The first seminar this year of the “CHBE Professional Development Seminar Series”, organized by the CHBE Graduate Student Club, was successfully held on September 20th with Professor Xiaotao (Tony) Bi as the speaker. After completing his PhD from this department, Professor Bi worked at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal as a postdoctoral follow and Natural Gas Technologies Centre as a research scientist prior to joining UBC as a faculty member in 1997. In addition to teaching and active research, he served as the associate department head for 3 years, as an associate director of the Clean Energy Research Centre since 2009, manager of the Fluidization Research Centre since 1998, and a faculty mentor of the UBC Bridge program since 2007.
In his talk, Professor Bi provided a summary of his academic career starting from his childhood. He was born and raised in a small town in the south-west of China. The end of Chinese Cultural Revolution opened the door for him to compete for and get admitted in the prestigious Tsinghua University of China. After completing Bachelor degree, he decided to pursue Masters degree at the influence of some faculty members there. Later, he moved to UBC to obtain a PhD degree in this department under the supervision of Professor John Grace.
Professor Bi frankly admitted that throughout his career he had been attracted by many diversions, but successfully managed to get over all the allurements and pursued his main goal. He always asks himself what is the most important thing he needs to do at that time in order to reach the main goal. By sharing the stories of his own struggles, he has addressed some of the interesting questions which cross the mind of a graduate student who wishes to develop career in the field of research and/or teaching. Professor Bi highly recommended participating in extra-curricular activities for developing soft skills; however, he stressed the need for giving academic activities the priority.
CHBE Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty members well attended the talk. Graduate students from other engineering departments, too, participated.