Graduate Student Highlight: Min Li

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Graduate Student Highlight

Name:  Min Li

Degree Program:  Doctor Of Philosophy In Fiber And Polymer Science

Advisor(s):  Dr. David Hinks

Degrees you have:  Master of Science in Textile Chemistry at NC State University

Where are you from:  Taiyuan, Shanxi province in China

What is your town / country like?   I was born and raised in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi providence in China. Things I miss most in Taiyuan are the local dishes and gourmet that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, such as special stir fried meat, and the most authentic knife-sliced noodles, lamian, and maoerduo. This old city has a history of over 2500 years and many historical places are protected very well. The most famous Jinsi Temple in Taiyuan dates back to the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1276). Plus, the weather there is very pleasant, and it is really a good tourist destination.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University? There are many reasons that I came to NC State University, among which the most important is that the textile-related research undertaken at NC State is comparatively more comprehensive than other universities, which covers, color science, supply chain, color chemistry, polymer science, and fashion & design, etc. I also really enjoy the academic atmosphere here: professors work hard and conduct innovative research by combining conventional textile technologies with other technologies in areas of agriculture, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and physics, and we have more opportunities to learn cutting-edge technologies in the area of textiles.

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Give a short description of your research:  My master’s research focused on developing an environmental benign bleaching approach by combining activated bleaching and enzymatic desizing in one bath under near neutral conditions. Currently my research is to develop a reliable protocol for forensic dyed fiber analysis using a microfluidic system for dye extraction and identification. By analyzing of commercial dyes of different categories (direct, acid, disperse and reactive dyes) with Liquid chromatography-Time of Flight-Mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS) and other techniques such as TOF SIMS and cryomicroscopy, analytical data pertaining to characteristic retention time, molecular ions, and fragmentation patterns of dyes are obtained and contribute to a database of commercial dyes for forensic trace fiber detection and discrimination.

How does your research impact the world?  During my Master’s thesis research, I worked on a novel bleach activator that has been found to be very effective for bleaching under neutral conditions and at a low temperature. The bleach activator has potential to be an environmentally benign approach to textile preparation that significantly reduces consumption of resources such as water, energy and time.
For my Ph.D. dissertation research, a micro fluidic system for dye extraction has potential to be used as a more reliable, subjective analytical system in forensic fiber analysis, via semi-automatical extraction and analysis of dyes with minimal human handling and destruction. At the same time, development of an unprecedented analytical database of dyes could improve the efficiency of forensic analysis and provide a new, reliable system for comparisons of fibers encountered at crime scenes with known fibers.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?  If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level:  I won first place in the annual AATCC student paper competition held in Charlotte in 2012 for a paper titled, An environmentally benign approach to cotton preparation: One bath enzymatic desizing, scouring and activated bleaching.
Abstract: Current textile wet processing of woven cotton fabrics typically involves at least three stages— desizing, scouring and desizing. The above sequences are often done separately, which involve high resource consumption and fiber damage, especially for the conventional hot bleaching. In this paper, a new combined process for desizing, bleaching and scouring in one bath is described using an innovative bleach activator, N-[4-(Triethylammoniomethyl)benzoyl]-butyrolactam Chloride (TBBC). TBBC reacts with peroxide to generate a peracid that is a more kinetically active oxidant than perhydroxy anion, leading to effective bleaching at 50 °C at near neutral pH. Data show that effective preparation in terms of whiteness, fabric strength was achieved in the one-bath two-step combined process. While absorbency of the prepared fabric using the TBBC-based process was inferior to when conventional desizing, scouring and bleaching was employed, the resource consumption required has been reduced significantly.

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State?  The favorite thing in TECS and NC State is the academic atmosphere and the home-like feeling during my study here. The faculty and staff in the Department and College are hardworking and are very nice and friendly. In research, our ideas are fully respected and supported by our advisors, and we are encouraged to attend conferences and other platforms to report and discuss our ideas and achievements. I also enjoy the courses because I can learn the most cutting-edge knowledge, learn how to learn and cooperate with other people.  Unlike other courses I have taken , many courses here encourage us to work as a group, so I have more chance to interact with other students and learn from them.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how?  My advisor Dr. David Hinks has influenced me most. I was deeply impressed by his profound knowledge, positive attitude toward work, and the way he treats people. During the past three years, he has been continuously giving me instructions and suggestions on my research. I am impressed by his positive attitude and enthusiasm to work, and he is so brilliant and energetic that he has so many research ideas. Most important thing is, that he always smiles and is nice to people.
There are other people also influenced me a lot, such as Dr. Keith Beck, Dr. Harold S. Freeman, Dr. Renzo.Shamey, Mr. Jeffrey Krauss, and Ms. Judy Elson who consistently do their best to help students. They are really nice people and I feel very lucky to work with them. Finally, I have learned much from everyone in our research group, Guan Wang, Nanshan Zhang and Sha Fu, who are always ready to help.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study?  The most exciting thing in my field of study is that I can be involved in a cool project about forensic analysis and learn the most cutting-edge technologies. I really appreciate this opportunity to learn about analytical technologies in trace analysis and the chance to work with excellent faculty, staff, and students in different research areas.