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In the Focus

2017 Graduate Stories: Liu Sijia – “I lived the ideal university graduate's life”

May 16, 2017 Latest

She is warm and beautiful, cheerful and friendly; she loves life, is focused and enthusiastic.

She is a researcher at the Department of Chemistry, she won the iGEM international gold medal, won the IKEA scholarship, and also took home first prize at the APC (Asian Photochemical Conference) "Asian material poster award".

As if that wasn't already enough, she is also the finance minister of the student union and drafted its first official financial documents. She is a veteran of the hip-hop society, jazz and Latin dance clubs, and is exceptionally charming.

She is Liu Sijia, SUSTech's Department of Chemistry 2017 graduate. At present, she has received four scholarships from the University of North Carolina State University, the University of Connecticut and other four major US higher education institutes for her PhD project.

"Very happy and very fortunate, I lived the ideal university life!" Liu Sijia says with a smile.

Practical work to transform "scientific white paper research" into "experimental tycoons"

iGEM is a synthetic biology competition which is organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Liu began to read literature to prepare for it under the guidance of her tutor who helped her design an experimental route and discussed the experimental program. Liu said: "Participating in iGEM was an experiment in in itself from the very start, the whole experimental operation, thinking logically, I felt I had a lot to catch up on so much but gradually with the help of my tutor I got started and worked my way through to the practical stage. It is all about attitude and hard work, because I want to go further down the road of scientific research”.

After the competition, Liu joined the Department of Chemistry's Professor Huang Wenzhong and his research group. From a laboratory RA helping out with experients to her own independent research project, Liu grew steadily along the way. "In terms of learning ability, experimental skills and effort, Sijia is undoubtedly a very good student. Her diligence impresses me a lot, and in order to collect experimental data, she worked many times in the laboratory straight through the night.". These are the words of Liu's professor. As a sophomore next semester, she has been able to study her subject very independently. "When you are really passionate about your subject, you will be completely immersed in the experiments, and although you will encounter a lot of problems, they will gradually develop your ability to solve them and this is a very positive process for me." Liu explains with a smile. Reaching a bottleneck or a barrier is a normal step in research, but when you succeed in solving the problem, the joy it makes you feel is difficult to put into words!”.

So far, Liu has been involved in two projects with Professor Huang Wenzhong's research group, the results of which have been written in two papers that are currently in submission. With her excellent experimental results, she showcased her projects as the first author at the Ninth Asian Photochemical Conference (APC) at the Lingnan Organic Chemistry Forum held at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Out of many post-doctoral and graduate students, it was her who was awarded the "Asian material poster award", a testimony to her hard work and positive attitude. "All along, I have been focused on doing my own favorite things, and try to do it the best I can." Through endeavour and dedication, Liu turned little buds of interest into amazing flowers, from small scientific research to experimental empress.

"In high school we are busy, in sophomore busy, junior graduates are busy, and seniors even more busy." says Liu about her college life. She is not only involved in the Students Finance Department and the Department of Activities, she has just taken on the role of junior finance minister for the Students Office, where she is responsible for the budget application, account management, funding supervision and funding reimbursement work of the various student organizations. She also had to draft the first students Official Financial Document "Rules of Financial Process of the Executive Committee of Southern Science and Technology University". "The work of the Ministry of Finance tested my patience and attention to details, and the organization's activities allowed me to improve my ability to organize and lead. I miss having these activities all together, it gave me a sense of accomplishment, and I made a lot of friends on the way". Her organization's new party, arts and cultural festivals and other major events have now become traditional activities held every year.

In addition, Liu performed at the welcoming party on stage, and says it is important to continue to pursue one's own interests. She participated in the Shenzhen University City Arts Festival, and also performed at the Jinan University "Dream" campus open day exchange. Though she is currently graduating, she still finds time to learn jazz, waacking, latin ... … she never stops dancing.

She says it is important do do a good job in planning out your lifestyle and schedule, and it is important to stay true to what you love. She said: "first determine your priorities, and then devote yourself to them, so as to be orderly and efficient at the same time”.

Friends to accompany us through the hard times

Along the way, Liu seemed focused from the beginning to the end, in what one could call perfectly smooth sailing: as a freshman, iGEM winner, as a sophomore, Chemistry researcher, after graduation, application for her PhD and received many offers, and extracurricular life full of excitement and responsibitilies. This is the way SUSTech will prepare its members to face life... However, behind the scenes, she says she also experienced bitterness, frustration and confusion. "When I participated in iGEM I was often doing experiments late into the night, I went to the United States and missed out on half a month of class. At the time I didn't know how to balance time, and my learning results plummeted, only to slowly work back up through a tough and demanding process. Fortunately I had many friends around me to support me, my group of three classmates from the 2013 class would always take the time to help me out and explain anything to me no matter how incredibly busy they were as well.

Liu Sijia specifically mentioned his own academic tutor Professor Huang Wenzhong: "Professor Huang will give us subjects so that we try to complete tasks independently, but in that process he will always be a huge source of guidance, assistance and inspiration." About the atmosphere of SUSTech, Liu said she couldn't have wished for better:" You can feel the teachers are very friendly, they are always willing to help you out. This is not limited to the teaching environment, it 's also true about the lovely teachers and the classmates who have them, and I feel I'm really lucky.

"You only live one, do your best!"

"I am very grateful for SUSTech, and I think that these four years will be a valuable experience in my life. Here, I witnessed the vigorous development of the university, I met a group of lovely people, I have had a colorful and beautiful student life. I am very grateful for everything and for everyone here at SUSTech.

Speaking of the future, Liu said she hopes students can always engage in what they like to do, to stay focused on their passion. "I hope to continue my scientific research, and constantly improve my own level. With our strengths and opportunities, we should aim to bring progress to society through our efforts and contributions”.

When asked what message she had for the younger students of SUSTech she exclames "You only live once, do your best!" "Everyone 's values are different, their goals are different, and to understand what they want, its important to follow your own path, don't blindly envy others, but be inspired by their success”.


Text: Student News Agency reporter Li Chen

Photo: Student News reporter Dong Zeyu

Edited by: Jeremy Welburn

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