Yang Zhao receives Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

Yang Zhao, an assistant professor in the department of mechanical and materials engineering, is the 2023 recipient of the Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research. 

The Award recognizes a junior faculty member who has demonstrated great potential in research scholarship. 


 “I am deeply honoured to receive the Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research," says Zhao. "This recognition is credited to the hard work and dedication of all the current and previous group members."

"I am also grateful to my colleagues, mentors and the entire academic community at Western for their support and encouragement.”  

Zhao’s innovative research program addresses the global energy crisis by developing advanced materials and techniques for clean energy storage solutions. Zhao’s work with nanotechnology has produced significant advancements in battery technology, including the development of high-density batteries through atomic and molecular layer deposition techniques (ALD and MLD). 

One of Zhao’s most notable achievements is his pioneering application of ALD/MLD films for metal anodes, effectively suppressing dendrite growth and enhancing battery lifespan. His research has drawn considerable attention, leading to collaborations with industry giants and opening new avenues for practical applications of his techniques.

“Yang’s research program is truly innovative and answers an urgent need within academic and industrial energy storage research and development,” says Andy Sun, emeritus professor in the department of mechanical and materials engineering. “Western is fortunate to have such an outstanding researcher and I have no doubt he will continue to be a leader in this growing field of clean energy.” 

Zhao’s expertise extends beyond ALD and MLD. He is also proficient in in-situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy for battery applications. His interdisciplinary approach, combining experimental engineering with theoretical science, positions him to make significant strides in developing next-generation energy storage systems.

Since joining Western, Zhao has secured over $3 million as PI in research funding, demonstrating his capability to attract substantial support for his projects. His prolific publication record includes 145 peer-reviewed articles, with an impressive career h-index of 65 and 14,000 citations. His work has been featured in top-tier journals like Chemical Reviews, Chemical Society Reviews, Angewandte Chemie, and Advanced Materials.

Zhao’s excellence has been recognized with over 15 prestigious awards, including the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award and the Materials Today Energy Early Career Researcher Award. He has presented at 26 international conferences, with more than ten invited and keynote talks, and holds leadership roles in organizing major scientific meetings. 

Beyond his research, Zhao is a dedicated educator and mentor, teaching courses such as “Property of Materials” to large undergraduate classes and supervising a dynamic research group that includes postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and undergraduate researchers. His mentorship has already resulted in numerous awards for his trainees, underscoring his commitment to developing the next generation of scientists.

Zhao being recognized with the Engineering Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research is a testament to his outstanding contributions to the field of energy storage and his potential to drive future innovations. Western Engineering looks forward to his continued impact on the scientific community and beyond.