Carnegie Mellon University
April 30, 2019

Sipei Li Receives Graduate Student Research Award

By Ben Panko

Chemistry Ph.D candidate Sipei Li received the 2019 Guy C. Berry Graduate Student Research Award. He was presented with the prize at the Mellon College of Science Graduate Student Town Hall this month.

"I feel really humbled and honored," said Li, who works in the lab of J.C. Warner University Professor of the Natural Sciences Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, on receiving the award. "I feel committed to do more research and science in the future."

"He is the most creative and collaborative student I have had during my career at CMU," co-adviser Matyjaszewski wrote in nominating Li for the award. "Sipei is the pioneer in the field aimed to marry polymer chemistry, especially controlled radical polymerization, to battery science. His work brings immense opportunities for the development of next-generation high-energy-density rechargeable batteries."

Li's early research at Carnegie Mellon focused on synthesizing functional polymers with controlled functionality and topology. He later branched out to the field of energy, where he invented a liquid-like lithium metal anode that has improved the lifespan of solid electrolytes. In his five years at Carnegie Mellon, Li has published more than a dozen papers, many in high-impact journals and eight as first author, with more on the way.

"He routinely develops novel concepts and has already demonstrated mastery in several different fields, including polymer chemistry, materials science and electrochemistry," wrote co-adviser Jay Whitacre, Trustee Professor in Energy and director of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, in seconding Li's nomination. "His bench chemistry and electrochemistry skills are exemplary and I have not seen a more experimentally productive Ph.D. student in my 12-year career at CMU."