Student Spotlight on Weixin Li

Weixin Li is a Ph.D. Candidate in Prof. Gianluca Cusatis’s group. He joined Northwestern community in 2013, and has worked with Prof. Gianluca Cusatis since 2014. His expertise lies in the area of fracture, computational, and experimental solid mechanics. He has been working on various interesting projects ranging from understanding the fracturing and failure of shale rocks for accelerating the U.S. energy revolution to discovering the damage mechanisms and scaling characteristics of 3D carbon-polymer composites for designing new generations of material and structural system.

Weixin Li came to Northwestern from China, where he dreamt of an adventure abroad. An offer letter from Northwestern University saved him from struggling to choose among invitations from various institutes such as Duke and UPenn. As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, offering the most reputable graduate program in solid mechanics—Prof. Cusatis told Li, “You will never find a better place to study mechanics anywhere else around the world”—Northwestern University was his choice without a second thought.

At Northwestern, Li has stood out as one of the best students working on computational and fracture mechanics, specializing in damage and fracture characterization of quasi-brittle materials via computer simulations and experimental investigations. His writing has been prolific, and working within the Northwestern’s SEGIM Center, he has published a number of papers in the best journals in the field of rock and composite mechanics. He was one of the three finalists of the EMI computational mechanics student competition in 2017. Even with all his accomplishments, one of the best qualities of Weixin Li is his willingness to help other students. He always works with new students and help them set up research of their own.

Northwestern has inspired Li to continue his research journey after his PhD. Discovering new things and solving challenging problems has been an essential component of his graduate education, and will stay with him in his future career. He will do postdoc work with Northwestern’s Prof. Zdeněk  Bažant after his defense, and hopes to one day be a professor himself.