ChBE Undergrad is Recipient of the 2019 Roberta Ma Scholarship

Qixuan “Leo” Hu, currently a senior in the University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE), is the 2019 recipient of the Roberta Ma Scholarship.

“I would like to thank Professor Aku Asa-Awuku for the recommendation letter, and Professor Gabriela Gillespie for the help with my application,” said Hu. “This scholarship is a big encouragement for me to pursue my goals.”

Hu first visited the States while attending a summer camp in middle school. He enjoyed the trip so much that he decided to return for University studies. Naturally inquisitive from an early age, Hu enjoyed anything science-related and working with his hands. Chemical engineering seemed to be a natural fit, he conveyed, and UMD provides proximity to so many career opportunities; thus, began his studies in 2016.

“Post commencement, I am planning to attend graduate school.” Hu said. “I will apply for my Ph.D. later this semester, although I haven’t yet decided on my ultimate career goal.”

Some of Hu’s favorite courses include transport phenomena (CHE 422 and 424), kinetics (CHE 440) and control of air pollution sources (CHE 472). His current research focuses on "making biopolymer-based gels with enhanced stability under physiological conditions. I will also optimize the shape of the gel to study the transportation of electrical signal between the cells in this artificial environment," said Hu. The work is conducted in ChBE Professor Srinivasa Raghavan’s Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials lab and will possibly be used in the pharmaceutical arena.

“Being a chemical engineering major takes hard work - I have spent lots of time in the library over the last several years, and my junior year was really laborious,” said Hu. “Life [in the U.S.] requires more self-discipline and self-reflection since no one is ‘pushing’ you to do well.” That said, Hu still takes time to socialize with friends, play board games, and relax, as Dr. Ma would have encouraged.

Established in 1985, the Ma fund provides scholarships and other forms of assistance to international students at UMD. Roberta M. Ma came to the U.S. in 1924 from China to study botany at the University of Texas, eventually becoming an FDA biochemical researcher. In 1960, she started offering her home to international students where they could study, break bread, and generally find a home-away-from-home. The group eventually become a non-profit organization called Koinonia Agapes, Inc., or “Fellowship of Love.” Dr. Ma’s goal was to open a community center to carry on the newly established tradition, but she passed away before her dream was achieved. The board “decided that an international student scholarship would fulfill Dr. Ma’s dream of building international understanding and contributing to the achievement of world peace by assisting international students” with their transition.

Eligibility criteria for funding include a GPA of 3.0 or higher, completion of at least 80 credits towards a bachelor’s degree and demonstrated financial need. For additional information, please follow this link

Published October 28, 2019