College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

AerE graduate student Thanh Phan receives Brown Fellowship

Thanh Phan
Thanh Phan

Thanh Phan, a fifth-year Ph.D. aerospace engineering student at Iowa State, has been named a Brown Graduate Fellowship recipient for 2021-22. Fourteen fellowships are awarded to Iowa State students each year. Phan is one of three recipients in the College of Engineering.

He was selected for the honor after two of his recent research articles were published in Acta Materialia, a high-ranking scientific journal. His research has also attracted attention from scholars across the nation, and due to his research achievement, Thanh was awarded the Alexander Lippisch Memorial Scholarship in June of 2020.

Established in 2011 and administered by Iowa State’s Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), the annual Brown Graduate Fellowship Program is used to advance Iowa State research in science, agriculture, and space science. Each year, an internal review committee selects a group of Ph.D. or master’s degree students from across the university to receive $10,000 each in institutional funding, which can be used to enhance existing fellowships, partially fund a fellowship, or assist with recruitment of new graduate students.

Phan’s major professor and nominator is associate professor Liming Xiong. Phan’s research falls into the general area of theoretical, computational, and applied mechanics of solids. More specifically, his work focuses on understanding how the atomic-scale structure change determines the material behavior at the macroscopic level, which provides the support for a rational design of simultaneously strong and tough materials applied in a variety of safety-critical engineering infrastructures.

In his letter of nomination to the Brown Fellowship Selection Committee, Xiong said, “Also, as a major developer of the massively parallelized multi-scale materials modeling software initiated by me at Iowa State, Thanh has been mentoring the graduate students not only in my group but also in my collaborators’ group outside of ISU who are using this software, including Prof. Wei Gao’s group at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Prof. Garritt Tucker’s group at Colorado School of Mines. With such experiences, Thanh has demonstrated strong leadership and communication skills, as well as a five- and even ten-year vision on how to utilize the knowledge/skills gained at ISU to support the advancement of the general area at large.”

Xiong also commended on Thanh’s talents as a scholar, which he has had a chance to observe since Thanh was an undergraduate student in 2015. During his entire career at Iowa State, Thanh has worked and studied hard, and aided others where he was able, both in the position of TA in a multitude of classes and in his research groups.

Thanh is listed as an author on eight ISU research publications, presented at 11 international conferences, has assisted in teaching five undergraduate courses, and, according to Xiong, “hundreds of students have benefited from his service in the past four years.” He received his B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University.

“I feel honored to have been nominated by the Aerospace Engineering Department. Receiving this fellowship not only motivates me to keep working harder, but also opens a lot of doors for my research,” said Thanh.