Graduate Student Spotlight: Lilia Xie

Categories: Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Lilia Xie describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Lilia Xie comes to MIT by way of Holmdel, New Jersey, and is finishing up her third year in the Chemistry graduate program, where she is a member of Professor Mircea Dincă’s research lab. Lilia’s research focuses on electrically conductive metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Specifically, she is synthesizing new conductive frameworks and studying how certain structural motifs (such as ligand pi-stacking patterns), as well as defect concentrations and donor-acceptor interactions, dictate their transport properties. Seeing as the vast majority of MOFs are electrically insulating, Lilia hopes that her work can eventually lead to general strategies to control and harness the properties of conductive MOFs.

As a Graduate Student Spotlight for July 2018, Lilia divulges the superstition she believes in, the thing she’s looking forward to most about the next decade, the stereotype she lives up to, and much more!


1. What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
Giving tours of the Taza Chocolate Factory.

2. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
The stationery section at Muji.

3. What superstition do you believe in?
I am somewhat irrationally obsessive about putting on sunscreen.

4. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
Bring on the self-driving cars!

5. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
My parents.

6. Who is the most famous person you have met?
I had lunch with former Secretary of Energy (and MIT prof) Ernie Moniz last semester.

7. Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
As an undergrad, I had a blast doing research in Bob Cava’s lab at Princeton, where I learned a lot about solid state chemistry, got comfortable with taking samples out of a 1000 ºC oven, and worked with amazing mentors. I knew I wanted to continue working on materials chemistry in some capacity in grad school, in addition to learning new synthesis and characterization techniques. The Dincă lab checked all of these boxes.

8. What are your top three favorite movies?
Up, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The Shining.

9. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I would love to go to New Zealand.

10. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
Meryl Streep, Ali Wong, and Yo-Yo Ma.

11. Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Sufjan Stevens.

12. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
Hogwarts, preferably without the dungeons and the Chamber of Secrets.

13. What bends your mind every time you think about it?

14. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
Ina Garten.

15. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

16. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
A writer.

17. Who, besides your parents, has had the greatest impact on your life?
My music teachers and people I’ve played music with.

18. What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
I recently went to Mount Rainier National Park with my family and it was gorgeous.

19. What stereotype do you completely live up to?
I am a millennial and I am not ashamed to love avocados.

20. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
Planet Earth on infinite repeat.


Many thanks to Lilia for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!