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Dan-Xia Xu

Senior Research Officer, National Research Council Canada
Country of birth: China

Educational background: BSc Physics Department, University of Science & Technology of China; PhD Electrical Engineering, Linköping University, Sweden

Dan-Xia XuWho or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
When I was a kid, my parents bought me a set of storybooks called ‘小问号的故事' (The stories of Little Query). They are popular science books about a little girl asking all sorts of questions. I was fascinated and that curiosity stayed with me. Science and innovation became the natural place to develop my career.

What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
I work in a team-oriented and multidisciplinary research lab. We develop microchips that use photons (the quantum of light) to achieve different functions. For example, we developed biochip sensors that can rapidly identify pathogen bacteria in food and water. I work with experts in physics, chemistry, and biology and coordinate our research activities. Another important research field for me is photonic components that increase the data bandwidth on the Internet. I am also an adjunct professor with Carleton University (Canada) and I supervise students in their research work. I write research papers, give presentations at conferences and workshops, and network with scientists from academia and industry. I also work with colleagues from other countries to organize international conferences.

Do you have advice for young women considering a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)?
Life is about positive experiences. If science is what interests you, go for it. Positive experiences also come from other
aspects of life, like friends, family, and hobbies. This sounds cliché, but it really is more about the journey and not just the destination. When facing tough choices, keep this in mind.