W&L Professor Receives Grant from the American Association of University Women Mengying Liu will use the funds to research high-throughput crystallographic mapping in the United Kingdom.
Mengying Liu, assistant professor of engineering at Washington and Lee University, has been selected to receive a Research Publication Grant in Engineering, Medicine and Science from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Liu was awarded $34,996 to assist with a cross-disciplinary research project that brings materials engineers and geoscientists together and fosters international collaborations between the United Kingdom and the United States.
Liu’s research will be a collaboration with faculty members from both W&L and the University of Cambridge (U.K.), with assistance from Tekle Khmiadashvili ’25, an undergraduate teaching assistant at W&L. Liu will mentor Khmiadashvili on location in the U.K this summer and will be joined by Cambridge professors Matteo Seita (engineering) and David Wallis (earth sciences) and Jeff Rahl, professor of earth and environmental geoscience at W&L.
The group will aim to develop a materials engineering characterization method using polarized transmittance microscopy (PTM) to generate crystallographic texture for geoscience paleostress analysis. The success of this research may not only revolutionize the paleostress analysis by reducing the time from days to minutes, but also broaden the spectrum of research activities under materials engineering to include geoscience. The latter could potentially attract more students with diverse backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“It is an honor to receive this grant from the AAUW, and I am proud to represent both primarily undergraduate institutions and underrepresented groups in academia,” said Liu. “This award is not only a validation of the hard work and dedication I have put into my research, but also a reaffirmation of my commitment to advancing knowledge in my field and promoting diversity and inclusion within higher education.”
The AAUW Research Publication Grant is intended to assist women in overcoming persistent gender stereotypes and bias in engineering, medicine and science that make it difficult to publish their research, a necessary step in receiving promotions and tenure in those fields of study. Liu must publish her research in a scholarly publication and be listed as a primary author within six months of the end of the grant year.
“This grant is going to truly enhance my pre-tenure leave experience,” said Liu. “Not only can I work on my proposed research and manuscript, but also closely interact with researchers working on other topics that are appealing to our students, such as machine learning and additive manufacturing. I can integrate these popular and cutting-edge topics into my future research and teaching, which also meet my career goal as a teacher-scholar. The grant offers me a great opportunity to improve my teaching, inspire females in STEM, network and promote research, complete manuscripts and initiate more interdisciplinary collaborations globally.”
Founded in 1881, AAUW is one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women, due to the generosity and legacy of generations of AAUW members. The organization has awarded over $135 million in fellowships and grants to more than 13,000 scholars and organizations in all 50 states and 150 countries and is considered one of the largest scholarship programs for women in the world.
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