Graduate Students Honored At Annual Crest & Fest

Xufeng Zhang and Thibault Bertrand – both graduate students of Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science - were honored Tuesday by SEAS Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick at the annual Crest & Fest celebration.

Xufeng Zhang, a Ph.D. student in Prof. Hong Tang's lab in Electrical Engineering, was awarded this year's Henry Prentiss Becton Prize, awarded for exceptional achievement in research. At Yale, he has conducted research in magnonics, optomechanics, integrated photonics, and other related fields. This research required that he master nanofabrications, computer simulations, and many other skills. Prof. Tang referred to him as "a guru of microwave engineering."

The caliber of his research, combined with an academic record of "straight A's in all of his PhD courses" led the Electrical Engineering department to nominate Zhang for the award. Jung Han, chair of Electrical Engineering, noted that Zhang's research has helped propel Prof. Tang's lab to a leading position in magnonics, a new field that combines waves and magnetism to investigate the behavior of spin waves in nanostructures.

Zhang's dissertation addresses magnon-based information transduction in a magnetic insulator, focusing on the coherent spin waves using microwaves, acoustic waves, and light.

Prof. Tang described Zhang as "truly exceptional, an expert in nanofabrication and precision instrumentation." In addition, he said Xufeng was well known for his collegiality, concern for others, and sense of teamwork. During his time at Yale, Zhang published 11 high-quality journal articles, with four first-authored papers in such top journals as Physical Review Letters, Nature Communications, and Science Advances. Earlier this year, Xufeng won the Chinese Government Award, which recognizes the top Chinese students studying abroad.

Thibault Bertrand is the winner of this year's Harding Bliss Prize, which is awarded to a graduating PhD student who has done the most to further the intellectual life of the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Bertrand has proven himself exceptional in his field of study in Mechanical Engineering, where he studied granular material interactions with Prof. Corey O'Hern. He has also proven exceptional in mentoring, teaching, and outreach initiatives that further graduate life in the School of Engineering.

"Thibault is a gifted teacher and student member, and his skills in numerical simulations and physical insights are among the best that I have seen in Yale students," Prof. O'Hern wrote in his nomination letter for Bertrand. Other faculty members noted his skills as an educator and the vital role they played in developing a new course. Another commented that "we value Thibault's abilities to such a high degree that we consider him to be a full partner on the teaching team." Others noted that he is a great resource to all students working on all projects, and adds to the uniqueness and collaborative spirit of Yale Engineering.

His many contributions included collaborating with a number of labs, exceptional service as a teaching fellow, and as a technical advisor (in official and unofficial capacities) for a number of engineering and performance projects.