media release

Science sizzles for silver medallist

June 14, 2011

Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.3210;

Amy Chen
Photo on Flickr

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s not Lady Gaga, the latest “it” designer or the newest “hottie” that rocks 22-year-old Amy Chen’s world.

On the Simon Fraser University graduate’s nightstand is an autobiography of Craig Venter, the man who sequenced his own genome.

Recorded on the PVR: The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom that pokes fun at physicists. Noted in her organizer: a reminder to book a ticket to San Francisco in September, where she’ll attend the University of California and earn her PhD in biomedical sciences.

On her list of long-term goals: start a research lab in stem cell, cancer or genetic research.

Chen’s passion for all things science revealed itself when she was in Grade 8. “I liked the fundamental concepts involved in science as opposed to just memorizing a bunch of facts,” she recalls.

Her affinity for the subject, combined with a capacity to focus and work hard, helped her earn an SFU honours degree in molecular biology and biochemistry and one of two prestigious Governor General’s silver convocation medals.

The medals are bestowed annually on the top two graduating undergraduate students in any faculty who have maintained the highest scholastic standings during a minimum of 60 semester hours.

Chen achieved an impressive 4.25 CGPA while earning her degree—just shy of the maximum 4.33. At the same time, she volunteered in SFU’s genetics lab and in the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre research lab, where she investigated breast cancer treatment resistance.

This Burnaby native comes by her talent honestly; her dad Michael Chen is an SFU senior lecturer and physicist.  But that doesn’t mean his daughter hasn’t got a mind of her own. “My dad will tell you I do,” she says. “He hates The Big Bang Theory.”

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