UA Engineering Ph.D. Student Wins Competitive Award

UA Materials Science Ph.D. candidate Xuyang "Rhett" Zhou sits in front of the LEAP5000XS, which was used in his M&M 2017 Student Scholar award in quantifying solute segregation in nanocrystalline alloys

UA Materials Science Ph.D. candidate Xuyang “Rhett” Zhou sits in front of the LEAP5000XS, which was used in his M&M 2017 Student Scholar award in quantifying solute segregation in nanocrystalline alloys

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Xuyang “Rhett” Zhou, a Ph.D. student in materials science from Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, was selected to receive a Microscopy & Microanalysis Student Scholar Award given by the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) and the Microanalysis Society (MAS).

“This is an important award for this student, perhaps the top award for graduate students in this field,” said David E. Nikles, director of the Central Analytical Facility at UA.

As an award recipient, Zhou will receive complimentary student registration for the 2017 M&M Meeting and financial support of up to $1,000 to cover any expenses to attend the meeting.

The meeting will be held at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, from Aug. 6-10. Zhou will be presented the award during the Plenary Session on Aug. 7. He will also be recognized at the MAS Members’ Meeting and the MAS Business Meeting on Aug. 9.

Zhou applied for the award by submitting his paper “Linking Experimental Solute Segregation Specificity in Nanocrystalline Alloys to Computational Prediction.”

“This student made use of the instruments in the CAF to carry out part of this research,” Nikles said. “The CAF is very proud of his accomplishment. It shows that a highly motivated, intelligent student from UA can do high quality research that can compete with the best from across the country.”

Papers by more than 180 students were reviewed and judged based on the quality of the content. Dr. Greg Thompson, a UA metallurgical and materials engineering professor, said this is a highly competitive contest where only one in every five applicants are recognized.

“Mr. Zhou’s research is very cutting edge because he is linking two different microscopy techniques – TEM and atom probe – to give him both high spatial resolution with high chemical sensitivity,” Thompson said. “The strategic investment of UA to acquire the newest generation atom probe, the first such microscope at an academic institution in the western hemisphere, to perform these types of experiments has placed UA at the forefront of materials discovery evident by the type of work our students, like Rhett, are able to do.”

All award winners, which are comprised of students, postdoctoral researchers, and professional technical staff members, will present their papers at the meeting.

“What is particularly exciting is that my microscopy work involves atom probe tomography and this year, the society is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the atom probe’s introduction,” Zhou said.

Zhou received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, Liaoning, China. His research has been in thin films, and he plans to graduate with his doctorate in December 2017.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.