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The PhD candidate learning from a global network of researchers

16 November 2021

Collaboration is benefiting students and improving research outcomes

Leveraging the University of Sydney’s global networks has positioned PhD candidate Pang-Yu Liu to make important advancements towards minimising the impact of hydrogen embrittlement.

With opportunities to build networks and conduct important research in world-class facilities, completing a PhD with the University of Sydney is about more than submitting a thesis paper.

This has certainly been the experience of engineering PhD candidate Pang-Yu Liu, who is working with Professor Julie Cairney and Dr Yi-Sheng (Eason) Chen to advance research on hydrogen embrittlement in steel. 

Hydrogen embrittlement in steel has played a role in structural failures affecting aviation, shipping, construction, and energy production. There is currently no solution to this major industrial problem.

Professor Cairney and her team are exploring the use of atom probe tomography to understanding embrittlement, to guide the design of future alloys that can address the problem.

PhD candidate Pang-Yu Liu

PhD candidate Pang-Yu Liu

For Pang-Yu, who previously completed his engineering bachelor's degree at National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, the decision to undertake his PhD at the University of Sydney was an easy one.

“Not only does the University of Sydney rank in the top 50 universities in the world, but having access to the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis is perfect for conducting microscopy and material science research,” he said.

Due to COVID-19, Pang-Yu has had to start his research project while based in Taiwan.

However, relationships fostered through the Office of Global Engagement have enabled him to conduct experiments at the National Taiwan University to successfully commence his research.

This has allowed him to support his team’s research remotely while also conducting his own experiments under the tutelage of research supervisor Professor Cairney. 

“Professor Cairney is an experienced and great researcher, and I am learning a lot from her conscientious and rigorous attitude toward research,” said Pang-Yu.

“Studying at the University of Sydney allows me to work with talented researchers worldwide, and I am grateful for the opportunities presented.”

The benefits are mutual, with Pang-Yu adding valuable support to the project.

“Pang-Yu is an excellent student from a top university in Taiwan,” said Professor Cairney.

“Pang-Yu has completed some specific experiments at National Taiwan University that have really added value to our overall program, and has been doing some calculations to support the experimental work that is being conducted by other group members at the University of Sydney. 

“His project has been very productive, even though he has been working remotely.”

Supported by global partnerships

Pang-Yu is one of three students who are currently undertaking PhD studies at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering after receiving scholarships funded by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the University of Sydney.

Co-funded by the Department of International and Cross-Strait Education (DICE) of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the University of Sydney, the Taiwan – University of Sydney Scholarship supports up to five Taiwanese students to undertake PhD studies at the University of Sydney each year.

Materials engineer Dr Yi-Sheng (Eason) Chen was part of the initial discussions when the scholarship was established in late 2019.  

Dr Chen, who completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Taiwan National Tsing Hua University, sees the scholarship as an opportunity to increase the university’s international engagement while supporting both students and academics.

“The scholarship is mutually beneficial in that it supports Taiwanese students to study at the University of Sydney, and it also makes it easier for researchers to connect with talented students and receive support for their research,” said Dr Chen.

The scholarships are advancing important research and supporting a network of global researchers, with other current scholarship recipients including:

  • Bin-Kai Liao, researching photonic microwave time delay using slow- and fast-light effects in Mutual Coupled Lasers with Professor Xiaoke Yi;
  • and Ying An Chen, researching the use of a third-person in virtual reality educational games with Professor Judy Kay.

Find out more about the Taiwan – University of Sydney Scholarship, or learn more about scholarships to study engineering or computer science at the University of Sydney.

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