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Meet recent graduate Yi Li
MSE student Yi Li graduated in May with her Ph.D. We caught up with her to follow her journey at Georgia Tech and see what the future holds for her.
How did you choose MSE at Georgia Tech?
I had been interested in materials science since I was a kid. I always hung out in my mom’s machine shop; she was a mechanical engineer that owned a machine shop and eventually became a professor. I was astonished at how different raw materials could be machined into value-added parts by various processing methods. Ever since then, I was interested in the properties of materials and wanted to become a material engineer when I grew up.
In 2016, Professor Naresh Thadhani came to Zhejiang University, at which I was an M.S. student at the time, to give a recruiting talk, and luckily, I was there. After that talk, I did some more research on Georgia Tech and learned that Tech is a top-ranked research university that cultivates talented engineers and researchers, and MSE is one of their best schools! They offer various fellowships and scholarships, focus on skill development, and provide plenty of opportunities to engage with industry -- all of which were attractive to me because I wanted to work in industry when I graduated.
Tell us a little about your research at Georgia Tech.
I joined Associate Professor Mark Losego’s group in 2016 as an international student from China. My Ph.D. research focused on using atomic layer deposition to apply a sub-nanometer coating to various cellulosic substrates. Since this coating is applied using gaseous vapors, it coats all of the fibers in the cellulose. When heated, this atomic-scale coating attracts organic molecules that are naturally present in the atmosphere. These additional organic molecules are what then makes the cellulose water repellent. By selectively heating the coated cellulose’s surface, only the regions that get heated become water repellent, while the unheated regions are able to rapidly absorb water in a specified pattern. The potential application of this research could be used to mix or separate various biological mixtures useful for medical applications, although other applications areas including chemical separations, environmental detection, and flexible electronics are also of interest.
What did you like most about MSE? I really enjoyed the great communication and cooperation amongst the different research groups in MSE, the open sharing of scientific information and equipment, the self-organized student groups (e.g. SPN, GSAG…) and great networking with industry alumni.
What advice would you like to pass on to new students?
(1) Don’t be scared to ask for help.
(2) Join different student groups.
(3) Attend MSE activities; become part of the community!
What does the future hold for you?
I’m proud to be a Georgia Tech alumna. Yellow Jackets are contributing themselves in every corner of the world. Now I’m working at Intel as a Module Engineer. I always feel excited to see another Yellow Jacket. The future for every Georgia Tech student is bright. While I am just getting started, I look forward to my role in improving electronic packaging technology.