Chemistry Senior Recognized as 2024 Merrill Presidential Scholar

The Chemistry undergraduate program will have a familiar face at the 2024 Merrill Presidential Scholars Award reception this spring. Graduating senior, Yichen Qiu, is among the select few who will receive the prestigious award for the 2023 – 2024 academic year. Created by Phillip Merrill ’55, the Merrill Scholars program “honors Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors, while also recognizing the teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success.”

A double major in Chemistry and Physics, Yichen has been highly active in the Chemistry community since arriving at Cornell University. A top student in her class who graduated with honors this spring, Yichen was always ready to meet with prospective students and share her love for Chemistry, and how much her experience at Cornell helped shape her future plans. For her mentors, Yichen chose to recognize Dr. Melissa Hines from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and her high school physics teacher, Mr. Wei He, from Capital Normal University High School in Beijing, China.

We asked Dr. Hines to share her thoughts on Yichen receiving this honor. She told us that, “Yichen has an infectious enthusiasm for all aspects of science and a curiosity that pushes her to dig deeply to understand chemistry at the most fundamental level.” Dr. Hines applauded Yichen’s ability to work closely with students who needed extra support in the Honors Physical Chemistry sequence, saying “I was perhaps most impressed by her decision to volunteer to be a TA for Chem 3890 and 3900. Yichen explained to me that not everyone understands math as well as the professor in the course, and she wanted to help others see through the math to the chemistry.”

When asked about what it means to her to be recognized as a Merrill Scholar, Yichen said, “Being named a Merrill Scholar is an incredibly meaningful experience to me. It's not only a witness of my personal and academic growth but also a recognition of the invaluable support I've received along the way…I want to show my greatest gratitude to the two pivotal mentors: Dr. Hines from the Chemistry department, and Mr. He from my high school. Their guidance has been essential in shaping my development as a professional scientist.” This fall, Yichen will continue her professional journey at Harvard University as she pursues a PhD in Chemical Physics.

More news

View all news
Portrait image Yichen Qiu