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In This Issue

       

Qiyang Zhang’s fellowship makes it possible for him to pursue new scientific knowledge

The chemistry student is seeking a Ph.D. while writing a major paper, teaching undergrads

Qiyang Zhang, recipient of the Gene Zaid Fellowship in Chemistry, spends much of his week conducting experiments in the chemistry labs in McKinley Hall.
Qiyang Zhang, recipient of the Gene Zaid Fellowship in Chemistry, spends much of his week conducting experiments in the chemistry labs in McKinley Hall.

Qiyang Zhang is on a long, arduous road to becoming the caliber of scientist he wants to be to make a difference in the world.

With a master’s degree in analytical chemistry already in hand, he is working toward his doctorate at Wichita State, teaching chemistry to undergraduates, attending conferences and even getting a major paper published. His doctoral preparation includes conducting research for 40 hours a week in a lab in McKinley Hall. He also recently got married.

That long road to his Ph.D. probably won’t end until sometime in 2017, he says with a smile.

“It will be worth it, I hope,” Zhang says. “I am lucky and grateful to have this opportunity.”

Zhang is a recipient of the Gene Zaid Fellowship in Chemistry, named in honor of a WSU alumnus who founded his own company that manufactures and distributes oilfield-related specialty chemicals around the world. The company, JACAM Chemical, is based in Sterling, Kan.

Without the financial assistance, Zhang says, his pursuit of a doctorate would be even longer and more difficult than it already is.

“I would have to work outside to earn my tuition and pay for my living expenses,” he says. “Now, I can focus on achieving my degree and doing the research that I need to do to achieve my goals.”

Photo of Gene Zaid
Gene Zaid

Zhang, 30, works closely with his research advisor, Maojun Gong, on the study of neurotransmitters in the brain. The idea of conducting research that could lead to new discoveries about the human body is something that drives him, he says.

“There are a lot of things about the brain that we still can't explain, even after so many years of study and research,” he says. “We make very small steps each day that we hope will lead to bigger discoveries over time.”

Zhang recently celebrated a major achievement. A prominent journal published a research paper for which he was the primary author, in collaboration with Gong, who Zhang describes as “an amazing teacher and mentor.” The paper deals with the field of capillary electrophoresis, and that is probably as much as anybody except scientists and chemists needs to know. Zhang presented the paper at a prestigious gathering known as Pittcon, described as the world’s largest annual conference for analytical chemistry.

He hopes to have another scientific paper published this year.

“Qiyang is an accomplished student, researcher and scientist,” says David Eichhorn, chemistry department chair. “He is passionate about the discovery of new science and technology that will improve the human condition. We’re pleased to offer him valuable assistance through the Gene Zaid Fellowship.”

Zhang says that, with Wichita State’s help, he will seek a patent for the invention described in his paper. He feels excited to be part of WSU’s new emphasis on technology transfer — turning research into products that can be commercialized.

circle arrow If you would like to learn more about endowing a fellowship for graduate students at Wichita State, contact Joseph Hunter, WSU Foundation vice president for development, at 316-978-3808 or josephl.hunter@wichita.edu