Physics Ph.D. Graduate Xin Shi Receives Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award

Award Recognizes Significance and Impact of Research

Each semester, the Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award is presented to a graduating doctoral student who has performed outstanding research and submitted the best dissertation to the College of Natural Science and Mathematics. The Spring 2024 recipient was Xin Shi, a physics Ph.D. graduate.

Xin Shi
Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award winner Xin Shi with Dean Dan Wells.

The award was announced on May 10 at the University of Houston Commencement for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Shi received a certificate and an award of $1,000.

Shi’s dissertation is titled “Advancing Nontoxic, Antimony-based 1–2–2-type Thermoelectric Zintls.” His research focuses on the direct conversion of thermal energy, which is abundant in our environment, to electrical energy, which powers our society. Shi’s research was conducted under the supervision of Professor Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH.

Current thermoelectric materials that can help accomplish this conversion have been laborious to design, and they often contain toxic or scarce elements. Shi has made efforts to contribute in-depth understandings to the properties of promising thermoelectric materials fundamentally, and he has researched a new strategy to simultaneously design a series of nontoxic, highly performing thermoelectric compounds for potential applications. These advances will have an ongoing positive impact in future environmentally friendly energy sources.

He will next pursue postdoctoral research with the goal of becoming a research-active faculty member.

For the award, nominated dissertations are evaluated for the:

  • Significance and impact of the research
  • Originality of the work
  • Quality of the scholarship, and
  • Quality of the presentation and organization of the dissertation

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics