Weilin Li, Class of 2021, discovers a passion for research
As we approach the Class of 2021’s graduation day, we are talking with a few members of the class about how they have grown and what they have learned during their time at CMU-Q. This week, we speak to Weilin Li, who is completing her degree in biological sciences.
CMU-Q News: Why did you choose biological sciences?
Weilin: That’s an interesting question because back in high school, I used to be a humanities and art student. I had limited background and training in biological sciences, but I have always wanted to try something different. So I decided to join CMU- Q and to study biological sciences, which is a decision that I’ve never regretted.
CMU-Q News: You came to CMU-Q as an international student from China. What was that like?
Weilin: At first I was a little nervous. I decided to come to CMU Qatar in 2017, and after I accepted the offer, the blockade happened. But when I got here, I was so impressed by the solidarity of Qatari people. Every time I go to the souq, for instance, I see people proudly promoting local products, which is quite impressive.
CMU-Q News: Was it difficult to adjust to biological sciences, since you focused on humanities and the arts in high school?
Weilin: When I was a first-year student, I did have a hard time catching up with courses. But I went to my professors, the course assistants, the teaching assistants, and my peers. Everyone here is ready to help you.
CMU-Q News: What was a defining moment of your first year?
Weilin: During my first year, I did the Summer Research Institute in Pittsburgh. I was working on biochemistry project led by a faculty member at CMU, and it was the first time that I was exposed to the authentic research experience. It was really exciting, and I discovered my passion in research. The next summer I worked on a project at the Central European Institute of Technology in the Czech Republic, and it was then that I found my interest in molecular and cellular biology. When I returned to CMU-Q and decided to conduct my honors thesis on a similar project.
CMU-Q News: What is your honors thesis on?
I’m currently working on the elucidation of a novel protein in breast cancer. I’m really interested in the pathogenesis of cancer, and I would like to decipher the mechanism underlying tumorigenesis of different cancers.
CMU-Q News: Have there been any faculty members who have influenced you during your time at CMU-Q? Is there anything you would like to tell them?
Weilin: Yeah, the bio professors have supported me greatly. They have given me unconditional support and encouragement, and also prepared me to be a conscientious scientist and a responsible global citizen. For that, I’m really appreciative. I would just say thank you.
CMU-Q News: With all of your academic and research work, have you had time for any extracurricular activities?
Weilin: So actually in the past the four years, I have been engaged in several extracurricular activities. I traveled to Sri Lanka and helped teach English at a local primary school. I also traveled to Rwanda with a group of CMU students from the Qatar, Pittsburgh and Africa campuses, and together we worked on a project to train teachers in basic programming. One of our most unforgettable experiences was to meet President Kagame to talk about STEM education.
CMU-Q News: What words of wisdom do you have for younger students who are just starting at Carnegie Mellon?
Weilin: My favorite motto is also the motto of Paris. It’s a Latin phrase, fluctuat nec mergitur. I don’t know if I pronounced it correctly, but in English it means “she’s tossed by the waves, but she never sinks.” So basically I think the message is that in your life, there will be hard times and struggles. Be proactive, be persistent and be resilient and most importantly, be patient with yourself. At some point everything will come together.
CMU-Q News: That’s wonderful. Thank you, Weilin.
Weilin: Thank you!