ChBE doctoral candidate recognized for his contributions to Lehigh’s engineering graduate student community

Like any PhD student, Myeongyeon Lee has limited free time. But the opportunity to do something he’d never done before—serve as Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s Annual Graduate Student Symposium in 2023—was too enticing to turn down.

“I’d never organized an event,” says Lee, who is a fourth-year doctoral student researching data-driven strategies for advancing high-performance organic field-effect transistors in the ChBE department. “It felt like an interesting challenge to me.”

Lee’s efforts, which included inviting presenters, scheduling, and relocating the symposium from its traditional Mountaintop campus location to the Asa Packer campus, ultimately helped him garner the 2024 Lehigh Graduate Engineering Leadership and Service Award. The award recognizes a graduate student who has shown exemplary commitment, leadership and service and whose efforts have made a significant contribution to graduate student life. Faculty, staff, and students (both undergrad and graduate) are invited to nominate.

 Dr. Gerard Baillely from P&G presents at the ChBE symposium“Myeongyeon excels in his research endeavors, and has also demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to the Lehigh ChBE and broader campus community,” says Lee’s advisor, Elsa Reichmanis, professor and Carl Robert Anderson Chair in Chemical Engineering. Reichmanis notes that Lee launched a “journal club” for grad students during the pandemic “to build interpersonal interactions and awareness of the breadth and impact of ongoing research in the department.” And his vision to hold the ChBE symposium in HST, Lehigh's Health Science and Technology building, pictured at right, she says, showcased Lehigh’s state-of-the-art facilities while publicizing the “vibrant research taking place across the college.”

Lee, a first-generation college student from South Korea, says he was drawn to Lehigh because of the favorable student-to-teacher ratio: “I was looking for a university where I could interact regularly with my professors and get the guidance I needed in the lab and with my future career choices, and that’s exactly what I’ve had throughout my PhD program.”

He says the award came as a happy surprise, and he is quick to acknowledge the students and professors who helped him organize the symposium. 

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he says. 

The experience gave him greater insight into what goes into the preparation for such academic events, and going forward, he plans to acknowledge the organizers and thank them for their time. And while he’s now focused on wrapping up his own PhD program by summer 2025, he is more than willing to share what he’s learned with whomever takes the helm on this year’s symposium. 

“It is a lot of work, but if you manage your time, and reach out for help, it’s worth it,” he says. “There are so many people at Lehigh that are willing to help. All you have to do is ask.”

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