When deciding what to study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Jin Wang remembers it boils down to two choices: chemical engineering or electrical engineering. But his father, himself a mechanical engineer, gave him the following influential advice: If you really want to contribute, choose chemical engineering. He never looked back.
That mentorship saw him through two doctoral programs—the first at Tsinghua University, where he studied protein dissociation and spent his time in the lab doing experimental work, and the second at the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on his work on control theory. concentrated. and developed his acumen for computing work while working full time for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
“When I told my advisor that I got this full-time job offer working in industry, he was like, ‘Oh no! You want to stay in school, get your degree, do a postdoc. and want to work at a university,” she recalled. “The offer was too good to pass up, but I took his advice, and I kept publishing, I kept doing research, and then after I graduated, I realized my advisor was right.”
The Walt and Virginia Woltz Professor of Chemical Engineering then landed at Auburn University in 2006 and plunged into academia full-time. His research portfolio in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has flourished over the past 16 years, with an innovative focus on process identification and control, systems biology and biochemical engineering. Projects led by Wang include 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 all over the world. 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 is the recipient of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award and the Auburn Engineering Council Senior Faculty Research Award, among other awards.
And for her latest achievement, Wang was named as the 2022 recipient of the Creative Research and Scholarship Award. Auburn’s highest research honor for faculty recognizes 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 himself as a research leader and innovator through his efforts in process control (the focus of his doctoral research) and systems biology initiated at Auburn. His research certainly are quite innovative, and they have paved a way for our College of Engineering into an entirely new and important area of synthetic biology,” said Mario Eden, who joined the T. and said Billy Carroll McMillan Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “Dr. Wang is one of a very select group of researchers who were trained as computational scientists and then set up their own experimental lab. Most computational researchers, including myself, expand into new research areas. While doing so rely on collaboration with experimentalists.
“While extremely challenging, Dr. Wang has successfully made this transition and has now established a remarkably strong track record and reputation in the fields of systems biology and biochemical engineering. In fact, he is now being sought out for collaborations by the most prestigious researchers in the field, a clear testament to the impact of his work.
Wang’s research has received funding from a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Transportation, and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
As one of the few female faculty to receive the Creative Research and Scholarship Award, Wang hopes she is setting a positive example for female students at Auburn.
“I am really thrilled. It is recognition not only for me, but for my students past and present,” she said. “And if you look at the past, not many female researchers have received this award, so I Hopefully I can be an inspiration to others.”