Dr. Dian He, who received his PhD in Chemistry from The Ohio State University in 2008, is originally from China and has been interested in Chemsitry from a young age. In middle school, when Dr. He was first introduced to Chemistry, he thought it was simply “cool”. His parents helped nurture his interest in science and learning; Dr. He’s mother was a middle school teacher, and his father, an engineer. In short, one taught him how to deal with students and the other taught him how to solve problems scientifically. After following his love of science through high school and his undergraduate career, he graduated from Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University in 1999, he then went on to earn his MS from Marshall University in 2002.
When He was studying at Marshall University, he eagerly applied to OSU, hoping his experiences would land him a spot – and they did! He originally applied to OSU when he still lived in China but was denied. As an international student from China, He stated, “Ohio State University provided me the opportunity to study and to grow, both academically and personally.” The first thing that attracted Dr. He here was the academic reputation of the Chemistry Department. On top of a great education, Dr. He mentioned that the vibrant city was also a pull: “I came by for an on campus interview and fell in love with the city of Columbus.”
In addition, Dr. he emphasized that the most important skill he gained from his PhD experience is that it taught him how to “think”. Here, he learned the invaluable skill of how to ask the right questions and how to not accept anything as granted. One of the faculty who helped him develop this style of critical thinking is our very own Dr. Jon Parquette. Not only was he a great mentor and advisor, but He was also impressed how Dr. Parquette was able to balance life and work.
This inspiration came in handy when Dr. He experienced his first semester of teaching. Before his first Teaching Assistantship, he had no idea how fun teaching was until instructing the organic chemistry labs for non-science majors. Post-graduation, Dr. He has continued pursuing his love of teaching and currently works as an Assistant Professor at Holy Family University, a small teaching university at the northeast edge of Philadelphia. It was his TA experience plus the training in the Preparing Future Faculty program at OSU that prepared him greatly for his current role. As an Assistant professor, his main job requirement is teaching General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry to freshman and sophomores. Dr. He says that his favorite part of the job is “the interaction with students, especially when they tell me their achievements after graduation.” Dr. He has now taught numerous undergraduate courses, and while this may seem trivial for people in the research-intensive institution, he values these interactions with the students the most. On top of his dedicated engagement in the classroom, Dr. He also has had a few poster presentations at the National ACS meetings.
Looking towards the future, Professor He’s goals are to be promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, and would like to be working in the same place. Although he will be older, and his students won’t, his teaching philosophy will remain the same: “Chemistry is hard. If you can do the hard work and be passionate about chemistry, go for it.” Dian resides with his two children and wife (also an OSU alum!) near Philadelphia.