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Meet Hanfei Wang!

Barrios Lab (Medicinal Chemistry)


Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from, what degree(s) do you have? What are your interests?

Hi! I’m Hanfei Wang, from just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. My undergraduate degree was in chemistry and economics, and I’m interested in protein phosphatases and ways to developing chemical tools to study them.


Why did you choose the U for graduate school?

I chose the U first and foremost because of the wide variety of research opportunities offered to me, in part because of the affordability relative to stipend, and in part on the recommendation of a friend who was already in the program. I also very much liked my visit here and felt like I would like living in Salt Lake City.


Tell me about your lab. What do you study?

The Barrios lab studies protein phosphatases and develops chemical tools, especially peptides, to study the activity of these phosphatases. We are currently working discovering inhibitors to the protein histidine phosphatase PHPT1, and developing peptides that will be good substrates for the enzyme.


Why did you choose to join your lab?

I chose to join the lab because I found the research to be interesting, because I get along well with Brandon (the other grad student in the lab), and because Amy is a caring mentor.


What do you like the most about living in Salt Lake City?

The best aspects of Salt Lake City are that you see beautiful scenery every day when you walk outside as a city surrounded by mountains, and everything is in close proximity and easy to access.


What do you like the least?

Salt Lake City is a bit smaller and isolated as compared to Atlanta, and consequently there is not quite as much variety in terms of entertainment and food, but it is still quite good (comparing it to Atlanta is setting a high bar).


What do you like most about being a graduate student?

The best part, and the most important part in my opinion, of being a graduate student, is being able to make new discoveries, and being able to satisfy your curiosity about a scientific topic that you are interested in. It’s also very nice to be around people who share those passions, and to have a supportive cohort with you; it is far more focused than undergrad but in a good way in that your peers are all in the same boat as you and thus are more understanding and supportive of you.


What types of things do you do outside of class and lab?

I like playing board games, working out, and reading.


What does a typical weekday look like for you?

I would typically go to lab, do my experiments (or other commitments, such as classes or meetings) for the day, go home, make dinner, and depending on if it is the school year or not, work on homework/study or watch TV/a movie and read.


What does a typical weekend look like for you?

I usually do my shopping on the weekends, will go to the gym (the one in the university), clean my home if necessary, and do some fun activities – often board games and/or have a meal with friends.


What advice would you give to someone applying and interviewing for graduate school?

Make sure that there are labs whose research you are interested in, that you will be part of a supportive community, and that you can answer, in your written statements and in your interviews, why you like a particular school, what has prepared you for a research-intensive program, and what areas (broadly) of research you are interested in.

Last Updated: 9/28/21