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Research Associate Spotlight: Meet Fai Xue


FaiXueName: Fei Xue

Hometown: Hebei Province, China

Education: Doctorate in materials science and engineering (minor in computational science) from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Nanjing University.

Research Project: Mechanical degradation modeling of materials used in energy applications.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

I love cooking, bicycling and playing tennis. Before COVID-19, I commuted by bike every weekday.

What is the most impactful or valuable thing that you have learned from your experience so far at NETL?

The most valuable skill I have learned during the education program is how to do my research independently and communicate with my colleagues effectively. NETL has a cooperative culture, and I am learning a lot from my mentor and colleagues.

How will you be able to use what you’ve learned as you continue your education or enter the workforce?

Through NETL’s internship program administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), I have become an independent researcher with an expanded knowledge of energy-related materials. This experience will help prepare me to find a staff position at a U.S. national lab.

How do you think your experience at NETL will help you make an impact in the energy sector?

Through the program, I have become familiar with sciences and technologies related to structural materials used in power plants. I will use the knowledge to do more research with the goal of extending the service life of energy-related devices.

How has your opinion of the energy industry changed or been reinforced throughout the course of your experience at NETL?

Before I came to NETL, I expected that the energy industry only focuses on the practical technologies related to power plants. However, I have found that the research scope of NETL is much broader than I initially thought. The energy industry is also interested in fundamental science and is trying to reform traditional combustion technologies through innovations such as solid-state fuel cells.

Can you elaborate upon your experiences while at NETL?

I have worked closely with world-class researchers and scientists, including Tianle Cheng, Yinkai Lei and Casey Carney. Also, I have used NETL’s one-of-a-kind equipment and facilities, including the Joule 2.0 supercomputer.

I have authored or co-authored papers, presentations and other materials. One paper was published in Oxidation of Metals and one paper is in print with Materials Performance. Another paper has been submitted to a peer review journal. Also, I gave a presentation titled “Stress Analysis in the Steam-Side Oxide of Boiler Tubes” at a 2020 U.S.-U.K. workshop on fossil energy R&D.

Please share some information about what ignited your early interest in science. Was it a parent, a teacher, your participation in a science competition or some other experience?

My early interest in science stemmed from my mother. She tends to think about fundamental mechanisms when she sees something. I built my curiosity about the underlying physics of natural phenomena by following her rational thinking habits. Also, her patience taught me to persevere when facing difficulties during my pursuit of science..

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