MEM’S Ying Sun Goes to Washington

Dr. Ying Sun, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, heads to the National Science Foundation (NSF) this month to begin a two-year government agency assignment.

She will serve as a program director in the division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), directing the Thermal Transport Processes program. Sun will maintain her schedule of advising and her research lab, Complex Fluids and Multiphase Transport, at Drexel, dividing her week between DC and Philadelphia in fulfillment of both roles. Her NSF position formally starts on July 22.

Here at the college, her research focuses on multiphase flows and heat/mass transport, multiscale modeling of transport phenomena in energy systems and advanced manufacturing, complex fluids physics, interfacial phenomena, and printable electronics and photovoltaics.

The announcement was widely applauded by senior CoE leadership, particularly as Sun has just been promoted to a full professorship in MEM and can use that platform to deepen connections between Drexel and federal funding agencies.

Sun, who applied to the NSF position earlier this year, said one of her driving goals is to participate in discussions about the field’s direction and provide a vision for its future.

“The thermal transport field describes how heat, mass, and fluid move from one place to another. It impacts energy, water, infrastructure, automotive, health care, chemical processes, and defense sectors,” said Sun. “I will help to define the future of the field by funding innovative ideas, enabling cutting-edge collaborations, and nurturing a new generation of thermal scientists and engineers.

“This is a relatively classic field, but there are a lot of new tools—machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, as well as novel imaging and characterization techniques. I’d like to look at how we can use them to revolutionize the classic problems,” she added. “There are new frontiers in robotics, for example, using new materials that have very different thermal properties. So, I will be interested to see how we can contribute to those engineering frontiers, and how we can better understand thermal properties of materials to make them perform more efficiently under extreme conditions.”

“I will help to define the future of the field by funding innovative ideas, enabling cutting-edge collaborations, and nurturing a new generation.”
Dr. Ying Sun

Part of Sun’s role will be overseeing the transport program’s budget to fund new research. Under that guise, she will determine awards given to early career scientists through the bestowal of prestigious CAREER awards, a significant part of her new role. Sun herself is a CAREER award recipient.

“It is vital that our faculty members have a platform to be leaders in their fields beyond Drexel University,” said CoE Dean Sharon L. Walker, PhD. “We celebrate Ying’s appointment at the NSF, and we are proud and eager to see how she will contribute going forward.”

Sun received her bachelor’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She completed her Master’s and PhD at the University of Iowa. She joined Drexel’s College of Engineering faculty in 2009. She has authored over 65 refereed publications, supervised six PhD dissertations, 12 Master’s theses, over 25 undergraduate researchers, and eight post-docs.