Assistant Professor Yanfei Xu of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has been selected to serve as one of the UMass Amherst ADVANCE Faculty Fellows for 2020-2021. Xu and other ADVANCE Faculty Fellows will focus on Inclusion and Equity Amid COVID-19.
As the ADVANCE Program describes itself, “Through the power of collaboration, UMass ADVANCE transforms the campus by cultivating faculty equity, inclusion, and success. ADVANCE provides the resources, recognition, and relationship building that are critical to equitable and successful collaboration in the 21st century academy. UMass ADVANCE is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is advancing women faculty, including women faculty of color, in science and engineering.”
As an ADVANCE Faculty Fellow, Xu will be advocating for the inclusion, equity, diversity, and well-being of the UMASS community. She will help publicize upcoming ADVANCE events, meet with faculty being recruited, and encourage department members to apply for collaborative research seed grants and ADVANCE Mutual Mentoring Team grants. During the pandemic, she will help to tackle COVID-19 challenges and protect the UMASS community health while helping students make the most of their educational experience.
“I am very enthusiastic about being an 2020-2021 ADVANCE Faculty Fellow at UMass Amherst,” says Xu. “The ADVANCE Faculty Program is characterized by diversity, equity, inclusion, collaboration, and unwavering commitment to excellence.”
Xu adds that “As a woman faculty, I am committed to creating an inclusive education environment for all underrepresented groups and to increasing diversity in STEM. Inclusive environments allow us to come together, to innovate, to collaborate, to build a better campus, and ultimately make a better world. Moreover, during the pandemic, we, Advance Faculty Fellows, strive to build solutions to the COVID-19 crisis and to tackle complex challenges across the campus.”
Xu heads the Advanced Polymer Engineering @ Xu (APEX) laboratory, an interdisciplinary research group of mechanical engineers,materials scientists, chemists, and physicists.
As Xu explains about her lab, “Our mission is to advance the fundamental understanding of heat and charge transport in polymers, to create polymers with improved thermal conductivity and electrical insulation for better micro-electronic cooling, and to create others with improved thermal and electrical conductivity for better energy storage and conversion, as well as biomedical temperature imaging and higher solar cell efficiency.”
Before joining UMASS, Xu was a postdoctoral associate in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was active in pursuit of turning polymer insulators into heat conductors from 2013 until 2018.
From 2011 to 2013, Xu pursued so-called “GENIUS research,” as funded by the European Commission, on printable organic electronics. She also secured Marie-Curie Fellowships with major European institutions and companies, including the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany, Humboldt University in Germany, the University of Cambridge in England, the Italian National Research Council, the Université de Strasbourg in France, and the headquarters of the German chemical company BASF SE.
Xu received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Nankai University in China, where she was awarded “Top 100 Most Influential Scientific Researchers in P. R. China (among all fields).” (September 2020)