ECS Podcast – Yue Kuo, Leader in Solid State Science

Yue Kuo’s work in solid state science has yielded many innovations and has made a tremendous mark on the scientific community. Since his arrival at ECS in 1995, Kuo was named an ECS Fellow, was recently named Vice President of the Society, previously served as an associate editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, and is currently one of the technical editors of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology. Additionally, Kuo received the ECS Gordon E. Moore Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Solid State Science and Technology at the 227th ECS Meeting.

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Five Questions for Yue Kuo
“Life is sometimes determined not by us.”

How did you become interested in the sciences?
It’s interesting. When talking about studying science, it’s strongly related to the background I came from. If you notice, a lot of people at my age that come from Asia usually study science and engineering. There is a reason for that. I am Chinese, and before I was born there was very big news; the first Chinese to ever get a Nobel prize. That stimulated the society to generate people’s interest in the study of science. Also, since childhood we were told that science is the most important field to improve society. Very naturally, under that environment, people are going to study science.

What lead you to the United States and Columbia University?
Columbia University, in Chinese history, is very famous. It had a big influence for the 20th century. There are some Columbia alumni who are very successful in China. The reputation is very good. After I graduated from college I had to serve in the military for two years, then I decided to go to a foreign country to study. I had a chance to go to different countries and I applied for U.S. universities and got five scholarships. I really appreciated the opportunity, so I decided to come to America. Of that, Columbia was the one that was a really exciting university.

How did you get involved in electrochemistry?
The time in which I graduated from college in Taiwan, you had no choice if you were male—you had to go serve in the military for two years. Today it is different. Even serving in the military is competitive. At that time, you graduate from college and you have to pass an exam. If you pass the exam, you could become an officer. If you don’t pass the exam, you become a solider. There were several hundred with me, probably a thousand. Only 32 people passed the exam to become chemical warfare officers for the Chinese. Not only did I get into the field, but I was sent to the factory. That’s related to ECS, believe it or not, because the factory is making batteries. So I got involved with electrochemistry very early in 1974.

When did you begin your involvement with ECS?
Life is sometimes determined not by us. While I was working in the factory, I went to the library and saw the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES). I started in electrochemistry with battery and my first contact with a professional was JES.

Do you think ECS has an important role in the future?
Why is ECS different from other societies? What makes this journal different from other journals? From almost 40 years of experience, I can tell the unique part of ECS is interdisciplinary. When you go to an ECS conference and see papers, they are authored by people with all different backgrounds. It’s fundamentally science based. The science base is reliable and repeatable. If you look at ECS members who attend conferences, it’s different than many other societies in that we have diversity.

Articles of Interest:

PS: Check out Kuo’s research in the Digital Library!

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