NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Tian Tang

Dr. Tian Tang

I try not to be intimidated by the status of the workplace and maintain confidence.

Professor, Mechanical Engineering
University of Alberta

Dr. Tian Tang is a Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Mechanics from Tsinghua University (2001) and PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University (2005). She worked as a Visiting Research Scientist in the Chemical Engineering Department at Lehigh University before she joined the University of Alberta (2007).

Dr. Tang’s research interests lie in the modeling and simulation of materials, especially materials and structures at micro- to nano- scales and in biological systems. She has received many awards, including the Alberta Ingenuity New Faculty Award (2009), Outstanding Young Adhesion Scientist Award by the Adhesion Society (2009), Early Accomplishment Award by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists in Alberta (2011), Canada Research Chair (2007 and renewed in 2013), and Martha Cook Piper Research Prize (2014).

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

Helping students (undergraduate and graduate) to build excellence towards their future career.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My work is on the modeling of materials, across different scales. I am always fascinated about how microscopic interactions between molecules can lead to meso- or macroscopic functionality of materials.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Engineering industries as well as academia.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

Yes. I try not to be intimidated by the status of the workplace and maintain confidence, and of course, a lot of hard work.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

1. I try to be a role model myself. 2. I participate in activities that promote diversity and gender equity in my workplace. I have served on several such committees.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

University of Alberta has quite a few successful programs, for example, WISEST (women in scholarships, engineering, science and technology), UA-WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering), WISER (Women in Science, Engineering & Research), which target different levels (pre-university, undergraduate, graduate).

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Follow your heart and interest, other seemingly intimidating factors will not be a problem.