Romance, rackets and research

A pair of Mizzou researchers found true love on the tennis court as students. Now they are teammates in the laboratory and in life.

  • Historic photo of Chung-Ho Lin and Hsinyeh Hsieh on the tennis courts with friends
    Photo courtesy Chung-Ho Lin.

Feb. 13, 2023
Contact: Marcus Wilkins,

Once upon a fateful day in 1992, a pair of tennis enthusiasts hit the court familiar with the inescapable nature of “love.” After all, one player must lose the opening point — immediately resulting in the sport’s scorekeeping synonym for zero.

But for Chung-Ho Lin and Hsinyeh Hsieh, then a pair of 20-somethings from Taiwan embarking on wholly separate academic journeys at the University of Missouri, their momentous meeting was a match made in heaven.

Lin, at the time a junior in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Hsieh, a PhD candidate in the School of Medicine’s pathology program, enjoyed letting off steam on the courts formerly located between Virginia and College avenues (where the Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence residence halls now stand).

“I remember he was very talkative, chatting to everyone nonstop,” said Hsieh, poking fun at her one-time opponent. “I was looking to make friends, but I was quiet.”

“She must have been impressed by my tennis skills,” Lin said. “I knew she was a PhD student who was quite intelligent. I was aiming high!”

Regular racket rendezvous eventually led to meetups around campus and Columbia — where the pair also shared a passion for music and the outdoors. Now the married couple will celebrate their silver (25th) wedding anniversary in December.

In addition to a partnership on the court and in life, Hsieh and Lin have also realized an alliance in the laboratory — most recently of Marc Johnson, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the School of Medicine — where they have been analyzing wastewater to monitor and pinpoint COVID-19 outbreaks. Lin is a research professor of agroforestry bioremediation and Hsieh is a senior research scientist — both in the School of Natural Resources.

“She is a perfectionist, always paying attention to order and detail, whereas I am not always that way,” said Lin of his wife. “And she is tolerant of me. She puts up with me and all of my ways.”

As scientists and tennis players, Lin and Hsieh know all about contact, reactions and timing. For example, Hsieh and Lin lived a few blocks away from each other in Taipei before moving to the U.S. — but didn’t meet until coming to CoMo. Hsieh was even in the same high school class as Lin’s cousin.

Alas, this matrimony was meant to be Mizzou Made.

“What I love most about him is his wild spirit — in research and in everything,” Hsieh said. “He always thinks anything is possible, and he never gives up.

“Oh, and he is good looking.”

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