From Synthesis to Reality

Jade Bing ’13, a Baccalaureate Honors student and McNair scholar, proves there’s no limit to what she can achieve.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Since Jade Bing ’13 was a child she has embodied the notion of exceeding expectations.

At the age of 7, Bing was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, a disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. As a result, she experienced prolonged paralysis in her legs and arms for most of her childhood, but with determination and years of physical therapy, Bing exceeded her doctor’s and her own expectations when she secured a spot on Rider’s Division I Field Hockey team during her freshman year at Rider.

Bing encountered yet another roadblock, however, when her family’s Metuchen, N.J., home was destroyed in a fire during her first semester at Rider. Without insurance, and a mother who is disabled and unable to work, Bing had to forgo her athletic career in order to work full-time as a retail manager, while continuing to go to school full-time.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s made me grow stronger,” she said. “I firmly believe that when God closes a door, he opens windows.”

Bing, a Biochemistry major with minors in Mathematics and Spanish, quickly found that Rider was brimming with opportunities if she was willing to seek them out with initiative and a desire to succeed. Through the support of The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the staff of the Student Support Services and her faculty mentors, Bing has been able to craft her dream of becoming a medicinal chemist. Upon graduating from Rider, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and complete her post-doctoral research in natural product synthesis. 

Bing’s interest in chemistry evolved while working for her father’s contracting company.

“I wanted to understand why I should apply oil-based primers before painting wood, but apply latex-based primers when painting drywall, or why porcelain tiles are harder to bond to than ceramic tiles,” she said “I found myself investigating, equating, and questioning – I was curious, so I conferred with the veteran contractors alongside me.”

Later, an organic chemistry class with Dr. Danielle Jacobs, assistant professor of Chemistry, reaffirmed Bing’s aspirations to pursue a career in biochemistry. That connection enabled her to begin independent research in Jacob’s lab during her junior year. Currently, Bing is working on a synthesis project that involves majorynolide and majorenolide, two natural products that were originally extracted from a tree in Brazil, and exhibit cytotoxic activities in human tumor cells.

“Conducting scientific research has allowed me to counteract the ever-present financial and life stressors,” explained Bing, a student in the Baccalaureate Honors Program. “When exploring synthetic organic chemistry one encounters twists, U-turns, missteps, and often unpredictable results that mirror those of the hardships and burdens that life throws at you.”

After receiving an e-mail about the McNair Program, a TRIO program offered at Rider, Bing decided to apply and was accepted in May 2011. As a McNair scholar, she has received valuable information about graduate schools and GRE preparation, and essential financial support.

“My parents didn’t go to college. Even though they are hard-working, intelligent people, they can’t give you the insight on applying to graduate school,” Bing said. “The whole experience has been fantastic. It definitely increases my chances of getting into graduate school.”

In less than a month, Bing has had the opportunity to present her independent research at two professional conferences.

The McNair program covered the costs for her to travel to and stay at the 23rd Annual Oklahoma State University Research Symposium and Research Scholar Conference, from February 22 to 24. She also received The Society of Toxicology’s Minority Undergraduate Education Program Award to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology in San Francisco, Calif., from March 11 to 15. Dr. Bruce Burnham, associate professor of Chemistry, recommended that she apply for the award and also attended the conference with Bing. The McNair program provides the costs for her to visit graduate schools during her stay in California, as well.

As a McNair scholar, Bing said she has demonstrated to her professors that she is a determined and talented scientist. She has been able to return the favor by helping others. Through the Student Success Center, she is a supplemental instructor for Introduction to Chemical Systems and a peer tutor for Organic Chemistry, Principles of Chemistry and Spanish. During the summer she mentored underprivileged high school students from the Trenton area interested in conducting scholarly research as part of the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED. Most recently, she was appointed by Dr. Kelly Bidle, professor of Biology, as the volunteer team leader for the Lawrence Intermediate Science Fair in February.

Ultimately, Bing hopes to become a mentor to other students by sharing the one valuable lesson she has learned from her experiences:

“You don’t have to be,” she explained, “what you are expected to be.”

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At Rider, Jade Bing '13 has been able to craft her dream of becoming a medicinal chemist.