Zhao Qin

Assistant Professor

Civil and Environmental Engineering

151L Link Hall




  • Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013.
  • M.Eng., Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2008.
  • B.Eng., Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2006.

Research interests:

  • Development of advanced computational modeling methods for designing new materials of advanced material functions.
  • Bottom-up modeling of the multi-scale structure-mechanics relationship of nano- and bio-materials. Fundamental understanding of the material behaviors of biological and synthetic polymeric materials from the most molecular scale to macroscopic length scale.
  • Learn from nature and discover bio-inspired ideas to create and design materials with innovative material functions.
  • Prototyping, optimization and characterization of synthetic composite materials with multiple advanced material functions, for efficient usage of engineering materials.

Current Research:

My research focuses on developing advanced computational modeling methods, using them to study fundamental mechanical properties of biological materials and applying the knowledge to design new materials of advanced mechanical functions. I have a broad background in mechanics and structure of materials, with specific training and expertise in the multi-scale structure-mechanics relationship in biological materials. My research focuses on the structure and mechanics insight of general natural materials as many of them, such as mussel glue, insect wings and membranes, have fascinating mechanical and biological properties built up from simple basic molecular building blocks. I am thus strongly motivated to develop tools that enable us to learn from nature to make material innovations more efficient. I have developed a multi-scale high-throughput computational modeling method that enables me to study materials from the most fundamental molecular scale to macroscopic length scale. I have applied the tool to the investigations of several different biological materials and have revealed new mechanisms hidden in their complex structures. Some of the findings contribute to fundamental understandings of diseases that take place from the molecular scale; others contribute to designs and prototyping of synthetic composite materials with multiple advanced material functions. I have developed principles to help to optimize the material functions through structures, making it feasible to rationally design the mechanics and longevity of composite materials, leading to better performance with less energetic and environmental cost than conventional engineering materials for industrial applications.

Courses Taught:

  • CEE 325 – Mechanics of Materials
  • CEE 676 – Multiscale Material Modeling and Simulations


  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award, NSF, May 2022
  • 2021 Fellowship to 25th International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ICTAM 2020+1) from USNC/TAM.
  • 2020 Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) Grant, Syracuse University
  • Best paper award in Journal of Applied Mechanics (ASME) for the paper “Bioinspired Graphene Nanogut” among papers published during 2012-2013
  • Outstanding Paper Award, ASME Global Congress on Nano Engineering for Medicine and Biology, Boston, MA, 2013
  • Chinese Government Award For Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad, NY, 2011
  • Best Paper Award, International Journal of Applied Mechanics (Imperial College Press) 2010
  • Schoettler Graduate Fellowship, Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT, 2010
  • SAMSUNG Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 2007
  • 2nd Rank National Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 2003

Recent Publications:

DA Qureshi, S Goffredo, Y Kim, Y Han, M Guo, S Ryu, Z Qin (2022) Why mussel byssal plaques are tiny yet strong in attachment, Matter, 5, 710-724

S Liu, K Duan, J Feng, L Li, X Wang, Y Hu, Z Qin (2022), The design of strongly bonded nanoarchitected carbon materials for high specific strength and modulus, Carbon, 195, 387-394

R Xu, L Yang, Z Qin (2022), Design, manufacture, and testing of customized sterilizable respirator, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 131, 105248

L Yang, D Park, Z Qin (2021), Material Function of Mycelium Based Bio-composite: A Review, Frontiers in Materials, 8, 374

J Cui, M Jiang, M Nicola, A Masic, Z Qin (2021), Multiscale understanding in fracture resistance of bamboo skin, Extreme Mechanics Letters, 49, 101480

J-K Qin, C Sui, Z Qin, J Wu, H Guo, L Zhen, C-Y Xu, Y Chai, C Wang, X He, P D Ye, J Lou (2021), Mechanical anisotropy in two-dimensional selenium atomic layers, Nano Letters, 21, 8043-8050

