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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Cullen College Alumna Scores Prestigious Chinese Government Award

By: 

Rashda Khan
Chong Dai (Ph.D. '18) won a 2019 Chinese Government Award for Self-financed Students Abroad.
Chong Dai (Ph.D. '18) won a 2019 Chinese Government Award for Self-financed Students Abroad.

Chong Dai, who earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the UH Cullen College of Engineering, was awarded a 2019 Chinese Government Award for Self-financed Students Abroad.

Given by the China Scholarship Council, this competitive award is presented to only 500 students worldwide each year. She will receive a $6,000 cash prize and a certificate.

“The growing global population and increasing personal energy consumption brings with them critical energy shortage and related environmental challenges,” Dai said. “I would like to solve these problems.”

Dai graduated from UH in May 2018 and her doctoral dissertation – titled “Heterogeneous nucleation and growth of nanoparticles under environmentally relevant conditions” – won first place in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Best Dissertation Award.

“My research has enormous implications for the removal of heavy metals, scales formation control and well-controlled materials used in various industrial applications,” Dai said. While at UH, she worked with Yandi Hu, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“I would like to give special thanks to my advisor, Professor Yandi Hu,” Dai said. “She offered great help and advice in regards to my research, award application, my Ph.D., life and my future career.”

After earning her doctorate, Dai served at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an entrepreneur lead for Team 1191 lead detection, part of the NSF Innovation Corps. The program prepares scientists and engineers with entrepreneurial training to move towards commercialization of scientific projects that emerge from academic research.

Currently, Dai works as a postdoctoral research associate at Rice University. She does barite and calcite inhibition testing and modeling under simulated oilfield conditions.

Established in 2003, this award aims to encourage research excellence and recognize the achievements of Chinese students abroad. Awardees are selected based on their research achievements and academic merit after several rounds of judging by invited experts in the field.

It is considered to be the highest honor awarded by the Chinese government to graduate students studying abroad.

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