COSAM News Articles 2022 April Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Jiaming Liu named an Auburn University Outstanding Doctoral Student for 2021-22

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Jiaming Liu named an Auburn University Outstanding Doctoral Student for 2021-22

Published: 04/08/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Jiaming Liu, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, was recently selected by a special committee of the Graduate Council as one of Auburn University’s Outstanding Doctoral Students for 2021-22. She will be one of the students honored at the Graduate Awards Ceremony on April 18.

Liu, an organic chemistry major, has served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, or GTA, for general and organic chemistry labs in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since coming to Auburn in fall 2018.

As a GTA in chemistry, Liu is responsible for maintaining a safe, instructive atmosphere in the lab classes.

“I provide the pre-lab lectures for each experiment, guide the students for experimentation setup, answer questions and assist students during experiments, and grade the pre-lab quizzes and lab reports,” said Liu. “One important aspect of my role is to keep the students safe during the lab classes.”

In addition to her GTA role, Liu conducts research on synthetic organic chemistry with the Chen Research Group led by Ming Chen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in COSAM. The Chen Research Group’s interests involve catalytic asymmetric processes that employ transition-metal complexes as well as organic catalysts to produce enantioenriched molecules from readily available achiral feedstock chemicals. Such enantioenriched molecules have broad synthetic applications in pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

“I have been working on several projects after joining the Chen group,” said Liu. “I successfully developed a collection of functionalized allylboronate reagents for diastereo- and enantioselective carbonyl allylation and synthesized several classes of highly valuable enantioenriched homoallylic alcohol products. Several of these newly discovered methods have also been employed in the synthesis of structurally complex, bioactive natural products. The enantioenriched homoallylic alcohol products should be valuable for the development of medicines.”

During her time at Auburn, Liu has won additional awards including the Dow’s Fellowship, Newman Award, Livant Fellowship and an Outstanding International Student Award. In 2021, Liu was also awarded the Dean’s Research Award in COSAM. 

Upon learning of the Outstanding Doctoral Student recognition, Liu said it is a great honor to receive this prestigious award.

Liu described Chen as a supportive advisor of her research. 

“Dr. Chen gives me the total freedom to explore the chemistry,” said Liu. “Whenever I need help, he is always available for instruction and advice. In addition to the technical skills in the lab, I also learned from him important skills on scientific writing and presentation. Perhaps the most important skill I learned from him is critical thinking, which will be valuable for my future career.”

Chen stated that this award is an excellent recognition of Liu’s research work with the Chen group. 

“Working with a talented student like Jiaming is really a pleasure,” said Chen. “I hope that winning this award by Jiaming could serve as an inspiration for other graduate students in the chemistry and biochemistry department.”

Following graduation, Liu is considering postdoctoral studies and plans to take an academic position in a research university. She would like to continue to make contributions to the research field in the future.

Reflecting on advice for students interested in pursuing doctoral studies, Liu shared, “In addition to hard work and dedication, critical thinking about the projects and scientific research in general is vitally important to successful doctoral studies. Moreover, always keeping a curious mind and embracing the unexpected results will also serve you well during the process.”

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