J. L. Kessler, G. Kang, Z. Qin, H. Kang, F. G. Whitby, T. E. Cheatham, C. P. Hill, Y. Li, and S. Michael Yu (2021), Peptoid Residues Make Diverse, Hyperstable Collagen Triple-Helices, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 143, 29, 10910–10919

J Ni, S. Lin, Z. Qin, D. Veysset, X. Liu, Y. Sun, A.J. Hsieh, R. Radovitzky, K.A. Nelson, X. Zhao (2021), Strong Fatigue-Resistant Nanofibrous Hydrogels Inspired by Lobster Underbelly, Matter, 4, 1919–1934.

Q Huang, T Deng, W Xu, CK Yoon, Z Qin, Y Lin, Tengfei Li, Y. Yang, M Shen, S M. Thon, J B. Khurgin, D H. Gracias (2020), Solvent Responsive Self‐Folding of 3D Photosensitive Graphene Architectures, Adv. Intell. Syst., 2020, 2000195

K Tanuj Sapra, Z Qin, A Dubrovsky-Gaupp, U Aebi, D J Müller, M J Buehler, O Medalia (2020), Nonlinear mechanics of lamin filaments and the meshwork topology build an emergent nuclear lamina, Nature Communications, 11, 6205

X Guo, L Zhao, Z Qin, L Wu, A Shehu, Y Ye (2020), Interpretable Deep Graph Generation with Node-Edge Co-Disentanglement, Proceedings of the 26th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery & Data Mining, 1697-1707

JL Zitnay, GS Jung, AH Lin, Z Qin, Y Li, SM Yu, MJ Buehler, JA Weiss (2020), Accumulation of collagen molecular unfolding is the mechanism of cyclic fatigue damage and failure in collagenous tissues, Science Advances, 6, eaba2795

G Grezzana, HC Loh, Z Qin, MJ Buehler, A Masic, F Libonati, Probing the Role of Bone Lamellar Patterns through Collagen Microarchitecture Mapping, Numerical Modeling, and 3D‐Printing (2020), Advanced Engineering Materials, 2000387

J Cui, Z Qin, A Masic, MJ Buehler, Multiscale structural insights of load bearing bamboo: A computational modeling approach (2020), Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 107, 103743

Z Qin, Q Yu, MJ Buehler, Machine learning model for fast prediction of the natural frequencies of protein molecules (2020), RSC Advances, 10, 16607-16615

B Azimi, M. Milazzo, A. Lazzeri, S. Berrettini, M.J. Uddin, Z. Qin, M.J. Buehler, S. Danti, Electrospinning piezoelectric fibers for biocompatible devices (2020), Advanced Healthcare Materials, 9, 1901287

Z Qin, L Wu, H Sun, S Huo, T Ma, E Lim, P-Y Chen, B Marelli, M J Buehler (2020), Artificial intelligence method to design and fold alpha-helix structural proteins from the primary amino acid sequence, Extreme Mechanics Letters, 36, 100652

J Liu, S Lin, X Liu, Z Qin, Y Yang, J Zang, and X Zhao (2020), Fatigue-resistant Adhesion of Hydrogels, Nature Communications, 11, 1071

J Wu, Z Qin, L Qu, H Zhang, F Deng, M Guo (2019), Natural hydrogel in American lobster: a soft armour with high toughness and strength, Acta Biomaterialia, Vol 88, pp. 102-110

Y Han, M-Y Li, G-S Jung, M A. Marsalis, Z Qin, M J. Buehler, L-J Li, D A. Muller (2018), Sub-Nanometer Channels Embedded in Two-Dimensional Materials, Nature Materials, Vol. 17, pp 129-133

Z Qin, G S Jung, M J Kang, M J. Buehler (2017), The mechanics and design of light-weight three-dimensional graphene assembly, Science Advances, Vol. 3, paper #: e1601536