• Matt_s Swirls

Minchao Zhang

I received my PhD from PSE in 2017. My thesis work, under the guidance of Professors Tom McCarthy and Al Crosby, focused on structure-property relationships of polymeric materials. As a co-advised student, I had the chance to learn aspects of physics, chemistry and engineering. It was not easy to incorporate completely different research topics into a thesis, but it ended up working out very nicely. I was very lucky to have Tom and Al’s support, which was important to success in my graduate schooling. They guided me to become an independent researcher. They taught me how to enjoy my work and my life. I didn’t realize how much I learned from them until I left Amherst and started my career in Hong Kong as a R&D researcher in a non-profit organization. I am gradually realizing that every bit of knowledge I accumulated at PSE is interconnected. This has given me confidence to initiate creative ideas and allowed me to solve some existing problems.

Before I went to the US, I had never left my hometown, Tianjin, China, where I received my B.S. in Chemistry and M.S. in Polymer Chemistry and Physics from Nankai University. I still remember the day I left home and being nervous but excited about graduate school life in the US. After I met my classmates and the PSE faculty, all the nerves went away. I knew that the following five years would be great. I made lots of friends from all over the world. Life in Amherst was wonderful. I grew up a lot during that five and half years and the experience brought the most precious memories of my life.  

I still remember the answer that I gave when I was asked about my choice to come to Amherst: I said, “PSE is one of the top programs in polymer science and engineering. Collaborations in this department make research more efficient.” After I came here, I knew I made a right decision. Amherst is such a cute, quiet and beautiful town where you can do research and also enjoy life. If asked the same question today, the answer will be the same. To study in PSE at UMass was the best decision I’ve made.