ISE welcomes new faculty member Yumeng Li


Madeleine Hubbard

Professor Yumeng Li grew up in a small town in the Hunan province of China. Since then, Li has lived in many different places across the United States as a student and teacher. 

Li says, “My dream when I was in elementary school was to be a scientist.” When Li got into her STEM-focused classes in high school, she decided to study engineering in college. Explaining her decision, Li says engineers “can deal with more practical problems.”

Li went on to study at Huazong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. There, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. For her PhD, Li studied Aerospace Engineering at Virginia Tech. Li says, “For my PhD work, we were working with nanocomposites. We tried to develop and analyze nanocomposite with high stiffness-to-weight ratio through multiscale simulations with emphasis on the interface effects.”

Nanocomposites are a wide-ranging class of microstructures made of multiple types of materials. Because of large quantity of interfacial area relative to the volume of the material, nanocomposites have significant potential to offer dramatic improvements of material properties. Nanocomposite materials have broad applications in areas such as aerospace structural materials, food packaging, and the medical industry.

For Li’s post doctorate, she conducted her research at Vanderbilt University. There, Li says she focused “on developing multifunctional simulation framework to studying fatigue creep phenomena in alloys.” In order to do this, Li had to develop a microstructure-informed and experimentally verified simulation model. She says the goal was “to try to provide better predictions of the lifetime of alloys under their service conditions.” 

After conducting her research at Vanderbilt, Li went on to work in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Wichita State University. After teaching for one year, Li came to work at ISE. Li worked at WSU for one year before coming to join ISE.   

As a student, Li says she “was so fortunate to have really good teachers.” Li says, “I am really motivated by my PhD advisor. He set a good example for me.”

Working as a professor, Li says she enjoys how “you can work on really exciting, front edge research topics and also work with brilliant young minds.” She also relishes passing on knowledge to students and “helping them have their own career paths.”

For Li, the most difficult part of being a professor is being selective on research topics. She says, “There are so many interesting things you want to work on, but you need to focus on a few things and then go on to the others.”

This fall, Li is teaching SE 498, Numerical Methods in Engineering. Li says, “It’s quite exciting to join UIUC. We have many brilliant young students here and I am excited to work with them.” 

Li is planning on continuing her research at Illinois. Li says “my research field is in computational material science, more specifically, multiscale simulation of multifunctional materials and design.” In the future, Li says she hopes to “develop several courses that will talk about multiscale simulation.”

Li met her husband while she was a graduate student at an engineering conference in Florida. Li’s husband, Professor Pingfeng Wang, began working at Illinois this fall as well. He is teaching SE 450, or Decision Analysis 1.  

For Further Reading:
Li, Y. and Seidel, G.D., Modelling Simul. Mater. Sci. Eng., 22 025023, 2014
Li, Y. and Seidel, G.D., Computational Materials Science, 107 (2015) 216–234 225, 2015


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