Alumni Spotlight: Jian Qin


Jian Qin is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Qin was a post-doctoral student at Penn State, doing research in the lab of Scott Milner, the William H. Joyce Chair Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Among his many achievements are a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Arthur K. Doolittle Award, given for an outstanding paper presented to the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division of the American Chemical Society.

What is your area of expertise?

I work on theoretical polymer physics. We develop statistical models or perform molecular simulations to interrogate the structure-property relation of polymeric materials.

What do you like the most about your work as a professor? 

I enjoy two aspects of my career the most. The first is the interaction with students in a classroom or in a lab, especially when they ask penetrating questions or initiate stimulating discussions. The second is the freedom of exploring new areas and learning new topics.

What sort of positive impact does your research potentially have on society? 

The researchers in my group provide the molecular scale information or correlation needed to understand the rheological or functional properties of polymers. This detailed knowledge could help improve the performance of known materials or could help design new, novel materials. 

Qin during a visit to Yellowstone National Park

How did your Penn State chemical engineering education prepare you for your career in academia? 

I was mostly interacting with the researchers, such as Enrique Gomez and Ralph Colby, professors of chemical engineering, and working on polymers, which helped to broaden my perspective greatly. And I was primarily influenced by my advisor, Professor Milner. He has taught me numerous things that are important for developing my career in academia, including a working knowledge on polymer rheology, handling the multiple tasks efficiently, scripting with Mathematica effectively and most importantly, overcoming the barrier of writing.

What is one of your fondest memories of Penn State?

The excursions to the Arboretum with an ice cream cone from the Berkey Creamery.

What do you like to do for fun?

Reading and hiking.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume?

My favorite concept is entropy. I wasted so much spare time calculating it for specific examples or rationalizing my daily experience using it.


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Jamie Oberdick

Jian Qin

Jian Qin



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