A ‘New Song’ for Doctoral Student Chuhan Jiang丨New Westlake Students

03, 2022

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
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The first time many Westlakers noticed the name of Chuhan Jiang, a new Ph.D. student in the sixth cohort at Westlake University, was on a paper program for the 2022 Orientation Party. That night, she was the only person listed on the program for a solo performance, singing “I Belong to Me”.

Music has been her inseparable companion since she began learning vocal music at the age of 7. She also spent years immersed in the world of bel canto, studying with singers at the Chongqing Grand Theater, the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, and even the National Song and Dance Theater.

Like many in the world of music, Jiang has never been satisfied doing just one thing. She can sing and dance. And during her three years in junior high school, she even learned the piano.  While studying at Duke Kunshan University as an undergraduate student, Jiang joined the Kunqu Opera Club to learn this traditional form of Chinese opera native to Kunshan. At the same time, Jiang also taught herself the guitar and teamed up with her teachers and classmates in a small jazz band. "We would play music together every Tuesday,” she recalled. “Everyone would form a circle, and I was usually in charge of guitar and singing. When I was approaching graduation, I also participated in the creation of original musicals."

Many life paths lay before Jiang.

She could have followed the advice of her vocal music teacher to become a professional bel canto singer.

Other possibilities also emerged during her first two years of undergraduate education at Duke Kunshan University, where there were no boundaries dividing the arts, sciences, or other majors. "I took the philosophy of artificial intelligence, Shanghai history, American literature, and environmental sciences. Unfortunately I didn't take the photography class, and the economics class was often full," she remembered.

After spending two years learning about various disciplines, she followed her  passion to major in biology, devoting herself to scientific research with the hope of studying for a Ph.D.

While applying at Westlake, Jiang also sent applications to Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California, and Princeton University. When she received an offer from Westlake University after passing the second round of interviews for doctoral candidates, Johns Hopkins and USC had also notified her that she got in.

But in Jiang’s heart, she had already decided on her path. "Between studying for a doctorate and a master’s degree, I still prefer to get a Ph.D."

The international educational atmosphere at Westlake University also attracted her. Plus, Prof. Shang Cai, a principal investigator with the School of Life Sciences, has a research direction that matches her interests - cell biology and breast disease research.

After careful consideration, Jiang accepted the offer from Westlake University. In May of this year, as soon as she completed her undergraduate coursework, she skipped the graduation ceremony to come straight to Hangzhou as a visiting student in Cai’s laboratory.

While she has officially been a Ph.D. student for only more than a month and is still in the first round of rotations in Cai’s laboratory, Jiang is very happy with her busy and fulfilling life at Westlake. "Prof. Cai’s laboratory has a very good atmosphere. Everyone is very friendly, helping each other, and we have strong self-motivation. Prof. Cai is also very nice. He is generally in the laboratory, so we can easily find him; he said that even if there is no data, we can come to him to chat about ideas. You can also find opportunities to communicate with principal investigators and classmates in other laboratories, and learn more about the work that they are doing," she explained.

At Westlake, this young ambitious woman can be a professional researcher in the field of life sciences as well as a free-spirited musician and artist. This is the “new song” of Jiang’s life.