Developing functional and green clothing materials
Note: This interview was conducted in spring 2017, when Xingchen Liu was a 2016/17 Business Development Fellow.
Xingchen Liu is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry graduate program, pursuing a major in fiber and polymer science. Xingchen earned her B.S. in textiles at Donghua University, the world-class textile engineering college in China, and her M.S. in textiles & clothing at UC Davis.
What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?
Our lab is dedicated to converting bio-based polymers derived from all kinds of agricultural waste into advanced materials that are an alternative to petroleum-derived materials. I work specifically on soy proteins, a major byproduct of edible oil and of the biodiesel industry in the U.S. My work aims to lay a solid foundation on protein-based material development and add extra industrial value to this inexpensive and plentiful raw material.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I trained to be a traditional textile engineer and a polymer chemist for 10 years. I am very interested in doing a perfect combination of both, traditional textiles and polymer chemistry, to develop functional and green clothing materials.
How will what you learn as a Business Development Fellow help you change the world?
These valuable experiences and lessons help me know more about the real world before it is too late. I have learned about the gap between very early-stage research in the lab and a final commercial product. Taking core MBA courses and talking to the program’s wonderful speakers and coaches gave me some clue as to how to shorten that gap.
I have also gained lots of fundamental skills, which has not only added to my academic knowledge but also impacted how I communicate and interact with people with different backgrounds.
What is the most valuable lesson or experience you have had through the fellows program?
I am now able to look at my research work from different perspectives, both as a scientist and as a “businesswoman.” The fun part about working and taking classes with MBA students is getting to know their different views and perspectives, which reflect their specific educational background and work experiences. This program has certainly broadened my horizons.