Cen grew up in Shanghai, China. In 2012, she received her bachelor's degree from Shanghai University. She pursued her Ph.D in Prof. Xie’s group in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Her doctoral research focused on the B-H and C-H functionalization ofo-carborane. Cen later stayed in CUHK for another year as research associate and joined the Swager Lab in 2018 November where she is now investigating methane sensor based on gold nanoparticles.