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Why Science?

ORNL is proud of its role in fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers. We bring in talented young researchers, team them with accomplished staff members, and put them to work at the lab’s one-of-a-kind facilities. The result is research that makes us proud and prepares them for distinguished careers.

We asked some of these young researchers why they chose a career in science, what they are working on at ORNL, and where they would like to go with their careers.

Mengya Li

Graduate student, Energy and Transportation Science Division
Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Hometown: Beijing, China

What are you working on at ORNL?

My research is focused on sodium-ion batteries, primarily on engineering the cathode performance with a goal of making sodium fuel cells with low cost, high energy, and long cycle life. Besides understanding the fundamental electrochemistry, I also develop novel material synthesis for scalable production of electrode materials and roll-to-roll manufacturing.

What would you like to do in your career?

I would like to expand my skills in doing scientific research where I can keep learning and growing. I enjoy the collaboration with scientists in multidisciplinary fields to solve problems. I would like to take on more responsibility in mentoring students besides developing ideas and completing my own research.

Why did you choose a career in science?

Growing up in a family of scientists, I was inspired all the time from my parents’ conversations and birthday gifts (a hydrogen fuel cell car kit and a radio electronic DIY kit). I also had awesome mentors when I started doing research. Moreover, overcoming challenges to solve scientific puzzles is so fulfilling.