IMASC Alumna Fang Xu Is Finding Wonderlands in Texas
Former IMASC post-doc Fang Xu, winner of the University of Texas System Rising STARs award 2020, took a few minutes off from setting up her new lab at the University of Texas San Antonio to talk to us about her research, her IMASC roots, and frozen pipes.
IMASC: Hi Fang! Now that you are in your own lab, tell us about your research plans.
Fang Xu: We study the structure-activity relationship over transition metals and metal-oxides for chemical reactions that contribute to environment and energy, such as complete oxidation of volatile organic compounds and hydrogen activation of passivation-layer oxides.
IMASC: What major equipment will be in your lab?
Fang Xu: Our scanning tunneling microscope captures images of surface structures in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV), from liquid helium temperatures (4 K) up to 400 K. Looking at species on an atomically flat surface is like entering a wonderland! Also, many thanks to Prof. Friend and Harvard University, who donated two UHV instruments to me. The two pieces will be re-organized and be useful in many aspects, including experiments in ambient pressures.
IMASC: I have seen your STM images, even from your time in IMASC. They really are wonderful.
Fang Xu: Thank you! My experience in IMASC was critical, it helped prepare me for this faculty position. In IMASC I worked on cutting-edge and very fruitful projects, with highly impactful publications. Working on such collaborative research, communicating with collaborators from different research areas; all of that lasts long into the future. Lastly and most importantly, I cannot value more the training and encouragement of my dear mentor Prof. Cynthia Friend. She is my role model of a female scientist.
IMASC: Do you miss the weather in Boston?
Fang Xu: Haha, my husband and I asked a local person if we need to protect the water pipe outside the house for winter, the reply was there is no such concern. Indeed, we were amazed by the warm winter until the temperature suddenly hit 10 below freezing!
IMASC: Thank you for taking time to catch up with us. Congratulations on your Rising Star award, and we look forward to seeing your next freezing-cold "wonderland" result (from inside your STM, not your water pipes)!