Associate Professor, University of Arizona, USA
Country of birth: China
Educational Background: PhD and BS Optical Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, China
What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in optical engineering and information display technologies, supervise undergraduate and graduate students on research projects, and mentor post-doctoral associates. My research focuses on the creation, development, and assessment of innovative 2D and 3D display technologies, visualization systems and human computer interfaces, and novel image acquisition systems. I participate in conference organization, paper reviews, and other volunteer activities. I also write papers, research proposals, etc., and travel to conferences.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
While finishing my PhD, I realized I wanted to stay in academia. To have a successful academic career in the US, I needed to secure funding for an independent research program, and also adapt to a different language and culture. Luckily, I was awarded a three-year Beckman Fellowship at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The fellowship not only provided a generous startup package and a flexible platform to pursue my ideas, but also an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with many senior faculty and mentors. With the help of several senior faculty, I received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for my first-ever grant proposal about a year after my PhD. Also important, I have a very supportive family. All these factors paved my path to fulfill my career dreams.
Do you have advice for young women considering a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)?
Know what your dreams are and shoot for them. Nothing is impossible if you work hard. Find good mentors early on who are willing to share their wisdom and save you from mistakes. Academia is a life-long challenge but
very rewarding - especially impacting others through teaching, research innovations, and discoveries.