Alumni Focus: Chuan Xia

KAUST alumnus Chuan Xia received both his master's degree (M.S. '14) and Ph.D. ('18) from the University. Image courtesy of Chuan Xia.

-By David Murphy, KAUST News

KAUST alumnus Chuan Xia graduated from the University in April 2018 after obtaining his Ph.D. degree in material science and engineering. Xia, who was born in Chongqing, China, is currently conducting research as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. There, his research focuses on trying to capture CO2 and convert it into value-added chemicals and fuels using renewable electricity to achieve a carbon-neutral energy cycle.

Xia also obtained his master's degree in material science at KAUST in 2014 under the supervision of Husam Alshareef, professor of material science and engineering, and was a member of Alshareef's Functional Nanomaterials & Devices research group.

Fond memories of KAUST

During his time at KAUST, Xia's research focused on developing ternary metal sulfides and selenides for energy storage and conversion applications.

He feels that the training he received at KAUST—including professional communication, teamwork and project leadership programs—made for a smooth transition into his postdoctoral career.

"The training I got at KAUST within the Alshareef group has made me an independent researcher. Also, I feel extremely fortunate to have received endless support and advice from my supervisor Professor Alshareef on research and in life," Xia stated.

"I have to say my time at KAUST was so very enjoyable, and people there are so nice and helpful. The Functional Nanomaterials & Devices research group provided a comfortable and inventive atmosphere, making my work always enjoyable and fun," he added.

Outside of the laboratory, Xia supplements his research career with a strong desire to travel, and he has visited more than 100 countries worldwide.

"I love travelling, and I've been to both poles. I've attempted to chase the elusive aurora borealis or 'Northern Lights' in Norway, and I have visited the penguins at Port Lockroy on the remote Wiencke Island in Antarctica. I am always on the road," he enthused.

'Engage with your colleagues'

Xia's advice to current and future students of KAUST is to "engage in frequent academic discussions with your colleagues and supervisors," he said. "We used to hold regular brainstorming sessions in our lab. The discussions with your supervisor and group members are very critical for a successful Ph.D. career. Scientific debate is as important as any literature survey for a fresh Ph.D. student."

KAUST alumnus Chuan Xia told KAUST students to '[b]e confident to apply for any position you are interested in; your time at KAUST will serve you well.' Image courtesy of Chuan Xia.

"KAUST is well-recognized and respected all over the world. Be confident to apply for any position you are interested in; your time at KAUST will serve you well," Xia added.

"Chuan was an excellent Ph.D. student who exceeded all expectations," stated Alshareef. "He is a curious researcher who sees the big picture in his research field. His research output has been phenomenal—publishing 28 high-impact papers and winning multiple awards during his Ph.D. He was very helpful to others in the group, and I will always be very proud of him."

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