Li (Emily) Liu, associate professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been named a fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering program—ELATE at Drexel—a professional development program for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

ELATE at Drexel aims to increase and sustain the number and impact of academic leaders in STEM fields through a one-year fellowship that provides executive education, leadership coaching, and networking and mentoring activities.

The 2018-19 class of fellows includes 18 women faculty from 16 different institutions across the United States and Canada. They are leaders in biotechnology, chemistry, engineering, and health science. Liu is the first professor from Rensselaer to take part in the program, which was created in 2012.

A physicist and nuclear engineer, Liu focuses her research on solving high-impact problems associated with energy and the environment through fundamental investigation into the structure-function relationship of materials. For this purpose she is developing a variety of analytical, experimental, and computational tools based on neutron, X-ray, and light scattering, as well as condensed matter theories.

“My research targets a fundamental problem: How do we link nanoscale observations with macroscale phenomena,” said Liu. “In our lab, we utilize laws from physics combined with experiments and simulations to explore this question. The answers we find will be very beneficial for designing and modifying new nano- or macroscale materials, as well as biological or chemical functions.”

In 2017, Liu was awarded an Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is also the recipient of a Faculty Development Grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and numerous teaching and research awards, including the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teaching Award, the School of Engineering Teaching Award, the School of Engineering Research Excellence Award for a Junior Faculty Member, and the Cozzarelli Prize in Engineering and Applied Sciences from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Liu earned her bachelor’s degree at Peking University and her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received the Manson Benedict Fellowship, the highest honor for excellence in academic performance and professional promise in nuclear science and engineering.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 86 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 18 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as 6 National Medal of Technology winners, 5 National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to   


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