Biology graduate Jinlong Han (M.S. ’17) accomplished so much in his two years at IPFW. He received eight awards, most notably first place in the graduate poster competition at the International Congress of Entomology. Han has given five research presentations, three in Indiana and two out of state, and he won six grants totaling an impressive $5,000. Finally, Han co-authored papers published in the academic journals, Frontiers in Plant Science and Journal of Economic Entomology.
Han traces his interest in plant biology and pathology to where he grew up—a rural mountain village in China. Most of the villagers grew rice, and as Han shared “I had my first biology lessons from my father, sitting right beside the rice patty field.” He decided to pursue a degree in biology, specifically researching plants, diseases, and insects.
“After completing my bachelor’s degree in China, I had an opportunity to discuss the research projects with my current advisor, Dr. Punya Nachappa [associate professor, biology]. She researches the underlying interaction between plant, pathogen and insect vector. I was fascinated by her research topics and decided to study under her supervision at IPFW. I chose to study plant disease systems to eliminate or reduce world hunger and starvation.”
Attending school in the United States was not always easy. Han, like many international students, struggled with the language barrier: “It took me longer to read the same textbook chapter than other native speakers. However, reading books and articles every day plus speaking to my English-speaking friends helped me so much to improve my listening and speaking. In the first year of my graduate study, I took advantage of an English Therapy Program offered by IPFW to help correct my pronunciation. After putting in lots of effort, I am now very confident with my English skills.”
In discussing the myriad of people who helped him, Han noted the importance of Nachappa: “I could not thank her enough for her strong support and trust throughout my master’s study. Beyond her extraordinary teaching and training, she is a mentor and friend. She inspired me to become a well-trained scientist and a better, more confident person. Without her help, I would not have been able to achieve so much during my graduate study at IPFW.”
Han’s time and work at IPFW paved a path to a Ph.D. program in the Plant Pathology Department at North Carolina State University. He plans to continue researching the interaction between plants, pathogens, and insects, and would like to “make the world better by being a good teacher, scientist, and mentor.” Good luck, Han!