In the small city of Hong Jiang, Hunan Province, China, Lan Yang’s hometown, the Washington University School of Engineering professor is an inspiring role model for students, especially young girls.
Lan Yang, PhD, the Edward H. and Florence G. Skinner Professor in the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, has blazed a remarkably swift career path in photonics and nanoparticles where her results have turned physics notions atop their venerable heads.
Yang enrolled in a special class for gifted youth at the University of Science and Technology of China, earning a bachelor’s degree in materials science and a master’s in solid state physics, and was admitted to the fabled technology giant, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where she first saw the light.
“I resolved that I wanted to do work that influences others and impacts the world, and I thought that light is a wonderful thing that enables many important discoveries.”
— Lan Yang, PhD
“I was searching for a focus for my doctoral work when light resonated with me,” she says. “I resolved that I wanted to do work that influences others and impacts the world, and I thought that light is a wonderful thing that enables many important discoveries.”
Yang changed her degree from materials science to applied physics.
In the near future, Yang intends to integrate electronics with photonics. She plans to collaborate more with medical school researchers, for example, to trace the drug release profile of a single nanoparticle, which could be useful in disease detection or remediation.
Her message: “If you have the talent, let nothing stop you,” she says. “The stereotype that girls aren’t good at science and math still remains in China. This is puzzling to girl students, as the differences between individuals are larger than gender differences.”
Read the full story in Engineering Momentum: Attracted by light.