Shengqian Ma

photo of Shengqian Ma

  • PhD in Chemistry (2008)
  • BS, Jilin University, China (2003)
  • Professor at the University of South Florida
  • Director's Postdoctoral Fellow, Argonne National Laboratory, 2008-2010
  • published over 30 papers while at Miami; studies synthetic inorganic and organic materials
  • Gilbert and Joyce Gordon Lecturer for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry (2019)

My Profession

"I am currently a professor of chemistry at the University of South Florida. Right now for my independent research, we are doing new materials development for energy, environmental, and biology applications. Specifically, we're developing advanced porous materials, including metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent organic frameworks (COFs), and porous organic polymers (POPs)."

My Miami Experiences

"About 16 years ago I arrived for the first time at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport by myself to begin my career as a PhD student at Miami. It was early August, and I had just completed a long, exhausting trip from Beijing, stopping first in Tokyo and then Detroit. It took around 36 hours. Another senior PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was waiting at the airport to take me to Oxford.

"One of my most vivid memories is waking up early the next morning, at about 3 or 4 am, and driving from my apartment to come to the basement of Hughes Hall. I was in charge of the x-ray machine in our research group. However, there was a geology professor who also often came to campus very early. He needed to use the machine at 6. I remember that I needed to wake up very early so that I could have enough time to stop our own experiment and put everything back to normal to get the machine ready for another professor!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"In terms of liberal arts, I think I learned quite a lot for my writing skills at Miami. When I had first arrived as an international student, I needed to take some English courses, especially my first semester, when I took a writing class.

"Learning these writing skills is really what helped me tremendously. Now that I'm a professor in academia myself, I need to write a lot: papers, proposals, those kinds of things. My writing training was phenomenal and helped me improve my English. After taking that English writing training class for one semester, I became a lot more confident in my writing skills, and this has definitely helped me lay a foundation for my future."

Advice to Students

"For undergraduates there are many opportunities. They actually have many more choices than grad students! Therefore, depending on their interests, if they want to go to medical school or graduate school, they need to do some research, work in a group, and produce some publications. That's what helps a lot.

"If you're thinking of continuing your education after you get your undergraduate degree from Miami, I strongly recommend that you just go. Get yourself trained in immersive ways with various kinds of research groups. And of course, you need to do a good job on the standard tests, such as the MCAT. And don't forget that your GPA is also very important!

"And once you're in graduate school, things become pretty straightforward in terms of the future. Just do all you can to make your research projects go smoothly and publish as many papers as possible."

[September 2019]