Success Stories

Dr. Chunfei Li

Li group pictureDr. Chunfei Li is an associate professor of physics at Clarion University. Li has been a faculty member since 2008.

Li has had more than 100 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, and he has received six National Science Foundation grants – four of which Li received while teaching at Clarion University.

He is currently the principal investigator for two NSF-supported projects: MRI: Acquisition of an Electron Back Scattering Diffraction System to Advance Materials Research and Education as Clarion University, and RUI: Preparation of Free-Standing Icosahedral Quasicrystalline Nanoparticles and Their Application in Self Assembly.

Altogether, Li has been awarded more than $700,545 in NSF grants in the fields of physics and related sciences.
National Science Foundation grants are the most prestigious, and the most difficult to obtain grants in all of science. For a member of the Clarion faculty to be awarded four of these in the space of 10 years is nothing short of remarkable.

One of NSF grants was used to purchase a $500,000 electron microscope, which is used in his research projects, that are typically conducted with undergraduate students. For example, his two most recent grants have allowed him to work alongside seven undergraduate students and four high school students in real-world research settings.

Li has an immense appreciation for involving students in the research process as early as possible, as it allows them to "find a problem to be solved, to state the problem to others, to propose a means to solve the problem, to evaluate the necessary instruments and knowledge, to budget for the project, and to manage time to keep a project on track."
In the last five years, five to six undergraduate students each year have been able to complete research under the mentorship of Li. He has conducted research with students, not only majoring in physics, but also in chemistry, biology, art, and liberal studies.

Twenty-seven of Li's research students have written successful undergraduate research proposals, 12 have presented research results at scientific conferences, and seven of them have co-authored research papers for peer-reviewed journals.

Many of his former research students have gained full-tuition undergraduate and graduate level scholarships, have gained employment in physics and industrial fields, and some are continuing their studies at Clarion University.
Li "considers the success of his students as his greatest accomplishment," and he continues to find joy in his chosen profession as a college professor.

Last Updated 3/4/20