Aiping Yu, a professor of chemical engineering, is one of six nation-wide recipients of 2020 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships for highly promising researchers. Her selection was announced today by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. A virtual awards ceremony is scheduled for this afternoon.

The prestigious fellowships include $250,000 in research grants, and up to $90,000 a year to universities to free winners from teaching and administrative duties so they can concentrate on research full-time.

Yu aims to establish a world-leading carbon nanotechnology centre at Waterloo.

“As a female researcher, it is difficult to balance family life and career development,” she said. “I appreciate this award because it gives me two years of teaching relief so I can really take off and fly.”

Yu’s main research focus is on carbon nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes and graphene, to make longer-lasting, smaller, faster-charging batteries and supercapacitors.

Carbon nanotubes and graphene are particularly well-suited to those applications, including use in electric vehicles, smartphones and laptop computers, because they are highly conductive and have large surface areas.

“These two materials are the driving forces pushing the entire development of nanotechnology,” Yu said. “They have amazing physical properties.”

Edgar William Richard Steacie was a chemist and researcher who made major contributions to science in Canada during and immediately after World War Two. He also led the National Research Council of Canada from 1952 to 1962.

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