Yiyang Liu, from Luoyang, China, always knew he wanted to study chemistry, following in the footsteps of his chemist uncle.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Tianjin University of Technology and his master’s degree from Arizona State University, he wanted to take his research to an even higher level.

He came to UNCG’s Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) because of its outstanding research capability and resources, and because it was part of the Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor, one of 16 National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) sites chosen by the National Science Foundation.

Liu’s research concerns supercapacitors, a battery substitute that could power many electronics we use every day – from small hand-held devices to laptops to electric cars. His work at JSNN could someday lead to more eco-friendly, sustainable and safe energy products.

While earning his doctorate, Liu gained teaching experience through the UNCG School of Education’s Transforming Teaching Through Technology program. He assisted an eighth-grade science class at Kernersville Middle School with a renewable energy project, which was a uniquely memorable experience for him.

“When I looked at the dioramas the students made,” recalls Liu, “I knew I had achieved something important.”

Liu’s approach to his work shares a common theme with photography, one of his favorite hobbies. He enjoys observing the world from different perspectives and angles, and his ability to change his perspective leads him to both high-discovery research and inspiring photographs.

His favorite campus event? UNCG’s International Festival, commonly known as I-Fest.

“I’ve never seen so many cultures in one place,” says Liu.

But what Liu remembers most about his time at UNCG and JSNN is the small-class environment and the mentorship.

“I appreciate Dr. Jianjun Wei, my adviser, for his unwavering support from the very beginning of my time as a PhD student,” he says. “He is my mentor both in research and in life.”



Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Gilliard, University Communications