Dr. Wei Gao is an Associate Professor and a University Faculty Scholar in the Textile Engineering, Chemistry & Science Department at the Wilson College of Textiles. Before joining NCSU, she worked as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow on fuel cells and batteries in the Los Alamos National Laboratory and obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry from Rice University. Dr. Gao has several years of research experience in nanomaterials and nanotechnologies. Her Ph. D. thesis focused on a group of new two-dimensional (2D) materials named as “graphene oxides” and their applications in fuel cells, supercapacitors, and batteries, as well as water purification systems. Her current research interests lie at the interfaces between nanotechnology development and textile engineering. Dr. Gao is also very enthusiastic about teaching. She received the Harry B. Weiser Teaching Award from Rice University when serving as a teaching assistant in the organic-chemistry lab. She also volunteered as a Judge in Science Fairs at several local high schools, a presenter on fuel cell topics to female students in the Expanding Your Horizons 2014 mini-conference in Santa Fe, and a teacher in Chinese for two semesters at a local Baptist church in Los Alamos.
Dr. Gao’s unique experience in 2D nanomaterial research, synthetic and analytical chemistry, as well as device design and fabrication inspire her plans for attaining better understanding and improved tailoring of nanomaterials for innovative energy-related systems. She wants to accomplish her research goals by engineering materials at the molecular level that promises to direct improvements in bulk properties such as the active surface area, chemical activity/stability, and electronic/ionic conductivity, making them far superior to those of the current materials.