Chemical engineering professor Jin Wang wins Auburn’s top research award | Trending

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When deciding what to study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Jin Wang remembers narrowing it down to two options: chemical engineering or electrical engineering. But his father, a mechanical engineer himself, gave him the following influential advice: If you really want to make a contribution, choose chemical engineering. She never looked back.

This advice led her through two doctoral programs: the first at Tsinghua University, where she studied protein separation and spent her time in the lab doing experimental work, and a second at the University of Texas at Austin , where he focused his work on control theory. and developed his acumen for computer work while working full-time for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

“When I told my advisor that I had this full-time job offer to work in the industry, he said, ‘Oh no! You want to stay in school, get your degree, do a postdoc and work at the university,’” he recalled. “The offer was too good to pass up, but I took his advice and kept publishing, kept researching, and after I graduated, I realized my advisor was right.”

The Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor of Chemical Engineering landed at Auburn University in 2006 and threw himself into academia full time. With an innovative focus on process identification and control, systems biology and biochemical engineering, his research portfolio at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has flourished over the past 16 years. Projects under Wang’s leadership have included studies on smart manufacturing, biogas conversion, and the process of turning organic agricultural waste into bioplastics.

He has 76 peer-reviewed journal publications, 14 patents issued by the US Patent and Trade Office, and has given numerous invited conference presentations worldwide. Earlier this year, Wang was named a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors, the first Auburn faculty member to achieve that rank. He has received numerous other awards, including the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Associated Universities of Oak Ridge and the Auburn Engineering Council’s Senior Faculty Research Award.

And for her latest achievement, Wang was named the 2022 recipient of the Creative Scholarship and Research Award. Auburn’s highest research honor for faculty recognizes those faculty members who have distinguished themselves through research, scholarly work, and creative contributions. Wang’s award is in the science, biomedical sciences, engineering and agriculture category.

“Dr. Wang has clearly established herself as a research leader and innovator through her novel process control research (the focus of her doctoral research) and the systems biology efforts she has initiated while at Auburn. Their research is certainly quite groundbreaking and has blazed a trail in an entirely new and important area of ​​synthetic biology for our college of engineering,” said Mario Eden, the Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillan Professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry. Engineering. “Dr. Wang is one of a very select group of researchers who trained as computational scientists and then established their own experimental laboratory. Most computational researchers, including myself , rely on collaboration with experimentalists when expanding into new areas of research.

“Although extremely challenging, Dr. Wang has successfully made this transition and has now established an enviably strong track record and reputation in the field of systems biology and biochemical engineering. In fact, she is now being sought out for collaborations by the most eminent researchers in the field, which is a clear testament to the impact her work is having.”

Wang’s research has received funding from a wide variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation of the USA and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

As one of the few female faculty to receive the Creative Scholarship and Research Award, Wang hopes she is setting a positive example for Auburn’s female students.

“I’m really excited. It’s a validation, not only for me, but for my students past and present,” he said. “And if you look at the past, not many female researchers have received this award, so I hope I can be an encouragement to others.”

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