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NETL Mentor Profile: Youhai Wen

Michael BuricName: Youhai Wen

Position: General Engineer

How long have you been at NETL? 11 years. I am a member of the Computational Science and Engineering Team.

How long have you been a mentor to research associates? 10 years

Did you participate in an NETL internship program? If so, which one(s)?

I participated in NETL’s internship program administered through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

How has this research associate’s research/experience contributed to the NETL team?

Fei is a rising star in the phase-field modeling community and was one of the most frequently cited scientific authors in the world in 2018. At this stage of his career, he has already produced approximately 40 high-quality peer-reviewed journal articles, including one in Science and five in Nature Communications.

During his two years at NETL, Fei has developed sophisticated phase-field models from scratch to simulate exfoliation due to oxidation in high-temperature environments and published two papers in peer-reviewed journals. More recently, he made significant progress in physics-based fatigue crack growth modeling with a comprehensive manuscript currently under review by a leading computational materials journal. This progress paves the way for a lot more to come.

How do you think Fei’s experience at NETL will help him in the future?

Fei is very efficient in tackling diverse and challenging problems. His independent research experience at NETL will demonstrate how versatile he is in dealing with tough scientific challenges facing the U.S. Department of Energy. This work is quite different from projects in the academic setting, and the knowledge Fei gains at NETL will be easily adapted to address other significant R&D issues facing other government organizations or universities.

What are the most satisfying aspects about serving as an NETL mentor?

It is truly exciting to watch this next generation of dedicated and talented researchers blossom and advance their careers. This is more rewarding in Fei’s case because he is a pleasure to collaborate with and a team player. And he is eager to take initiative and contribute and help other team members if needed.

Please share some information about what ignited your early interest in science. Was it a parent, a teacher, your participation in a science competition or some other experience?

Great teachers make a difference. That was certainly true for me. My high school physics teacher was an inspiration who directed me toward a science-focused career. He would occasionally give optional homework assignments for students to work through and resolve some tough problems. The assignments were intended to help us find intriguing innovative solutions. I learned a great deal about the inner beauty of physics and how the sound principles of this discipline can be applied to solve complex problems.

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