Inspired by faculty, Sally Chen earns degree in biological engineering

December 08, 2023

Sally Chen

When finalizing her college choice, Sally Chen combed through two university catalogs and noticed something different about Mizzou Engineering: the bioengineering electives were more robust and flexible. That, and the fact she’s lived in Columbia since fifth grade, sealed her decision.

Her time at Mizzou Engineering has been highlighted by creating connections with faculty members. From joining clubs and undergraduate research to getting help ahead of an exam, the faculty have helped inspire her outlook on exploring STEM.

Chen intends to continue her education by attending graduate school. She shared more about her undergraduate experience in the Q&A below.

How did you get involved at Mizzou?

Interestingly, much of my serious involvement in campus activities was through connections with a faculty member.

One of the clubs I got involved with was as a Water Environmental Technologist member at Mizzou through one of my classes. Because the professor of the class was the club advisor and he advertised it, I thought, why not? This was during COVID, and we had only a few online club meetings. When the advisor of the club asked if anyone wanted to be an officer in the club, I volunteered for the vice president role.

I’m also a part of the Society of Asian Engineers, a new student org. The club hosted a few events that I went to, including an opportunity to build a remote car with balloons tied on it and compete by trying to poke other people’s balloons on top of their remote cars.

I got involved in research by taking a course with a professor and liking the materials. I then asked to join the lab and do research.

At Mizzou, I believe the professors are always helpful and will try to answer your questions, either regarding class content or to take a look over your resume. I used to spend half an hour every week in a professor’s office trying to understand semiconductors and electronic components. Another time, I emailed a professor back and forth until near midnight before finals. The knowledge and effort they have taken to ensure students understand everything have been instrumental in inspiring my attitude toward science and obstacles in life. I hope to carry on their dedication toward students if I go on to work in academia 10 years from now.

What would you tell someone who’s interested in coming to Mizzou?

It’s a school with a lot of people, whether faculty or staff or other students, who can help move you forward.

Are you a part of any programming, or have you visited any resource centers within the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity?

I would recommend the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. This semester, they had free breakfast every first and third Monday of the month. AnDrea Jackson, the women who ran the event, was very welcoming and took care of every student that came through the door.

What is your favorite thing about biological engineering?

Biological engineering (BE) is flexible. We can simply declare to go on the medical track and take all the BME classes, which count toward our degree.

What’s your favorite Mizzou Engineering memory?

Working with a friend to build a pulse oximeter in class. It sounds hard, but it’s actually pretty easy since the instructions are all there. It was a fun time to see the things we learned get applied to something practical.