Graduate Student Spotlight: Qifan Zhang

Danielle Randall
September 19, 2017

Originally from China, Qifan Zhang began her graduate studies at MIT in 2014. Today, as a member of Professor Timothy Manning Swager's group, Qifan’s research focus on novel dynamic complex emulsions for sensing applications. Her projects involve synthesis of stimuli responsive surfactant and interfacial chemistry at oil/water interface. One of the application uses carbohydrate-lectin binding interaction at the emulation droplet interface for bacteria detection. She is also working on functionalizing proteins at the oil/water interface to make the droplets as artificial cells. 

As the subject of September 2017's Graduate Student Spotlight, Qifan reveals her irrational fear, the movie title that best describes her life, the most compelling documentary she's ever seen, and more!

1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I like to work on projects that has a potential to be commercialized. The pathogen detection work I have been working on could have a great impact and it is very exciting.

2. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in?
Disneyland, and I want to be a fairy.

3. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
The Foods that Make Billions.

4. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Learn different languages.

5. If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
Inception by Christopher Nolan.

6. What would you choose for your last meal?
Hot pot.

7. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Elsa from Frozen.

8. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
The trip to Alaska for northern lights (Glacier was cool, too).

9. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
Ellen DeGeneres.

10. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
A museum of ancient musical instruments.

11. What are some small things that make your day better?
Music, coffee and puppies.

12. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Musicals.

13. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
Chocolates. (I don’t like sweet things in general.)

14. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
Shoes!

15. What movie title best describes your life?
The Kite Runner (2007)

16. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
A house.

17. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
The Lion King.

18. What is your favorite four-legged creature?
Giraffes.

19. What irrational fear do you have?
Worms…

20. What is special about the place you grew up?
It's a city with great food.

Many thanks to Qifan for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!