Yiqi Yang honored for outstanding achievement in textile science

Three individuals dressed in business attire pose for a photo. One individual, in the center holds a large plague, and another holds a wooden box displaying a gold medal.
Yiqi Yang receives the 2021 Olney Medal for Outstanding Achievment in Textile Science at the AATCC Textile Discovery Summit Oct. 6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Yiqi Yang honored for outstanding achievement in textile science

20 Oct 2022    

Yiqi Yang, Charles Bessey Professor in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, is the recipient of the 2021 Olney Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Textile Science from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). 

The Olney Medal is AATCC’s highest scientific award, established in 1944 in honor of Louis Atwell Olney, the founder and first president of AATCC. The award consists of a gold medal, a scroll, and an honorarium. Yang received the award at the AATCC Textile Discovery Summit in Charlotte, NC on Oct. 6, where he also delivered the traditional Olney Medal Address. His talk was titled, “A Step Towards a More Sustainable, Responsible and Profitable Textile Industry.” 

Yang’s contributions to textile science include the development of new biobased fibers and textile chemicals from agricultural wastes and co-products, and cleaner productions in coloration and finishing. His pioneering research on new biofibers such as 100% protein fibers from poultry feathers, and stereo-complexed PLA fiber with excellent resistance to hydrolysis during high temperature textile processes are examples of his work.

A prolific researcher, Yang has spent his career in the Midwest, working with farming communities to take what would be considered unusable waste and transforming it into a clean, sustainable, usable product. Yang, along with his collaborators, found a way to transform chicken feathers, a large waste product, into textile fibers that can be incorporated into fabrics. 

Yang’s research has also uncovered a way to create plastics that are biodegradable through plant-based alternatives found in the textiles and materials industry. Yang and his lab began to collaborate with researchers from Jiangnan University in China in the early 2000s on this concept. Through their research, they discovered that polylactic acid or polylactide, found in cornstarch and other plants, is a more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

Throughout his career, Yang has worked with his students and collaborators to find ways to create a more “sustainable and environmentally responsible textile industry.” His research in agricultural products and co-products have had far-reaching impacts locally, nationally, and internationally.

Yang has written 285 refereed journal articles and numerous refereed conference and proceeding papers. He authored one book, edited two books, and wrote numerous book chapters. He has eight patents and several patent applications. He has over 190 national and international news interviews and media reports. 

A member of AATCC since 1990, Yang chairs the AATCC Foundation Student Research Support Grant Program and Review Board and has handled this annual program since 2005. He also has served as the faculty advisor of the AATCC Student Chapter at Nebraska since 2003.

To view Yang’s presentation from the Olney Medal Address, click here.

College of Education and Human Sciences
Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design