Three MPIE-scientists chosen to participate in the career program “Sign-Up”

December 07, 2022

The Max Planck Society (MPG) has chosen Dr. Ningyan Cheng, Dr. Dipali Sonawane and Dr. Jing Yang, postdoctoral scientists at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE), to participate in the career development program “Sign Up!”. Cheng will take part in the leadership seminars, Sonawane and Yang in the career development seminars.

The “Sign Up” program is conducted since 2010 in a cooperation of the MPG with the European Academy for Women in Politics and Economics Berlin (EAF). Its goal is to empower excellent female scientists to become future leaders fully aware of their potential.

Dr. Ningyan Cheng is associate professor at the Anhui University in China. During her career she received several awards and scholarships. She joined MPIE through a Humboldt scholarship this year. Here, she investigates the correlation between the electrocatalytic activity of alloys and the process of alloying. Alloying involves combining elements, which is reported to exceed the electrocatalytic activity of the constituent elements. This is believed to come from synergetic effects of the atomic seized properties of the constituent elements. Although there is not yet enough experimental evidence to prove this assumption. Cheng sets out to develop an in-depth understanding of the catalytic mechanisms by ex-situ and in-situ electron transmission microscopy techniques. This will help gather experimental evidence and create a road-map for the design and applications of novel high-entropy-alloys.

Dr. Jing Yang completed her PhD in materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2020. She received the Graduate Student Gold Award of the Materials Research Society in 2018. Since 2022, she works at MPIE and studies the corrosion of alloys. Corrosion affects the safety of applications. Therefore, it is necessary to develop corrosion resistant materials. Yang is specifically concerned with magnesium alloys, which are widely used for example in the automotive industry. She uses modern computational materials modeling to study defect phases at the solid-liquid interface under realistic conditions. This method helps to understand how different alloying elements interact during corrosion processes. Once their roles are understood, it is possible to provide new design-strategies for better corrosion-resistant alloys.

Dr. Dipali Sonawane joined MPIE in 2022 with a Humboldt scholarship, which supports researchers with an excellent qualification. Her focus at MPIE is the search for more sustainable alternatives to high strength steels and superalloys. Sustainable in terms of recyclability and the dispense of rare earth elements. One of the promising candidates are iron aluminides, but their mechanical behavior under application-relevant extreme conditions is not well explored due to the limitation of high throughput mechanical testing and instrumentation. To close this gap and provide more sustainable alternatives, Sonawane uses a dewetting technique to fabricate single-crystal FeAl microparticles from thin films, thus presenting a novel and quick pathway to assess their strength under high strain rates and temperatures using an in-house developed high-strain rate testing setup.  Subsequently, different electron microscopy techniques are used to understand deformation mechanisms of microparticles.

The “Sign Up” program is part of the MPG’s comprehensive effort in encouraging young female scientists to strive for leading positions. Candidates are awarded for their exceptional scientific skills and team spirit and serve as an inspiration for young, early-career scientists. The program consists of four seminar modules and discussions with top leading scientists. The career-building seminars offer information on professional communication, appearance and self-management. The leadership seminars help participants in developing leadership communication, strategies and performance skills. Three out of five nominated researchers by MPIE were chosen to participate in 2023. 

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