• Matt_s Swirls

Jiun-Tai Chen

Associate Professor - Department of Applied Chemistry at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

In 2003, I joined PSE under the supervision of Prof. Tom Russell working on templated polymer nanostructures. After receiving my Ph.D. in the summer of 2008, I went to UT Austin with Prof. Paul Barbara as a postdoc for 2 years working on spectroscopy of conjugated polymers. I came back to Taiwan in 2010 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. 

For Taiwanese students, UMass PSE is famous for both its research and education. Therefore, I was very excited when I got the offer from UMass. At that time, I contacted Prof. Hsin-Lung Chen, another PSE alumni in Taiwan, and he gave me good pieces of advice on studying abroad.

Going to the United States was my first experience to a foreign country. At first, I was not sure about my future career: whether I would pursue a long-term career in academia or in industry. But I gradually found my real interest and passion for academia during my time at the PSE department. For three summers, I was the mentor for the RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) and REU (Research Experiences for Teachers) Programs. From these experiences, I realized that I really enjoyed teaching and mentoring students.

Another main reason is that I was inspired by my Ph.D. advisor, Tom Russell, who gave me the freedom to explore my own ideas. He also taught me how to apply creativity to my research. His ability to give vivid and amusing examples to illustrate scientific concepts is also very impressive.

Since I graduated, I have had many chances to see some of the faculty members and other alumni, especially when they attend conferences in Taiwan. There was one interesting experience during my trip to Japan in Oct 2013. After I just arrived at the Nagoya station by taking a high-speed train from Tokyo, I saw a train near the platform that would leave soon. Through one window of the train, I saw Prof. Tom McCarthy. His seat was quite close to the door, and we were able to have a ~10 sec conversion before his train took off. I then realized that the world is really small.

Meeting other PSE alumni is always fun. I look forward to seeing more PSE people some day, especially when they have a chance to visit Taiwan.