Dr. Liqin Chen changing lives of Memorial science students

Dec 1st, 2021

Lisa Pendergast

Creating a scholarship or award is doing more than financially supporting a student’s journey to higher education.

In certain circumstances, such as those of Xiaolei Li (M.Sc.’16) and Fereshteh Shahhoseini, receiving funding can be a life-changing event.

Life-changing news

Ms. Li attended Memorial University from 2013-16 with her boyfriend and earned her master of science degree. After graduation, she returned to China to be with her family.

She and her now husband were at the same college, working on environmental pollutants using advanced instruments, when she decided she wanted to pursue a doctoral degree.

But she faced several challenges.

“I realized that there were people believing in me.”— Xiaolei Li

News that she had received a Dr. Liqin Chen Graduate Entrance Award for 2020 changed everything.

“Dr. Chen’s entrance scholarship arrived at my most challenging time during life; my mother was sick and I was hesitating to continue my program,” said Ms. Li.

“This scholarship reduces my financial stresses, and it is also a huge spiritual encouragement. I realized that there were people believing in me, which made me look at the stars and decide to go.”

Currently, Ms. Li is a PhD student at Memorial studying environmental analytics chemistry, while raising her six-year-old son.

“Memorial was my first choice because I consider St. John’s my second home,” she said.

“The Core Science Facility was another attraction, but, most of all, Dr. Karl Jobst in the Chemistry department, an expert in unknown contaminants identification, gave me the opportunity to join his group.”

Support and encouragement

Another student to benefit from Dr. Chen’s generosity is Ms. Shahhoseini.

She graduated with a bachelor of chemistry degree and a master of physical chemistry degree in Iran. She was interested in continuing her study of analytical chemistry.

This interest led her to Dr. Christina Bottaro’s research group in the field of chromatography and innovations in sample preparation at Memorial.

She received a Dr. Liqin Chen Graduate Entrance Award in 2017.

“[The Dr. Chen scholarship] results in higher quality of research, which leads to a better career future for all of us.”— Fereshteh Shahhoseini

“I saw the excitement of students when they received the Dr. Chen award and how they were enthusiastic to work on their projects instead of being worried about paying their bills,” said Ms. Shahhoseini.

“It results in higher quality of research, which leads to a better career future for all of us.”

She was further encouraged by receiving the Dr. Liqin Chen Graduate Excellence Award in 2020. It was encouragement that put her on the path to becoming an entrepreneur, just like her supporter.

Changing lives

When Dr. Liqin Chen (PhD’93) came to Memorial from Anhui, China, in 1990, he had little more than a suitcase.

He achieved great academic success under the supervision of Dr. Laurence Thompson and was awarded the title of Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies at graduation.

Dr. Chen went on to establish TLC Pharmaceutical Standards – a multimillion-dollar international pharmaceutical company that is a world leader in its field, employing 250 people with customers in 75 countries.

In October 2021 he was named Memorial University’s Alumnus of the Year.

He was celebrated for his academic achievements, his incredible success as an entrepreneur and his generosity in giving back to causes that are personally important to him.

“My parents always reminded us to be grateful — like an old Chinese saying: Return a favour many times more.”— Dr. Liqin Chen

He has described Memorial University as his favourite charity, stating, “Memorial University and the people there helped me when I needed it the most. It was the place that changed my life and my family’s life. My parents always reminded us to be grateful — like an old Chinese saying: Return a favour many times more.”

Dr. Chen is donating $100,000 annually for 10 years, for a total of $1 million, to the Department of Chemistry at Memorial to fund the Chen Graduate Scholarships in Chemistry.

In doing so, Dr. Chen has significantly impacted the lives of more than 100 Memorial University students — including Ms. Li and Ms. Shahhoseini.

By contributing in this way, Dr. Chen inspires science students to follow his example and help change the future of science, despite their individual challenges.

A better future

“Pursuing science while being a caregiver has never been easy,” said Ms. Li. “Dr. Chen’s personal story and success as a chemist both in academia and industry have given me much courage to fight against difficulties on the way towards being an independent woman scientist. I became more grateful and tried to help others in need. These are the best rewards I have received from this scholarship.”

Ms. Shahhoseini echoes the sentiment, saying that Dr. Chen has inspired her as a scientist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

“I am very thankful to Dr. Chen and I want him to know that he is the reason that I became an entrepreneur,” she said. “I incorporated my startup, Extech MIP, last year. He is a role model for me, showing that it is possible for a scientist to be successful in business. I hope I can make similar impacts to the ones he has made for Memorial, the chemistry department and students.”