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Graduate Student Profile
Ying Li
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Ying Li

Hometown: Xiangtan, Hunan, China
Undergraduate Study: Sichuan University, B.E. Polymer Materials and Engineering, 2007
Graduate Study: Zhejiang University, M.S. Chemistry, 2010
Degree(s) Sought: Ph.D.
Department: Materials Science & Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Linda Schadler and Richard Siegel
Expected year of graduation: 2014

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

My doctoral dissertation is focused on developing novel surface/interface modification strategies for interfacial enhancement and functionalization of metal oxide nanocrystal filled polymer nanocomposites. More specifically, my research utilizes bimodal surface ligand engineering to control and tune the dispersion and distribution of zirconia or titania nanoparticles and organic phosphor molecules within epoxy or silicone matrices. The main application of my research currently is to prepare high refractive index, non-scattering, and color-tuning light-emitting diode (LED) encapsulant material. I love my research because I’m helping creating a new generation of multifunctional LED packaging materials with the potential for dramatic energy efficiency improvement and low-cost, large-scale manufacturing.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I’ve been doing yoga for years which always brings me mental clarity and renewed energy.  Also, I love hiking because I love being out in nature and feeling the impact of the natural world around me. My other interests include playing basketball and DIY crafts.

What made you decide to attend Rensselaer?

As one of the most senior and reputable departments in the United States, Rensselaer's Department of Materials Science and Engineering provides graduate students with a well-designed curriculum, outstanding research facilities, and opportunities to have one-on-one interactions with dedicated faculty. The most important factor attracted me to ultimately enroll at RPI are my advisors’ fascinating research projects. I’m really excited that our research on understanding and tuning the nanofiller/matrix interface can contribute to so many social needs by creating and developing polymer nanocomposites with novel mechanical, dielectric, optical, and biomedical properties.

What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?

Besides being able to conduct cutting-edge research in my specific field of study, another great thing about being part of the Graduate Community at RPI is the opportunity for interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, and industry-university collaborations. For example, our research group has been working in close collaboration with faculty scientists at the top of their fields from University of South Carolina and Columbia University, and their inspiring suggestions and experimental results have been incredibly helpful for my research. In addition, I’ve been really enjoying the various events the Graduate Council puts together each semester, such as Grad Movie Night, Hockey Night, Grad Grill-Out, and Grad Student Forum.

What would you tell a prospective student about choosing Rensselaer?

If you’re an energetic person who has a passion for art, science, or technology, and likes the sound of the slogan “Why not change the world?,” then RPI is the right place for you! Rensselaer provides all students with a rich opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research projects and access to state-of-the-art instrumentation for both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research. Also, all students here at Rensselaer enjoy easy access to a variety of resources such as Center for Career & Professional Development and Center for Communication Practices, which goes a long way towards providing the knowledge and skills necessary for a productive, independent research career. Last but not least, if location matters to you, living in Troy could be a great and inspiring experience: cost of living is very reasonable; walking down the street to nearby bars or restaurants would never be a problem; beautiful, historic buildings in downtown Troy are quite attractive; skiing, hiking and a lot of other outdoor activities are close by.

What are your plans following graduation?

I’m currently looking for an engineering job in industry, and I’m also open to a research job in academia.


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