Zhe XingStructures Section
Supervised by Professor Leroy Gardner

Prior to starting her PhD, Zhe completed her MSc studies also in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College. She was awarded with a Chinese Government Scholarship to undertake her PhD studies.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering?

I really enjoyed my time with the lecturers and my classmates during the MSc. They are supportive and friendly. At the end of my MSc I had the opportunity to take an experimental project with Prof. Gardner, which triggered my curiosity in research and enabled me to continue an in-depth study. Thus, I decided to do a PhD here.

Tell us about your PhD research

Stainless steel displays higher strength and stiffness retention at elevated temperatures in comparison to carbon steel, resulting in enhanced structural fire performance for stainless steel structures; this is increasingly being recognised by the construction and offshore industries. However, previous research investigations have focused only on the structural response of carbon steel at elevated temperatures, and the structural response of stainless steel in fire remains relatively unexplored. My work primarily focuses on the structural behaviour of stainless steel in fire on both cross-section and member levels. Until now I have conducted many related fire tests and massive parametric numerical studies. Based on these results, I proposed some new design approaches for stainless steel in fire and they will be incorporated into the future revision of the Eurocode EN 1993-1-2.

What impact do you hope you research will have/what do you hope your research will lead on to?

I hope my research enables engineers to accurately consider the influence of fire conditions when they design stainless steel structures. In addition, although our team has done a lot research on this field, relevant researches are still rather limited. It would be great if my research can inspire more researchers to work on this topic.

What is a typical week like for you?

Every week has variety and is a challenge, including not only investigations using experiments and numerical modelling, but also revising clauses in the next revision of the Eurocodes.  Reading papers and having a regular meeting with my supervisor are also necessary every week.

How have your skills developed, both professional and personal?

During my PhD studies, my analysis and problem-solving abilities have improved significantly due to having to process large amounts of information on related research, design experiments, and form independent conclusions. In addition, my written and oral communication skills have also enhanced as I have had opportunities to attend regular meetings, seminars and conferences, during which I have learnt how to organize my ideas effectively in oral presentations and prepare concise and logically written papers.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD in the Department?

My PhD is like an exciting journey for me. At Imperial, I have a chance to work with the people from different cultural backgrounds, and I enjoy the collision between different thinking. As I overcome problems in an unexplored area of research it gives me a real sense of accomplishment and builds confidence.