2022 Jim and Barbara Tsay Excellence in Second Year Research and Academics Awards

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2022 Tsay award recipients
2022 Jim and Barbara Tsay award recipients: (from left, 1st column) Ana Bulger (Garg group), Claire Dickerson (Alexandrova group), (2nd column) Andrew Goring (Loo group), Noelle Alexa Novales (C. Clarke group), Billy Treacy (Houk/Maynard groups), (3rd column) Benqian Wei (Loo group), (4th column) Zisheng Zhang (Alexandrova group).

Seven talented third-year chemistry & biochemistry graduate students who have been awarded the 2022 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.

The awards were presented to our students at our annual departmental awards ceremony on May 13, 2022. Congratulations to all the recipients listed below!

2022 Jim and Barbara Tsay award recipients are Ana Bulger (Garg group), Claire Dickerson (Alexandrova group), Andrew Goring (Loo group), Noelle Alexa Novales (C. Clarke group), Billy Treacy (Houk/Maynard groups), Benqian Wei (Loo group), Zisheng Zhang (Alexandrova group).

About Dr. and Mrs. Jim and Barbara Tsay

Barbara and Shyr-Jin “Jim” Tsay holding their wedding photo.

A 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.

Read about this year’s other graduate student award recipients at the links below:

2022 Excellence in Research Awards
2022 Ralph & Charlene Bauer Graduate Student Awards 
2022 Foote Senior Fellows
2022 Michael E. Jung Excellence in Teaching Awards

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