November 23, 2020
Hometown: Handan, Hebei, China
Advisor: Teng Zhang
Xiaoxiao Zhang came to Syracuse University from the town of Liuyuan in China to pursue her PhD degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. At first, she kept to a small circle of close friends and took her required classes. Gradually, she started “feeling braver”, and so she took classes in other schools and colleges on campus, expanded her friend network, and became engaged with student organizations. She enjoyed serving the graduate community and for the last two years, she took a leadership role as president of the ECS-GSO.
Zhang’s research interests lie at the intersection of developmental biology, solid mechanics, and soft tissue engineering. Through computational modeling methods, she studies the wrinkling patterns on curved surfaces, seeking to understand the evolutionary role of wrinkle formation during embryonic development. The insights of her research can be applied in advanced material design such as materials for clean water, bio-medical devices, and aerospace structures.
As a student in Dr. Zhang’s group, she also helps guide aspiring young researchers, from high school to Master’s level, and is assistant to Zhang’s science talks in local libraries and community centers. This outreach work has been particularly rewarding for Xiaoxiao. Upon graduation, she plans to return to Liuyuan, where she grew up, and work with its youngest students.
“I want to tell them about the world outside of the town, inspire them to study hard, and help them build better lives for themselves. They are my people, and becoming a model for them is the most meaningful next step for me.”
In her free time, Zhang enjoys reading as well as hiking and taking rides around the beautiful countryside of Central New York.