Queensborough Community College Student Awarded Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

Published: April 28, 2020

Biling Chen, a student at Queensborough Community College, is one of 50 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Chen with up to $40,000 per year to complete her baccalaureate degree. Additionally, Cooke scholars are eligible to apply for up to $75,000 of funding toward graduate school. 

Nearly 1,500 students from 311 community colleges applied for the 2020 Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Awardees were chosen for their persistent high level of academic achievement, leadership and service to others. 

“This achievement underlines and attests to Bilings’ exceptional success as a student whose leadership and courage has served as an inspiration to other first-generation community college students,” said Timothy G. Lynch, Ph.D., Interim President of Queensborough Community College. “I am extremely proud of Biling and those outstanding faculty members who ignited her love of Chemistry and talent for undergraduate research.” 

Chen, a Chemistry major, enrolled at Queensborough in the fall of 2017. Among her most recent accolades is the 2019 CUNY Thomas Tam Scholarship. She was the only student within CUNY to be selected for the 2019 award. 

Meet Biling Chen, above.

Originally from China, Chen understands the challenges of arriving to a new country with no English speaking skills. Her hard work and adaptability however resulted in opportunities to explore research and develop her astuteness in science. 

Drs. Sasan Karimi and Paris Svoronos of the Department of Chemistry, and Dr. Urszula Golebiewska of the Department of Biology were key players in Chen’s success. 

Through the guidance of her research mentor, Dr. Sasan Karimi, Chen presented Organic Chemistry research at professional conferences at the Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted at several senior CUNY colleges, including the CRSP Symposium at John Jay College. In 2018 she was the recipient of the CUNY-CRSP award for several semesters which financially enabled her to continue her research under his guidance. 

Karimi praised Chen 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 had already completed both courses for General and Organic Chemistry and earned A’s in all these courses.” 

Chen 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.”  

Karimi noted, “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.” 

Her research project under Dr. Urzula Golbiewska, Biological Sciences and Geology, was also accepted at the National American Chemical Society in Philadelphia scheduled for March 2020 that was cancelled, but whose abstract is still included in the archives of the society. 

Dr. Golbiewska said, “Biling participated in many advanced projects as a student in my honors class, including a program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Undergraduate Research Day at Queensborough and the Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists conference. She is a talented researcher, following the guidelines, protocols and instruction to the smallest details.” 

She earned the Peter Pak Kuen Wong Scholarship Award for Excellence in Research for three subsequent semesters: spring 2018, and two in spring 2019; and earned the Paris Svoronos Scholarship for Excellence in Organic Chemistry in spring 2018 and 2019.  In fall of 2018 Chen was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa (Lambda Sigma Chapter) and served as its President for the 2019-20 academic year. She will graduate this spring with an Associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mathematics/Chemistry, and will enroll at Hunter College in the fall of 2020. 

“This is an extremely honorable success that underlines the good work of our college faculty. It is students who positively respond towards the pressure associated with upper education, while trusting their professors and mentors, that make our institution shine,” said Svoronos, who noted that Chen is the sixth Queensborough student to receive the award in four years; five of which were Chemistry majors. 

Of her mentors, Chen said, “It is amazing how my life has changed. When I started at Queensborough, I could barely speak English, and now I am a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar. I am grateful to everyone from the bottom of my heart and always will remember their belief in me no matter how far I go.” 

Svoronos added, “Students must possess more than excellent grades to qualify for this distinguished award. They must also demonstrate their persistence towards a diverse resume and dedication to being outstanding researchers, leaders and mentors. This can be evidenced by their commitment to undertake challenges such as a research project where failure serves in strengthening the individual’s character.” 

Interviews available through the Division of Marketing and Communications. 

Press Contacts:

Michael T. Donahue, Director



Alice Doyle, Manager







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