Wanna know more about the Jena-Xing group, Ithaca and Cornell?

Interested in joining the Jena-Xing research group

Our research group typically recruits 4-6 new PhD students each year from a number of fields of Graduate Studies.  That is right: fields not departments. “At Cornell, graduate study is organized using a field structure. Fields are composed of faculty members from a number of departments who come together around a shared intellectual interest, and may draw from different campuses or colleges”.  For instance, our current PhD students are from the following fields: Applied Engineering Physics (AEP), Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (CHEME), Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), Materials Science & Engineering (MSE), Physics. “The Cornell system of graduate education is built on a belief and tradition grounded in academic freedom that encourages students to work across departments, disciplines, and colleges.”  At the time of application, a prospective graduate student must choose one field to apply, which is closely related to the student’s background degree(s) but needs not to be the same.  Which field should you apply?  The answer often lies with two primary factors: preparation for the Q-exam and types of scientific questions one desires to pursue in the PhD study.  

A field of Graduate Studies is often adminstrated by a department, e.g. the MSE field through the MSE department. However, in the MSE field, there are 40+ faculty to choose from as graduate school advisors while in the MSE department, there are only about 20 faculty members that govern all aspects of the MSE affairs.  Each Field of Graduate Studies typically has several sub-fields. A PhD student candidate, once admitted into the field, needs to pass the qualifying exam (Q exam) that usually takes place in the first year and consists of a series of fundamental courses or exams (either written or oral) of that sub-field.  For more details, please consult the program description or handbook of that field.  The onboarding process of a new PhD student in the Jena-Xing group is also customerized according to the requirements of that field.  However, by default unless approved by Profs. Jena or Xing otherwise, all PhD students @Cornell who desire to join the Jena-Xing research group must enroll in Prof. Jena’s course – Semiconductor Device Physics (ECE 5360) and Prof. Xing’s course – Nanofabrication Lecture (MSE 5411) in the Fall semester of their 1st year & Nanofabrication Lab (MSE5411) in the Fall (or Spring, when this option is available) semester of their 1st year.  PhD students are funded by the Jena-Xing group, fellowships or the equivalent.  

Our research group also recruits 2-4 new Master students each year from a number of fields of Graduate Studies.  There are 2 types of Master programs at Cornell Engineering: one is called Master of Engineering (MEng), and the other Master of Science (MS).  MEng is typically one-year long requiring completion of mostly course credits and a well defined project that is either through a company or a research group.  MS is typically two-year long with an immersive research project, which is designed to help students to gauge whether to pursue a PhD degree or not.  Currently, the MSE MS program is the most versatile for students who are considering a PhD but not sure yet.  Students with any STEM background can apply as long as there are suitable advisors among the MSE field faculty.  The degree requirements are also most flexible.  All Master students @Cornell who desire to join the Jena-Xing research group must enroll in Prof. Jena’s course – Semiconductor Device Physics (ECE 5360) and Prof. Xing’s course – Nanofabrication Lecture (MSE 5411) in the Fall semester of their 1st year & Nanofabrication Lab (MSE5411) in the Fall (or Spring, when this option is available) semester of their 1st year.  Master students are self-funded.

The Jena-Xing research group hosts a few undergraduate researchers each year.  For non-Cornell students, they are typically admitted by one of the REU programs through CCMR, CNF or others at Cornell; these positions are paid research internships.  For Cornell students, we recommend that one start as a volunteer for a semester, which helps a great deal on both sides to explore proper modes of operation and expectations.  After the volunteer phase, one can either take research for credit during an academic year or for pay year around.  1 credit for research corresponds to at least 3 hours per week on average dedicated to research over the entire semester, as a rough guideline for the grading purpose.  For pay, Cornell Engineering offers the ELI program for the Fall and Spring semesters as well as Summer; due to high demand, only Engineering Undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the ELI research internship fund.  The SUPREME research center, a SRC JUMP2.0 center, started in 2023 to offer “the Microelectronics UG Fellow” and “the Microelectronics UG travel grant” opportunities.

Currently, the Jena-Xing group does not host any high school students.  

Who to choose as advisor?  Each student in the Jena-Xing group has one primary advisor only, who is responsible in defining the research scope while the other faculty may or may not serve in the student’s thesis committee.  The Jena-Xing research laboratory shares resources from all PIs for conducting research; otherwise, each PI’s group operates like any others in the conventional sense.

 Suggested steps to get involved in the Jena-Xing research group for students already on campus

Each field has its own student-advisor matching process – please follow the process of your field.

– Read at least 2 publications of our research group (especially the “perspective” or recent Publications), and formulate your inclination toward certain research topics under “Research” (no more than 2).

– Email Prof. Jena or Prof. Xing (but not both in a single email) about your interests along with your resume, requesting to attend the weekly topical research meetings of the group.  Upon approval, you will receive the information of these meetings.

– Attend at least 3 times the group research meetings and equivalent (such as the MSE Grad Symposium talks/posters & the Lab tours at the beginning of the Fall semester, the EDS seminars during the academic year, the SUPREME talks presented by our group members etc.) to familiarize yourself with the current research topics and the research group.

– Meet at least once in-person with the potential advisor (including encounters with in-depth conversations taking place at departmental events).  If needed, consult the PIs’ availability calendar, email the group admin to help arrange a meeting with either Prof. Jena or Prof. Xing depending on the topics you want to get involved in.


Ithaca is located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, the second largest finger lake in New York state, and home to two private universities: Cornell University and Ithaca College.  Dotted by many gorges, waterfalls and creeks, water flows to Cayuga Lake then northward to Lake Ontario.  In Ithaca, you can find nearly all summer and winter sports, vibrant music, art and writing communities, and a diverse population.

Some fun facts: do you know that Ithaca was the “Hollywood” before the movie industry moved from East coast to West coast?  Do you know the movement of “locally sourced produces” started from Ithaca?  Do you know one of the 13 most influential restaurants in the 20th century is Moosewood, in Ithaca downtown, acclaimed for its creative vegetarian cooking?  One of the Jena-Xing group alumni claimed that one of his favorite sports in Ithaca is the International Rutabaga Curling Championship – annually held at the Farmer’s Market.  Have fun exploring Ithaca, by yourself or with your friends!

Visit Ithaca

The Finger Lakes

Ithaca: the Best College Town to Live in

Ithaca: One of the Top Most Arts-Vibrant Cities

 Cornell Cooperative Extension (Buy-Local and Community-Supported-Agriculature)

Cornell University is for “Any Person Any Study”, founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and enrolled the first female student in 1870 – becoming the first coeducational school in the Ivy League.  This is about 100 years earlier than many other universities in US and worldwide.  Do you know that Seneca Falls Conventionwas the first women’s rights convention in the United States. Held in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, the meeting launched the women’s suffrage movement, which more than seven decades later ensured women the right to vote.”?  BTW, Seneca Falls is a town located at the northern tip of Cayuga Lake.

Video Introduction to Cornell (celebration of 150 years of Cornell @2015)

Facts and Numbers about Cornell University

Facts and Numbers about Cornell Engineering

Belonging at Cornell (through the Graduate School site)

Cornell Outdoor Education (a great place to make friends, build team or just have some fun)

Cornell Daily Sun (the independent, student-run newspaper to keep abreast of what is going on at Cornell and Ithaca)