A male graduate student smiles on a mountaintop.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Yifeng Qi

Categories: Research, Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Yifeng Qi describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Yifeng Qi has been at MIT for over four and half years, and he came to Cambridge after finishing his undergrad in China. His research with Professor Bin Zhang‘s group lies in cross-disciplinary fields from theoretical Chemistry to computational Biophysics. Specifically, using statistical physics-based modeling and data-driven molecular simulations, his research aims to enable de novo predictions on 3D human genome organization and mechanistic understanding of biological processes regulated by chromosome structures and dynamics. Aside from a series of independent works, in collaboration with local Boston scientists from Harvard, Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, his research helped unravel important mechanisms of tumorigenesis for colorectal cancer from the genome topology perspective.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Yifeng shares the item from his childhood that will seem strange to future generations, the activity he’d turn into an Olympic sport, the food he finds delicious despite being a pain to eat, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    I came from an undergrad of Chemical Physics and knew little about biology when I started my PhD. It was not on the plan in the first place but I got very interested in the opportunity of applying physics in biological research after chatting with my current advisor, Bin, and decided to jump out of the comfort zone and start something new. I always feel great about understanding complex chemical and biological questions from fundamental physics.
  2. Where is the most beautiful place near where you live?
    The Charles River – especially when doing 6am rowing practice or morning exercise and watching the sunrise on the river.
  3. Which is your favorite city in the world?
    Vancouver, among the cities I have been to.
  4. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Book reading or calligraphy after work on weekdays. Enjoying a dinner followed by a movie at AMC with friends on weekends.
  5. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    Every trip with my family.
  6. What is your favorite book of all time?
    “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas and “A short history of Chinese Philosophy” by Feng, Youlan.
  7. What movie title best describes your life?
    The Pursuit of Happiness.
  8. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting sick of it?
    A few- LOTR, The Dark Knight, 12 Angry Men, Interstellar, Spirited Away I am picky to any new ones but once I really appreciate the one I am committed to it and like to watch old ones over and over again.
  9. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
    Horror movies. Still couldn’t get the logic of watching a movie just to horrify ourselves…
  10. If you received a salary to follow whatever passion you wanted to, what would you do?
    Outdoors and backpacking.
  11. What did you think was going to be amazing but turned out to be horrible?
    Ski in the rain. It was out of the plan and I definitely was not expecting it to be amazing. When it started to rain I thought it should be fine and it could be a unique experience. And yes, it was uniquely horrible…
  12. What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to?
    Overnight trekking and ice climbing.
  13. What brand are you most loyal to?
    The North face. They have Alex Honnold, so there is no other way.
  14. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
    I love sports but apparently none of them would work, so I guess – making an after-work fired rice bowl? 🙂
  15. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
    Kobe Bryant. I need to let him know how much he had inspired me and also to persuade him not to take that helicopter on that day 🙁
  16. What food is delicious, but a pain to eat?
  17. If you owned a restaurant, what kind of food would it serve?
    Authentic traditional Chinese cuisine.
  18. What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
    3.5-inch Floppy disk.
  19. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
    Giant advancement in supercomputing and application to in silico drug discovery.
  20. What job doesn’t exist now but will exist in the future?
    Commercial spacecraft pilot to Mars.

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