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Mechanical engineer Gu leads ADVANCE hires

Linxia Gu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the first hire through the ADVANCE-Nebraska office. Her research is aimed at improving stents used to aid blood flow. Photo by Carole Wilbeck/Engineering.

Linxia Gu's focus on vascular mechanics also applies to the larger concept of a pipeline for women in engineering. And, like the stents she works to improve, Gu's work also enhances paths for female engineers.

Gu is UNL's first hire through the ADVANCE-Nebraska office - which promotes hiring, retaining and promoting female faculty in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. She is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Gu's ideas for her career began when she was 15, growing up in the Henan province of central China.

"I had a physics class I loved," Gu said. "The teacher was great, and she let me be her assistant, helping to collect homework. I enjoyed when she would talk more about physics."

Gu earned her undergraduate engineering degree at Xi'an Jiaotong University in China, an institution with which UNL now has a cooperative agreement. Next she gained her master's in engineering at Dalian University of Technology. Gu then worked in Tongji University's Engineering and Technology Department (previously part of Shanghai Railway University) as a lecturer on topics such as the mechanics of material, and parametric optimization of thermal systems for combined heat and power plants.

In 2000, Gu and her husband moved to the U.S. and studied at the University of Florida. She earned her Ph.D. in 2004; as a research assistant, she further shaped her engineering studies by working with a neurosurgeon on vascular mechanics.

In 2006, Gu joined the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology as an assistant professor, teaching machine design and biomechanics. She continued to develop her expertise in computational mechanics and use of experimental tools to validate models, along with material characterization, for minimally-invasive medical devices.

Following her husband's UNL hire in construction management in 2007, Gu looked to continue her career at UNL.

The ADVANCE program quickly became a great resource, as Gu recently joined her family in Lincoln and began work as an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, with part of the support coming from the ADVANCE funding.

While equipping her lab and pursuing research proposals, Gu is now interviewing graduate and undergraduate students to work with her, and looks forward to teaching this fall. She also hopes to draw high school students and teachers to her lab, to show that "engineering can be fun." (Her 11-year-old son sometimes agrees.)

"I hope to build my career here," she said. "The ADVANCE lectures and networking are very helpful for developing my career."

Gu has quickly found her colleagues to be very supportive in the department and in the College of Engineering, adding to her career development.

She plans to collaborate with other faculty members and has already made connections with the UNMC College of Dentistry at East Campus.

"It feels good knowing that my work helps people," Gu said.

She thinks that is the kind of motivation that draws women to science. And, by example and through her actions, she hopes to encourage more women to consider engineering.


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