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Professor Hua Kun Liu recognised for contribution to research and teaching

Energy materials engineer awarded a rare Doctor of Science

Distinguished Professor Hua Kun Liu’s impressive contribution to science and engineering was recognised on Thursday 20 July when she was awarded a Doctor of Science by the University of Wollongong.

Professor Liu, from UOW’s Institute of Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM), is an international leader in the development and commercialisation of energy materials.

Since joining UOW in 1994, when she established ISEM’s energy materials research program, Professor Liu’s research has been focused on clean energy materials, the materials science and engineering, and electrochemistry and applications. Her team is widely recognised as a leading group in the field.

Professor Will Price, Executive Director of AIIM, said a Doctor of Science is a statement of career achievement for an academic who has produced a large body of work that is internationally recognised, usually over a period of 20 or 30 years.

“It is a richly deserved award,” Professor Price said. “Professor Liu is world renowned for her expertise in battery materials, and for her work with lithium-ion batteries in particular.

“Her research group is the largest and most influential group in the country working in lithium-ion battery development, and one of the top groups in the world in that area.

“Her group contributes more than half of all journal publications – and 60 per cent of citations – in that field in Australia.”

Professor Liu was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering in 2013, and was awarded four consecutive Australian Research Council Australian Professorial Fellowships from 1994 – 2010. She received the UOW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence Senior Researcher in 2013.

However, Professor Liu’s research work is only one aspect of the contribution that she had made to the University. The support and guidance she has given to her students is equally impressive, Professor Price said.

In her time at UOW Professor Liu has supervised 61 PhD students to completion in the energy materials area and 30 postdoctoral and visiting fellows “She is a really great student role model and has been an excellent mentor for a large number of PhD students.

“She has played a very valuable role in on mentoring and encouraging the next generation of scientists and engineers,” Professor Price said.

It was appropriate then that one of Professor Liu’s most recent PhD students, Ranjusha Rajagopalan, received her PhDs at the same graduation celebration that Professor Liu was presented with her honour.