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Principal Investigator:

Tian Profile.jpg
Tian Li

Assistant Professor

Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

1034 Ray W. Herrick Laboratories,

177 S Russell St, West Lafayette, IN 47907


Dr. Tian Li is recognized as a Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering and Kavli Fellow by National Academy of Sciences. She is the recipient many awards including Violet B. Haas Fellowship, Moore Inventor Fellowship finalist, Forbes 30 under 30, ASME Haythornthwaite Foundation Research Award, R&D 100 Finalist, Sony Research Innovation Award, MRS postdoc award, among others. As the leading author or corresponding author, she has published on Nature, Science, Nature Materials, Nature Energy, Science Advances, among others. Her research work has been covered in many medias including Science podcast, Nature index, New York Times and others. 

​Innovative solutions towards grand challenges require a multidisciplinary approach. By Redesigning Natural materials for Energy, Water, Environment and Devices (ReNEWED), the Li group aims to apply the fundamental science to establish a natural “toolbox” for sustainable solutions towards the carbon drawdown.

-------------------------------------------------    Recent News    -------------------------------------------------

We showcased our Living Wood in ARPA-E summit-- featuring our co-PI Prof. Eva Haviarova (Director of Wood Research Lab) and Prof. Gemma Reguera (MSU), as well as Xiwei Shan and Dr. Emily Greeson.


May 2024


Tabe joined us with Ross Fellowship -- he is co-advised with Prof. Senay Purzer -- Tabe has a unique background/interest in Engineering Education and engineering solutions for sustainability.

Welcome Tabe!

June 2024


Paula joined us under SURF program! Paula will be working on bio-based adhesives and microbe assisted biomanufacturing. Welcome Paula!

June 2024


Dr. Li was selected as National Academy of Science Kavli Fellow. 

May 2024


Wenkai received his PhD with an exceptional defense on cellulose innovation for energy and water -- he will stay with us and look for faculty position (please contact him/me if possible fit). Wenkai joined us in 2020 when our group started at Purdue -- thanks for all the hard work and congrats to Dr. Zhu! 

May 2024

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Yun will join U. of Buffalo as Assistant Professor from Jan 2025-- She gave excellent job talk on colored cooling using cellulose nanocrystal and cooling cellulose for ambient water harvesting.

Yun joined us in 2020 when our group started at Purdue-- thanks for all the hard work and congrats to Dr. Zhang!

April 2024

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Dr. Li was invited to the National Academy of Sciences' Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium

Jan 2024

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Simone joined us under DURI program-- She is co-advised with Tony Dong from Department of Chemistry at Purdue. She worked on upcycling biomass/cellulose waste for fuel!

Welcome Simone!

Jan 2024

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Our work on ambient water harvesting is highlighted on Nature Outlook Water

Jan 2024

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Dr. Li serves as guest editor for npj flexible electronics 

Sustainable Flexible Electronics

Nov 2023


We were awarded the Ag-Eng Fund 

(Collaboration with Petrus Langenhoven and Lisa Mauer from Colleges of Agriculture)

PI: Tian Li

Nov 2023

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Dr. Li gives a keynote talk on Nature conference - flexible electronics.

Nov 2023

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We were awarded NSF EFRI Engineered Living Systems (2 million for 4 years), as co-PI to support lead PI Jinxing Li from MSU

Sept 2023


Pengfei defended his Master Thesis - he is staying with us for PhD. His work uses cellulose as naturally nanostructured channels for ion/electron regulation towards advanced wearable devices.


Congrats to Pengfei! 

July 2023


Dr. Li was selected as one of the ten Moore Inventor Fellow Finalist and received support from Moore Foundation.

May 2023

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One of our senior design team TechStyles was selected as one of the finalist in Malott competition. The team made a sensing shoe insole that can map both friction and pressure. 

April 2023


Xiwei defended his Master Thesis!

Xiwei is staying with us for PhD. His work focuses on using microbe activities for strengthening natural wood and increaseing carbon negativity.


Congrats to Xiwei! 

April 2023

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Our undergraduate researcher, Tanya Sophia Masnyk, received the Bottomley Research Scholarship. Tanya became involved in our work through the Women in Engineering workshop.

Feb 2023


ARPA E Program Managers visited us

Jan 2023 


Dr. Li receives the Violet B. Haas Fellowship

Jan 2023 

Zijian defended his Master Thesis! Zijian is staying at Purdue for PhD with Prof. Yan Gu.

Congrats to Zijian!

Dec 2022


​ARPA-E grant under HESTIA program

Strong and CO2 Consuming Living Wood

PI: Tian Li

Oct 2022 


Sony Innovation Research Award

Jun Liu & Tian Li

Oct 2022 

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Wenkai Zhu passed the PhD prelim! Congrats to Wenkai! 

Aug 2021 


Bottomley Research Scholarship

Undergraduate: Gabriella Schalm

Feb 2022 

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Sai Swapneel Aranke defended her Master Thesis! Sai is staying at Purdue for PhD with Prof. Byron Pipes.

Congrats to Sai! 

Time: Aug.2021. 

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Haythornthwaite Foundation Research Award

PI: Tian Li

Time: Dec.2020. 


Forbes 30 under 30 Energy

PI: Tian Li

Time: Dec.2018. 

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