Qian Chen's directory photo.

Qian Chen

Associate Professor

Primary Affiliation

Artificial Intelligence for Materials


Status Part-time Faculty

Home Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Phone 244-7386


Address 3257 Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews Avenue

  • Biography

    Qian Chen is currently an associate professor and Racheff Scholar in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She did her postdoc with professor Paul Alivisatos at UC Berkeley under Miller Fellowship and joined the faculty of UIUC in 2015.  She is a member of the artificial intelligence for materials group, and the molecular science and engineering theme at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.


    • B.S., chemistry, Peking University, 2007

    • Ph.D., materials science and engineering, University of Wisconsin, 2012

  • Honors
    • 2022: Hanwha-Total Energies IUPAC Young Scientist Award

    • 2022: Dean's Award for Excellence In Research for Associate Professor, The Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    • 2021: Racheff faculty Scholar, The Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    • 2020: Dean's Award for Excellence in Research for Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, UIUC (Feb.)

    • 2018: Unilever Award, Division of Colloid and Surface Science, American Chemical Society (Jun.)

    • 2018: The DURIP (Defense University Research Instrumentation Program) Award from department of defense (Apr.)

    • 2018: Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Feb.)

    • 2017: Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, Solid State and Materials Chemistry program, National Science Foundation (Nov.)

    • 2017: ACS Petroleum Research Foundation Doctoral New Researcher Award (Oct.)

    • 2016: Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) Award, Biophysics Program, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Oct.)

    • 2016: The SN 10 List of Scientists Making the Next Big Discoveries; Science News Magazine (one of the 10 early- and mid-career scientists, age 40 and under, selected among all science disciplines) (Sep.)

    • 2016: Distinguished Visiting Fellow, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), United Kingdom (to a distinguished professor from an overseas academic centre of excellence for up to one month in UK university to build capacity and promote collaborations) (Aug.)

    • 2016: Forbes 30 under 30 Science List, Forbes Magazine (Jan.)

    • 2015: Victor LaMer Award, Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry, American Chemical Society (Jun.)

  • Research

    Research Interests:

    • Materials for energy and the environment

    The research in Chen’s group focuses on imaging, understanding and engineering soft materials at the nanoscale, including systems such as colloidal self-assembly, protein transformation, advanced battery devices, metamaterials, and energy-efficient separation strategies. Her group has received awards based on their research work such Forbes 30 under 30 Science List (2016), AFOSR YIP award (2017), NSF CAREER award (2018), Sloan Research Fellow (2018), Unilever award in ACS (2018), Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research (2020&2022), the Hanwha-TotalEnergies IUPAC Young Scientist Award (2022), the Soft Matter lectureship (2023), the Provost's Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring (2024) and the Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award in MRS (2024).