COVID-19 Update: LPS staff are available online, in person, or by phone at (215) 898-7326. More Info & Resources >
close alert box button

Qin Zhang

PhD candidate, University of Calgary


The University of Pennsylvania, Master of Science in Applied Geosciences, ’17
The University of Illinois, Bachelor of Science in Geology and Environmental Science, ’15

“I want to make a change in our global energy crisis,” shares Qin Zhang, a Master of Science in Applied Geosciences (MSAG) student graduating in 2017. After moving from China to Illinois for her undergraduate degree, Qin came to Penn in 2015 excited by the program’s hands-on and professional focus. “We have rich recourses here. The department is small, so the professor to student ratio is high. You can always talk to someone in MSAG.”

As a full-time student, Qin took full advantage of the opportunities and networks available at Penn. In June 2016, the department sponsored Qin to go on a research trip to Puerto Rico. There, she studied clay mineralogy and looked into a community whose plant life was suffering because one hillside wasn’t responding to irrigation.

“At the beginning of my studies, I went to Program Director Yvette Bordeaux because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my capstone research project. I knew a lot about clay mineralogy and wanted to use that knowledge on something,” Qin recalls, “She directed me to Associate Professor David Vann. We spent two hours talking and brainstorming, and he told me about this site he was working on in Puerto Rico. From there, everything fell into place.”

Learning from her peers in the MSAG program has also been helpful in Qin’s professional growth. “MSAG has a lot of students who are currently working in the field. Those kinds connections are a very good resource because they let me know what I’m facing once I step out of school—what working is like or what kind of job I could have.”

When Qin isn’t getting her hands dirty in her fieldwork, she likes to spend her time volunteering with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), hiking and catching up with her classmates and professors at the Earth & Environmental Science coffee hours.

And as for her future, “I’ve always wanted to be an exploration geologist. My goal is to work for an engineering or energy company to further develop technology or find more resources.”

Academic affiliation updated in August 2021.

A degree for your professional aspirations

See how our curriculum prepares you for action in the field.

Looking for financial assistance?

Get details on financial aid, including student loans, tuition benefits, and external scholarships.

Our social media world