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Office of the Vice President for Research

  • Dr. Chen Li receives the Governor's Award on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chen Li wins Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research

Mechanical engineering associate professor, Chen Li, is having a great year. In January, he was selected by the Office of the Vice President for Research for recognition as a Breakthrough Star. In February, he began work on a major renewal grant from the Office of Navy Research to continue his work developing thermal efficient electric ships, along with principal investigator Roger Dougal and three co-investigators.

This week, Dr. Li received the Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research from Governor Henry McMaster at a ceremony in the South Carolina Statehouse. This prestigious award is given each year “to a gifted young researcher (only those individuals who have completed no more than 12 years beyond the Ph.D.) who has demonstrated the potential for major contributions to his or her discipline.”

It is a great pleasure, but not a surprise, that Dr. Chen Li’s outstanding research is being recognized with a 2017 Governor’s Award. 

— Prakash Nagarkatti

Looking at Dr. Li’s accomplishments, it almost seems like this description was written specifically for him. After joining USC in 2009, Dr. Li quickly established his internationally recognized, state-of-the-art Micro/Nanoscale Transport Lab, where he leads a team of 15 researchers in the study of two-phase heat and flow physics. Here, he has trained four postdoctoral scholars, 11 Ph.D. students, a master’s student, six undergrads and a number of high school students in his eight years at USC. He has also published numerous refereed journal articles, landed more than $5 million in extramural grant funding and earned the 2016 Outstanding Early Career Award, bestowed each year to only one researcher by the International Conference of Nano, Micro and Minichannels.

Mechanical Engineering Department Chair Jamil Khan, who nominated Dr. Li for the Governor’s Award, described his research impact. “As a young investigator, Professor Li has played a stronger role in contributing to the economy of South Carolina and the nation than most of his peers. His 10 patent applications (with five already granted) are strong testimony of his impact now and into the future. His research projects have improved U.S. security interests such as developing thermal efficient electric warships for the U.S. Navy and addressing pressing global energy and environment issues by developing a sustainable solution to harvest and utilize abundant waste heat and intermittent solar heat, cost-effective desalination technology for freshwater production from sea water and dry cooling technology to enable greener power generation.”

USC Vice President for Research, Prakash Nagarkatti, echoed Dr. Khan’s high praise, noting, “It is a great pleasure, but not a surprise, that Dr. Chen Li’s outstanding research is being recognized with a 2017 Governor’s Award. In only eight years, Dr. Li has made enormous contributions to USC’s research community, helping to build strength in three of our research focus areas: energy, advanced materials, and environment and sustainability. I look forward to seeing the growing impact his work will have in the state of South Carolina, around the world, and, thanks to his NASA-funded research into space-station energy generation technologies, even in outer space.”


25 May 2017

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