OBU senior Yuen-Jing Alexis Chen, a biochemistry major from Shawnee, recently has been recognized for her academic achievement in two venues. On March 26, Chen gave a poster presentation at the National American Chemical Society Conference in San Diego, Calif. She also has been accepted to the highly competitive Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Flemings Scholarship program.
The poster presentation, titled "A Computational Study of Diruthenium Complexes: Super Catalysts and Molecular Tweezers," stemmed from Chen's 2011 summer research at Texas A&M University. She applied to the Chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and was accepted to Dr. Michael Hall's research group, which dealt with computational chemistry. As a result of participating in REU, Chen received the opportunity to present her research findings at the National American Chemical Society conference.
Since OBU is a smaller university, opportunities to participate in current research often come from summer research experiences elsewhere, Chen explained, and being accepted into an REU program is no small feat.
"Being accepted into an REU program depends on the student's person statement, grades, grade point average and letters of recommendation," Chen said. "Even if you have all these qualifications, you may be passed over for someone who has connections at more well-known universities."
Chen said her presentation was fairly brief; she stood at her poster for an hour and answered questions from passersby. The overall experience of the conference, however, offered the prospect of sharing knowledge and insight with people from all areas of academia and industry. Not only did she present her own research, but she also attended discussions describing the progress of scientific studies and various methods of problem-solving.
Additionally, Chen was chosen to intern for eight weeks at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). To her, working at OMRF advances her another step closer to medical school and pursuing her goal of earning an MD/PhD. She said she looks forward to continuing research as well as pursuing a medical doctorate, and by working at OMRF, she will be in contact with people who work in her fields of interest.
"It's a great learning experience, and to see the research so closely involved with the medical applications … is an opportunity to see firsthand the future I hope to pursue: helping and treating people in and out of the lab," Chen said.
Chen said she feels honored to be given the opportunity to represent OBU scholastically. She gave credit to her OBU professors, who she said "always set a precedence in the classroom and in the community." She believes her education has been shaped and enhanced by professors' influences as "scholarly figures" as well as "Christ-like characters." Chen said the knowledge she has gained from her OBU education has helped her to look outside conventional restrictions and push past her limitations.
"When it comes down to learning and being curious, it has always been the limits I set up against myself that have stopped me from achieving greater experiences and knowledge," she said. "I feel that the professors, through their courses, have made me see my obstacles for what they were -- a barrier of the mind.
"All the science professors, at one point in my education, have pushed me to excel," she continued. "I would do none of them justice by singling one out because they've all helped me in my growth as a student of science and of God. I may be biased in saying, though, that having my father, Dr. Chen, present in my academic pursuits has possibly been one the most meaningful parts of growing up at OBU. He has been my greatest critic and, with my mom, my biggest supporter."
Chen's father, Dr. Albert Chen, serves as a professor of physics at OBU.
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