NAME: Jiayang Yan
EDUCATION: B.S., University of Science of Technology of China (USTC); MA & PhD (ongoing) in Physics, Stony Brook University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Accelerator Physics (Plasma Wakefield Acceleration)
CURRENT RESEARCH: In 2012, physicists were exciting when the Higgs boson particle was discovered at CERN on Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider lying in a 27-kilometer tunnel in circumference. Future high energy research requests a much more powerful machine than LHC, however the construction of which is constrained by its giant size (hundreds of kilometers in circumference). I’m working on beam driven plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA), a novel technique to accelerate charged particles to extremely high energy (GeV) level within meter-scale, which promises to make future colliders more compact and affordable. My project focuses on getting a collider-quality accelerated electron beam using a method called beam-induced ionization injection (BIII), in which the accelerated beam is ionized by the space charge field of the drive beam then trapped and accelerated at the back of the plasma bubble.
FUTURE GOALS:I want to keep working on research at labs.
Why did you want to be a part of GWiSE?
I felt kind of alone when I found there were only a few female incoming graduate students in physics. After I know about GWiSE, I want to gain support and help to support more female students in STEM majors. I’m also excited to make more friends!
What/who got you interested in your field?
I was inspired by a female Chinese American experimental physicist, Chien-Shiung Wu (Chinese, 吴健雄,1912–1997) who is known as the “First Lady of Physics”, the “Chinese Madame Curie”. She made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu was the only female scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project and her best famous for proving that parity is not conserved experimentally, the discovery of resulted in her colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, while Wu herself was awarded the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. (The CN Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at SBU is named after Chen-Ning Yang.) After learning about her story at high school, I really admired her and wished to become an experimental physicist. Then, when I was an undergrad, I took a fundamental accelerator physics class and after doing some in-class projects I got interested in the topics. After that I decided to continue my PhD on accelerator physics.
When did you know you were interested in pursuing a degree in science/engineering?
When I was very young. Under the influence of my father, an engineer, I got more and more interests in science.
What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science/engineering?
I think it’s needed to break the sex bias in education in the society, as sometimes higher educated women are discriminated and get less job opportunities than men. Also, the stereotype that male students are more talented in science/engineering majors prevent many young female students from choosing STEM. Young female students need more supports, like more peer communication opportunities and mentors from advanced female students.
Favorite way to spend a free day:
I will go skiing with friends every one or two weeks after Thanksgiving. I’m still a beginner. I wish I will be able to challenge the black line in the following winter. If I have several free days and there is no pandemic, I will make a plan for a trip. I like traveling.
Most interesting place you have visited:
Geneva. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been! I really enjoyed my time there as a summer student at CERN.
Favorite thing to do on Long Island:
I like to check out interesting places and take a half-day trip during the weekend. I also like to go to NYC. There are many interesting places that I haven’t visited yet in the city. But the super slow and inconvenient LIRR strongly discourage me to do so .
If you didn’t have to sleep what would you do with the free time?
I would like to get together with several friends and play card games, which is unfortunately impossible during the quarantine. Reading books and listening to audiobooks/audio dramas published by Big Finish are also on my list!
If you could only live in one area (city/beach/mountains/desert/plains) for the rest of your life, where would you live and why?
Metropolis. Convenient public transportation, more options for food, shopping and entertainment as well as more interesting places/events.