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Guobi Li ’18

What is your hometown?

Fushun City, Liaoning Province, China

What are you studying at CWRU?


Why did you choose to study this subject?

I was born and grew up in a city that used to be the chemical center of China but stagnated since the last technology revolution. I dream that I will be capable to use chemistry to make our world a better place to live in. In addition, many people who have strongly influenced me are either working as chemistry professors or serving for some excellent chemical corporations.

What is your favorite class/faculty member, and why?

My favorite classes have been CHEM 414 and CHEM 431, both by Dr. John Protasiewicz. CHEM 414 is an illuminating course about some main group elements and transitional elements. Dr. Protasiewicz makes the lectures easy to follow – not only the theories that are conveyed, but also the thinking methods of chemistry. CHEM 431 is a great course about inorganic lab. It is a wonderful combination of theory and lab, and various inorganic lab techniques and skills are taught practically. In both courses, the latest chemical news nowadays and some milestones of chemistry in history are taught and discussed.

Why did you choose CWRU?

CWRU is recognized as having a world-class chemistry department; the unique and inspiring spirit to explore chemistry; the extensive collaborations between faculty and top labs, commercial partners, and government organizations; and the success of its alumni. There is an interesting story when I first heard CWRU. When I was an undergraduate in China, the husband of my favorite professor was admitted to CWRU about 20 years ago, but failed to complete his study in CWRU for personal reasons and he regards it as a life-pity.

What do you like best about CWRU?

Firstly, the professors here are amazing, like Dr. Protasiewicz, Dr. Gray and Dr. Crespo. They are amazing at their fields, and they always encourage students to be all we want to be. Think beyond the possible! In addition, the staff here are very friendly and eager to help, like Kelsey, the graduate coordinator in our department, and Sylvia in the Career Center. These two factors make the international students like me feel warm and welcomed. Moreover, my peers from the U.S. and other countries are easy to get along with, and they share their experience and teach me their cultures.

What do you like best about living in Cleveland?

I am a big fan of the NBA! I have gone to Quicken Loans Arena several times, including NBA Finals Game 4 in 2017. I am also very interested in music. I played the Erhu (Chinese violin) for more than 10 years. I have gone to the Cleveland Orchestra several times, and I really enjoy the piano and classical music there.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

The memory is still fresh how challenging and overwhelming everything was when I just started my life here, and I once thought to quit the program. However, the professors in my department encouraged me a lot and told me to never give up. My life changed positively when I met my advisor, Dr. Protasiewicz. It was a Friday evening in December 2016, and the whole group was invited to his house to celebrate Christmas, which was a watershed moment in my life. Ever since, he trained me thoroughly from a brand new starter to a Ph.D. student at present, which resembles a father who trains his son how to walk all the way from a baby, only in chemistry and life in the U.S. In July 2017, my parents came all the way from China and it was their first time in the U.S. They met Dr. Protasiewicz in the office. I translated during the meeting and it is the most memorable moment so far. My parents are happy with my choice in CWRU. Actually, the past year and a half at CWRU have exposed me to challenges and have shown me the determination necessary to overcome adversity. It has been a coming-of-age process, becoming more mature, both personally and professionally. This process, along with exceptional mentoring from my advisor, professors and peers, has shaped me from an individual with little previous experience, into an individual equipped with the tools necessary to excel and succeed both in attaining a PhD in chemistry and life. My advisor Dr. Protasiewicz shared a motto with me: A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

Firstly, a campus job. As an international student, I worked as a housekeeper for 121 Fitness Center in Summer 2017. It was my first campus job and it provided me a better opportunity to learn more about American society and culture. In addition, I joined an international friendship program in September 2017 and met my American family, Tracey and Karen. Tracey is a professor in business school in CWRU and Karen is working as a public defender. They treat me very well and make me feel like home although I am 7,000 miles away from my hometown. Thirdly, I worked as a volunteer for Cleveland Asian Festival. I communicated with people from all over the world and shared my cultures as well as my unique experience here.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Playing the Erhu, listening to piano music, history and multi-cultural communications.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

I adjusted to new life at CWRU although I was nobody but a brand new starter at the very beginning.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Shaping myself into someone who has a great vision and skills both in chemistry and life, who has the determination and courage to overcome the hardships and challenges, who has the ability knowing both Chinese and American cultures very well.

Page last modified: March 9, 2018