2021 Jim and Barbara Tsay Excellence in Second Year Research and Academics Awards

Posted on

Tsay 2021 Logo

Ten talented third-year chemistry & biochemistry graduate students who have been awarded the 2021 Jim and Barbara Tsay Excellence in Second Year Research and Academics Awards. 

These awards were made possible by a generous endowment established in 2009 by Dr. Shyr-Jin “Jim” Tsay (Ph.D. ’77), recipient of our 2019 Alumni Legacy Award, and his wife Barbara. 

The awards are given to third-year graduate students who performed exceptionally in courses, teaching, and research throughout their first and second years and have advanced to candidacy.  Preference is given to students who have published one or more research papers from their graduate studies and maintained a core GPA ≤ 3.70.

These awards are normally presented to our students at our annual departmental awards ceremony, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch for more graduate award announcements coming soon!

2021TsayAwards Montage 0

Congratulations to all the following recipients: Samuel DeMario (Chanfreau group), Benjamin Hoar (Liu group), Helen (Ailun) Huang (Kaner group), Andrew Kelleghan (Garg group), Nicole Lynn (Torres group), Daniel Robertson (Tolbert group), Yi Shen (Diaconescu group), Anthony Spearman (Sletten group), Stephanie Tenney (Caram group), and Chloe Williams (Nelson group). 

About Dr. and Mrs. Jim and Barbara Tsay

Tsay Jim 0A native of Taiwan, Dr. Shyr-Jin “Jim” Tsay excelled in academics, graduating first in his high school class which gained him admission to the most prestigious university in Taiwan, the National Taiwan University. After graduation, he received a scholarship to attend graduate school at the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and in 1968, he moved to Los Angeles with his pregnant wife, Barbara, two young daughters, and only $700 in his pocket. Eventually, as his family grew, Dr. Tsay was forced to look for work outside of academia, and with capital borrowed from friends, family, and banks he purchased a small motel in the city of Compton, California. With hard work and dedication, his business grew and he found himself with too much work on his plate and very little time to devote to his dream of obtaining his Ph.D. in chemistry. 

Dr. Tsay’s thesis advisor Professor Daniel Kivelson knew of Tsay’s dreams and talent and he encouraged him to finish his Ph.D., warning him that he would regret it for the rest of his life if he passed up the opportunity.  With support from Prof. Kivelson, both emotionally and financially, Dr. Tsay was able to make it through the difficult final two years at UCLA and he received his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1977. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Tsay went on to open several more successful businesses. 

Inspired by the memory of how difficult it was to have to choose between money and education, and the profound impact that Prof. Kivelson’s kindness and selflessness had on his life, Dr. Tsay was inspired to help others.  In 2006, the Jim and Barbara Tsay Foundation was established to help those in less fortunate situations to receive the tools and education that they need to improve their circumstances.  Thanks to the many years of support from the Foundation, numbers of chemistry and biochemistry students have been able to complete their degrees and to go on to have successful careers.  

In 2017, the Tsay family established the Jim and Barbara Tsay Computer Study Lab. Located on the 4th floor of Young Hall, the study lab has become the gold standard for modern computer educational spaces. The Tsay family and their friends gathered with faculty on December 10, 2017 to celebrate the establishment of the computer study lab.

Dr. Tsay was awarded the department’s 2019 UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Alumni Legacy Award, which honors distinguished Ph.D. graduates in recognition of their achievements in life, and generous support and service to UCLA. 

We are incredibly grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Tsay for their support, which makes these awards possible.

Learn about this year’s other award recipients at the links below:

2021 Ralph & Charlene Bauer Graduate Student Awards

2021 Excellence in Research Graduate Student Awards

2021 Graduate Student Commencement Awards

2021 Graduate Student Teaching Awards will be announced the week of June 14, 2021.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.