BERC China Focus Coffee Chats

BERC China Focus is pleased to have hosted monthly Coffee Chats with researchers and professionals in the field of energy and environment this semester. In this series of three Coffee Chats, students discussed green technologies, research experiences, and career decisions with Yaosen Tian from LBNL, Professor Baoxia Mi from UC Berkeley’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept., as well as Junyi Du and Sue Chau from the Chinese American Environmental Professionals Association (CAEPA). If you are interested in energy-/environment- related careers, graduate school, or research life, please check out this blog and stay tuned to find out about our Coffee Chats next semester!

Coffee Chat with Yaosen Tian from LBNL, Sep. 30th, @La Val’s Pizza

Coffee Chat with Yaosen Tian from LBNL, Sep. 30th, @La Val’s Pizza

Yaosen Tian is a Ph.D. student in Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley & Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). He graduated from University of Science and Technology Beijing in China, majoring in Materials Physics. His current research is on ceramic solid-state conductors in Na-ion batteries, which is not only safer compared to conventional batteries, but also opens up the possibility of novel high-capacity electrodes and lower costs in production.

In a casual setting, Yaosen talked about his research on sodium-ion batteries, experiences as a graduate student in LBNL, and his opinions on how to live an undergraduate life fully. On research, he is very fond of his project: using sodium rather than lithium significantly reduces the cost of battery production in the long run because of the abundance of sodium in the environment; and ceramic solid-state conductors can help avoid safety issues like explosions associated with low flash points. He also encouraged undergraduate students to explore different areas because, as he said, “Even though you can’t always find what really interests you, at least you will know what doesn’t.”

Coffee Chat with Professor Mi from UCB’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept., Oct. 18th, @The Musical Offering & Cafe

Coffee Chat with Professor Mi from UCB’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept., Oct. 18th, @The Musical Offering & Cafe

Professor Baoxia Mi in Civil & Environmental Engineering Program at Berkeley directs research of the Membrane Innovation Lab and has taught classes focused on sustainability in engineering. She studies physicochemical processes with an emphasis on advanced membrane processes and nanotechnology to address some of the most challenging issues in sustainable water supply (desalination, drinking water purification, wastewater reuse), renewable energy production, and public health protection.

Professor Mi introduced how the membranes work to intercept desired molecules, and production, innovation and application of membranes. She explained that new materials have drastically improved the separation ability and reduced costs of production, allowing membrane technologies be used in many fields including waste water treatment, medical applications and water security. She also highlighted the cooperative researches on membrane technologies between China and the U.S.

Coffee Chat with Sue Chau and Junyi Du from CAEPA, Oct. 29th, @Cafe Blue Door

Coffee Chat with Sue Chau and Junyi Du from CAEPA, Oct. 29th, @Cafe Blue Door

Chinese American Environmental Professionals Association (CAEPA) is a non-profit organization of professionals, scientists and researchers who are concerned about improving the environment.  The former president of CAEPA, Sue Chau now serves as an Environmental Project Manager for San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). With more than 20 years of experience working in environmental and land use planning, she specializes in water resources projects, including water/wastewater treatment, storage, conveyance, and recycled water projects. Our other speaker, Junyi Du received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Nanchang University in China and continued to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at University of Oklahoma. His research areas primarily include the geochemistry of halogen elements, drinking-water treatment, the development of sustainable adsorbents, and the life cycle analysis for environmental products and processes. He is also interested in solving emerging environmental and energy problems in China and East Africa.

Sue and Junyi kindly shared their experiences in working and researching in the field of environmental engineering. With over 20 years of working experience, Sue gave valuable advice on career planning: “do not be scared to reach out to people, often times it is your connections that lead you to the next stage in life.” Junyi on the other hand shared his research experiences on drinking-water treatment, the intersection of government regulation and scientific implementation, and how environmental studies are becoming more and more crucial in developing countries. Both of them also shared their opinions on the field of water treatment, waste management and environmental consulting.

It was a great honor for BERC China Focus to be able to build connections between students and people in the field of energy and environment. By discussing relevant issues in depth with experienced researchers and professionals, students are able to learn more about the applicable aspects of advanced technologies and have a clearer idea about their career paths. We are looking forward to meeting with more amazing people in the upcoming year!