Jifu Tan

Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Jifu Tan

What year did you start working at NIU?
2017

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
I grew up in Anhui province, China. Currently I live in Sycamore, Illinois.

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I got my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University, and a master's and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. 

In which department(s) do you teach?
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Were you a first-generation college student?
Yes

What do you like about working at NIU?
I am fortunate to have some excellent undergraduate and graduate students helping me in my research. I also like the family-like environment at NIU where colleagues inside and outside of the college are helping me at all levels, including teaching tips, research collaborations and services. The access to high-performance computing facilities like the Gaea cluster at NIU and Theta at Argonne National Laboratory enables me to investigate complicated, large-scale biomechanics problems. 

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Talk to faculty members or other students if you struggle with studies or have no idea what you want to do in the future. You will be surprised to learn more about study tips and other career opportunities. 

Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
One research project is about modeling clot growth in blood flow. As the leading cause of death, blood clotting is strongly influenced by blood flow. Together with students, I'm studying clot growth under the impact of fluid flow, blood cell collision and platelet activations. This study will help us identify the key parameters that control the clot growth process and provide mathematical models to evaluate the risk of blood clotting. 

What do you hope students take away from your class?
You can forget the technical details from my class. (Who doesn’t?) However, I hope you can remember the big picture or the highlights of the subject, so you can quickly refresh yourself or pick it up when needed. 

What is your favorite campus event?
My favorite event is the annual engineering welcome back picnic where faculty and students gather to celebrate the new semester. 

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Having a basketball game between engineering faculty and students is my favorite memory so far. 

Who has influenced your professional path?
Many people influenced my professional path, starting with my parents and college professors. My Ph.D. adviser Dr. Yaling Liu introduced me to academia, and he is always there when I need help. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a painter when I was a little boy. Currently, I am not doing that. I changed to engineering because it is relatively easier to find a job. 

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am a member of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society, the U.S. Association of Computational Mechanics and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Being a member of these organizations keeps me updated with the latest research and technology in the field. Some of them offer free membership to students for the first year. I recommend them to students. 

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am a campus champion in XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) to promote high-performance computing on campus. 

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I play basketball to relax and keep fit. I also like hiking and snowboarding. 

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