Qifan grew up in China and received her B.S. in chemistry from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2013. She did undergraduate research on colorimetric sensor array for homemade explosives (HME) detection with Professor Kenneth Suslick at UIUC. After graduation, she worked in the same lab for another year on developing a solvatochromic colorimetric sensor array. In 2014, she entered MIT as a graduate student in the inorganic division.