Xinxin Ding, ‘14

Hometown:  Beijing, China

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I was first impressed by WPI’s recognition of the academic achievements of international students, and I was really encouraged by the presidential scholarship provided to me. I was also attracted by the diverse programs provided by WPI, like the first-year project, the IQP, the humanities project, and the MQP. I think WPI offers great opportunities for students not only to learn in class, but also to solve problems in the real world.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
In most of my classes, I have had the opportunity to be part of team projects. Rather than just receiving knowledge from my professors and textbooks in class, I am asked to think about the operations and plans on my own, which allows me to practice using what I have learned to solve problems.

During my time at WPI, I have benefitted greatly from my work with teams. In my chemistry and biology classes, I’ve had several chances to do group projects and presentations, experiences which have made me fall in love with sharing ideas and gaining inspirations from others; I’ve learned the importance of considering multiple opinions to make a proper decision or plan.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice provides innumerous opportunities for students to apply what they learn in class, and it encourages them to learn from one another and from the real world. I really appreciate WPI’s writing center, Math and Science Help (MASH) center, and Peer-Learning Assistant (PLA) positions in which students can practice, communicate, and learn with other students.

WPI’s diverse programs and projects encourage students to use what they learn to solve real-world problems and learn from life. At WPI, students have a lot of chances to work and learn on campus, off campus, and even overseas. Such opportunities help improve their abilities, broaden their horizons, and stimulate their passion to achieve their dreams.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
I have really enjoyed all the biology classes I have taken; I especially appreciate the classes taught by my advisor, Professor Luis Vidali. I am also very thankful for my advisor, Professor Elizabeth Ryder, who has given me invaluable suggestions that helped me get to know and realize the great potential of computational biology and bioinformatics.

What are your research projects?
I am currently working on a project titled “Isolation of Conditional Loss-of-growth Mutants in the moss Physcomitrella patens and Morphological Characterization of Their Growth” to help to understand how plants grow, specifically how genes direct cell growth and cell division.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?
I want to apply for graduate projects related to plant genetics, plant bioinformatics, or plant biophysics. I am really interested in using genetics, bioinformatics, and biophysics to decipher how plants function; combining these approaches makes it possible to understand the biological phenomena quantitatively by building mathematical models.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • Chinese Student Association
  • Dumpling Program of Chinese Student Association

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • The Herb Beall General Chemistry Award, WPI, 2010-2011
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar, Class of 2014, WP


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