I am from Changchun, a beautiful industrial city in northeast China. With both of my parents being professors, I grew up on a college campus and considered being a professor as my dream job. In 2014, I attained my B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Beihang University (Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics). During undergraduate studies, I received Excellent Student Scholarship for Discipline Competition 3 times, Excellent Student Scholarship for Academic Performance twice, as well as Guanghua Scholarship and AVIC Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials Scholarship. My most recent award is Santos Go Award in 2015.
In my undergraduate years, I worked on different materials systems. Under the guidance of Prof. Boming Zhang, I studied regulations of composite dielectric properties via doping and arraying metal microparticles. In Prof. Longcheng Gao’s group, we constructed a temperature-responsive block copolymer surface and achieved tunable surface wettability. I also participated in the research of hydrogel/microgel systems that are responsive to thermal,pH or stress stimuli. Gradually my interest in studying polymers built up through my courses, readings, discussions and lab work.
Why did I choose UMass PSE? PSE is a world renowned research institute famous for its pioneering studies and outstanding faculty and I chose PSE mainly based on this fame as well as advisor recommendation. However, not until I arrived in person did I realize how much I loved everything about PSE. I knew then that I had made the right choice. The interdisciplinary and cooperative atmosphere here not only makes research more efficient and diverse, but also makes us better researchers with scientific insight and collaborative minds. Also, the faculty, staff and students here are supportive of each other: they are all well-trained in the polymer field and more than happy to share knowledge and seek solutions. As an international student half a planet away from home, I find that Conte is a comfortable place with lots of nice people and Amherst is a really pleasant town with friendliness in the air.
Smart soft materials are attractive to me for their numerous possibilities in design, behavior and function, and they have a broad application prospect. I enjoy my current research project, which is to construct a sensing system using soft matter surface instabilities. It requires a better fundamental understanding of surface instability switch and new fabrication methods to integrate metallic patterns onto hydrogel substrate. In this process, I learned a lot about photolithography and responsive hydrogels.
I plan to seek a post-doctoral position after graduation and eventually become a professor. I still regard it as the best job in the world that will allow me to explore unknown sciences and inspire young minds.