Xi Chen named 2016 Blavatnik Regional Award Finalist

NEW YORK—Xi Chen, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering with the City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (CUNY ASRC) and The City College of New York, has been named a 2016 Blavatnik Regional Award Finalist in Physical Sciences and Engineering. He will accept the award—consisting of $10,000 in unrestricted funds and a medal—at the New York Academy of Sciences Annual Gala on Monday, November 7.

Chen—a faculty member with the CUNY ASRC’s Nanoscience Initiative—is being recognized for his research of radically new approaches to energy harvesting from evaporation, which has led to numerous publications in leading scientific and popular journals, including Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Communications and has been featured in mainstream media, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and many others.

“I am honored and grateful to receive the Blavatnik Award. This award is a great opportunity to bring our technology to a larger audience,” Chen said. “I really hope that the fruits of my research will have a beneficial real world impact in the near future.”

The regional award—granted to postdoctoral-level scientists conducting research at institution in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut—was founded by business entrepreneur Len Blavatnik, in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists seek to promote early-career researchers engaged in innovative, high-impact research. Each year the regional awards recognize one winner and two finalists in each of the categories of Life Science, Physical Sciences & Engineering and Chemistry.

Chen develops the next generation of sensors, actuators, energy conversion and storage devices by using novel nanostructured and bio-inspired functional materials. His recent work on water-responsive materials and evaporation-driven engines opens up a new field in energy harvesting and provides opportunities towards solving current challenges in sustainable energy, energy storage, clean water, robotics and medical technologies.

The state of the art core facilities housed at the CUNY ASRC allow Chen to further expand his research in new directions. Thanks to the cutting edge NanoFabrication Facility and others, Chen has the opportunity to build upon his early research in his field.

“We are extremely proud of Xi’s richly deserved achievement. He is an outstanding young scientist with a truly original and creative research program which holds great promise for clean energy generation. We are thrilled that he joined us here at CUNY ASRC and we look forward to his continued success,” Nanoscience Initiative Director Rein V. Ulijn said.

A graduate of Tsinghua University in Beijing, Chen completed his PhD at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey prior to his postdoctoral work at Columbia University. Chen joined the CUNY ASRC in August 2016, and also holds an assistant professorship in The City College of New York’s Department of Chemical Engineering.


The City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (CUNY ASRC) is a University-wide venture that elevates CUNY’s legacy of scientific research and education through initiatives in five distinctive, but increasingly interconnected disciplines: Nanoscience, Photonics, Structural Biology, Neuroscience and Environmental Sciences. The center is designed to promote a unique, interdisciplinary research culture with researchers from each of the initiatives working side by side in the CUNY ASRC’s core facilities, sharing equipment that is among the most advanced available.