Yu Du

image of Yi Du

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec)
Research Team Leader


Tsinghua University, BSE Environmental Science and Engineering, 2012
University of Michigan, MSE Chemical Engineering, 2014


Right after I graduated from U-M, I was offered my very first job from ConocoPhillips and became a petrophysicist at the R&D department in Houston. As a petrophyicist, I studied how hydrocarbons and water distribute in core samples (rocks that we drill up from thousands of feet beneath the surface). Interpreted various measurements of the samples and built models to predict fluid properties in porous media. I also used these findings to support business units during their field explorations.  In 2017, I went back to China and joined Sinopec to work on catalyst recovery research, and to help build a new research center focusing on industrial petrochemical catalysts.  Recently, other than R&D projects, I also started as a liaison at our international department, working on global collaboration. My current job heavily relies on what I’ve learned during my graduate studies at Michigan, especially the catalyst projects I did with Professor Johannes Schwank, as well as my experience at the R&D center in ConocoPhillips.

How does you master’s degree differentiate you from others?

My master’s degree stands as proof that have survived some very tough courses, training, research projects, and all other challenges this program has set up for me. Master’s degree training does not suffice all the requirements of your career, but it measures the level of your learning ability and earns you a better chance to start your first position so that you can continuously learn on the job.  Another thing I appreciate about the program is that it prepared me for many opportunities I didn’t even know. I was very nervous about my first job as a petrophysicist because I thought I know mothering about rocks.  But as I started, I realized that I could borrow what I’ve learned from courses such as transport phenomena fluid mechanics, and reaction to understand the fluid behaviors in rocks. Similar things also happened when I began to build a new research center in 2017. My recollection of being a GSI and assistant lab supervisor for ChE 360 came back to my aid and brought me many great ideas to design my lab. I think the experience from the master’s program truly empowered me with the knowledge and confidence to take on new tasks throughout my career.

time spent at U-M

I still cherish every single minute of my study and stay at Michigan.  There are so many moments that I would like to relive in my memory: The department barbecue welcome party for new students, the blue and yellow wave (as well the bad traffic) during football season, giving my first lecture as a GSI, applying for a fellowship, even the sleepless-24hr-take-home final exam of ChE 542. But my favorite part above all is that back at U-M, I was lucky to have the best teachers, classmates, and friends that I can think of. Working with those brilliant minds was more than inspiring. Even now, whenever I hear a “Go Blue,” I know that is a fellow “Wolverine” cheering and being proud of our alma mater, and that warms my heart. As for advice, I know we’ve all said thinks like “I will never use this in my life so why learn it,” but my experience told me the opposite. So, learn and absorb as much as you can because you never know when you will use it. And of course, GO BLUE!