Zhuoyan Li

Zhuoyan Li is an international student from Ube, Japan, and is interested in exploring the engineering/art interface. At Columbia Engineering, she intends to major in Materials Science or Electrical Engineering.

In true autobiography-style, Zhuoyan’s interest in materials science and nanotechnology would’ve sparked during her childhood in Tsukuba, the “Science City” of Japan, where she declared the National Institute for Materials Science her clam and JAXA her shelter. Instead, Zhuoyan only realized her engineering ambitions at sixteen, after attempting everything from baking to competitive physics and blogging about her years of existential confusion.

Following her life-altering revelation, Zhuoyan began conducting research at Kyushu University’s Research Center for Steel, where she proposed an innovative alloy design to overcome the strength-ductility tradeoff of martensitic steel by dispersing two kinds of precipitates with distinct properties. This unique method of microstructure control received the Japan Science and Technology (JST) President’s Award, the second highest national award for high school students in research. Her efforts were also recognized by SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son, who designated her as a Masason Foundation scholar.

Outside of research, Zhuoyan participated in a variety of academic and pre-professional competitions, placing first individually at the World Scholar’s Cup global round in 2017. Her other extracurriculars include ikebana (traditional Japanese flower arrangement) and running a “Humans of” Instagram page. In an attempt to deepen her understanding of contemporary art, Zhuoyan worked as a curator/guide on Teshima island during the Spring 2019 session of the Setouchi Triennale, earning her a bad tan instead. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the ukulele (poorly), appreciating spoken word, and misusing the Comic Sans font.