The University of Iowa

Young alumna gives back to show appreciation

June 28th, 2021
Shuwen Li

Shuwen Li

Shuwen Li (BS neuroscience ’20) recently made donations to the University of Iowa Department of Biology and the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center Student Fund. “It’s a way to show my appreciation. I also want to contribute to the Hawkeye community as a proud member,” Li reflects on her decision to give back to her alma mater. 

Growing up in Xiamen, Fujian, China, Li developed a strong interest in chemistry, biology, and psychology in high school. However, she chose to major in business when entering college in China because she thought it would provide a better career perspective in the future. 

As soon as Li started her freshman year in college, she realized a business degree was not what she wanted. In order to pursue her real passion, Li decided to transfer to a university in the U.S.

“The UI was one of the schools that I submitted my application to. I knew the UI had a prestigious program in psychology. The UI’s neuroscience major was highly ranked as well, which was a field of study I was getting more interested in,” says Li.  Li was admitted to the UI and started her study in the fall of 2018, majoring in neuroscience. “Looking back, I feel fortunate that I made the right decision for myself. I am grateful that the UI accepted me.” 

While moving to a new country, starting at a new school, and changing into a new major, Li still hoped to graduate from college within four years. It was a stressful transition for her. To cope with stress, Li decided to get more involved on campus through activities outside of the classroom. “I attended many events organized by different Asian student organizations. Every event was fantastic, and I was truly impressed by the organizers. This is why I made a donation to the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center Student Fund,” says Li. “As an Asian, I hope our voice can be heard and our culture can be appreciated by more people.”

Li also participated in research while she was on campus. She worked in the Aaron Boes Laboratory for two years, focusing on using lesion mapping to study neurological disorders and the study of non-invasive brain stimulation. In her last semester, Li joined Dr. Chun-Fang Wu’s research team in the UI Department of Biology. “I appreciate both experiences, which provided me with an opportunity to enhance my analytical and data processing skills. I was able to learn how research projects were structured and carried out, and more importantly, how to think like a scientist. My principal investigators were very supportive; everyone else I met through my undergraduate research was friendly and willing to go out of their way to help me,” Li reflects. Her positive research experiences led to her recent donation to the Department of Biology. 

With help from her research professors, Li landed a job as a research technician at Washington University in St. Louis after she graduated from the UI in December 2020. “I work for a newly established lab that investigates the underlying mechanism of fast-acting antidepressants. For my future career development, I plan to apply for graduate programs in neuroscience after my current job, and eventually find a research scientist position in academia doing basic or translational research in the related field,” says Li.

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