After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Lanzhou University in Gansu province, China, Zaili Hou became a Polymer Ph.D. student in the UConn IMS Polymer Program. With a desire to focus his research on hybrid functional materials, Zaili joined Dr. Luyi Sun’s research group in 2018.
Hybrid functional materials, which consist of two or more distinct components with unique physical and chemical properties, exhibit synergistic properties, making them highly versatile and suitable for applications in various fields, including energy, healthcare, optics, and electronics. Zaili’s research led him to his dissertation topic, “Hybrid Functional Materials with Multiscale Architecture Design.” He successfully defended his dissertation in March 2023 and earned his doctoral degree as a result.
Reflecting on his time at UConn Zaili noted that he received excellent training and felt a strong sense of community during his time in the UConn IMS Polymer Program, which left him with a very positive overall experience. He says he appreciated access to the numerous core labs in IMS and the training available from the technical staff. He felt that direct access to the instrumentation in those labs gave him a better understanding of the science and contributed to his successful research. He also emphasized that the multi-disciplinary foundation of IMS helped create a community with multiple perspectives on the research. In addition to disciplinary diversity, Zaili also enjoyed the cultural diversity found in IMS. This helped him learn about various religions, philosophies, and cultural practices around the world.
With a desire to contribute to a better planet, Zaili began his career with World Centric, a company dedicated to sustainable products. World Centric is creating compostable and sustainable products to help reduce plastic waste that currently pollutes our planet.
“I’m very excited about making contributions to this important cause and making practical applications of polymer science to real world issues,” Zaili said.