions he challenged her by bringing her to the board to solve difficult problems reassuring Biling that she is as good as a Harvard student. Dr. Svoronos has also encouraged Biling to apply for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation - Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Dr. Sasan Karimi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, praised Biling who has been researching under his supervision for several years. “Biling is bright, hardworking and possesses a genuine enthusiasm for the study of chemistry.  I came to know her after she completed Introduction to Chemistry, and expressed her interest to do research.  She has already completed both courses for General and Organic Chemistry and earned A’s in all these courses.”

Biling conducts research that aims to synthesize drugs that will hopefully reduce the cost of cancer medication. “Every day I live and breathe chemistry, and I love it, not only because I enjoy working on complex scientific problems but also because I believe that life-saving medicine should be available to everyone.”  

Dr. Karimi noted, “She has been the recipient of the CUNY-CRSP (CUNY Research Scholars Program Symposium​) award for several semesters which has financially enabled her to continue her research with me. In my research lab, Biling, together with several other lab mates, have been involved with the synthesis organic compounds for medicinal purposes.  The result of this investigation was accepted to be published in the Journal of Heterocyclic Chemistry.”

She earned the Paris Svoronos Scholarship for Excellence in Organic Chemistry (May 2018 and 2019); the Pak Kueng Wong Scholarship Award for Excellence in Research (May 2018, January 2019 and May 2019. In fall 2018, Biling was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa (Lambda Sigma Chapter) and has received a merit scholarship. She has also been on Queensborough’s Dean’s list for the last three semesters.

Biling is equally astute in Biology. She is a member of the research team guided by Dr. Urszula Golebiewska, Associate Professor and Co-Deputy Chairperson, Biological Sciences and Geology that works on identifying viruses. She presented her work last spring at a National Symposium at SUNY Old Westbury. 




Contact:  Alice Doyle

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