Before studying in the US, Dr. Yi Yang had never been abroad. But she trusted her instincts, the encouragement of her family, and a chance to pursue her dreams to find success in her Ph.D. program. Today she's putting her skills in mass spectrometry to work at Nova and inspiring other young women to pursue careers in the sciences.
Yi, Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Beijing and attended graduate school in the US at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York. At Stony Brook, I earned my Ph.D. in physical chemistry. My research was focused on mass spectrometry, instrumentation, and atmospheric new particle formation. I really enjoyed mass spectrometry and instrumentation in general. That’s why when I was looking for a job, I specifically searched for those keywords, and that’s how I found Nova on LinkedIn. I then joined Nova in March 2021.
What was the subject area of your first and second degrees?
I studied chemistry in college and completed my master’s at the same university in Beijing. After that, I went to the US to complete my Ph.D.
What made you decide to move to a new country to study?
My parents encouraged me to consider studying abroad, as they didn’t have this opportunity themselves.
I was a little bit hesitant to go abroad after finishing my master’s, but they really encouraged me to. And to be honest, I miss them a lot.
Tell us a little about your experience moving to a new country and studying in a different language and culture.
Moving to the USA was a big change in my life. This was not only my first time in the USA but actually my first time abroad.
I learned a lot during this journey. I had the privilege to work on my Ph.D. in a very friendly environment. The lab team, the group I joined, and my advisor were all very welcoming. In our small research group, I was the only foreign student. All of my group members were US natives, including our host, my advisor, and my fellow students. We are still in touch to this day.
My advisor, particularly, is a good friend and someone I respect greatly. He was very helpful and shared all his knowledge to support me during my PhD studies. He encouraged me to write papers and take on professional speaking engagements. This helped me build my confidence, and eventually, I became the first Ph.D. to graduate from our group.
This positive experience is what led to me joining Nova.
What made you go into the field of chemistry?
I think I am an observant person. I tend to notice those little changes in my environment and all the details. In addition, I like doing experiments. I liked chemistry already in high school. But to be honest, before college, I was debating between chemistry and literature.
So I chose English as my double major in college. And then, I went on to earn my M.S. in chemistry.
Now that you’ve been at Nova for a year and a half, what is it that makes you choose Nova every day?
I studied mass spectrometry in graduate school and really liked it. I would like to work on mass spectrometers in my career. I choose Nova because I learn new things every day and contribute with my experience and knowledge.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
As you know, the semiconductor industry requires a lot of knowledge, skill, and experience, and I am young and still do not have much experience. In the future, my goal is one day to become an expert in the mass spectrometry instrument field.
You just recently moved to another position. What are you going to do now?
Previously I was a tech support engineer, mainly providing support wherever I was needed. In my new position, I work as a systems engineer. In this position, I define how some functions should be performed and assure the quality of each function along the way.
What kind of welcome did you receive at Nova when you joined?
The second most important reason I enjoy working every day is my colleagues. The team I’m working with are people I respect very much due to their kindness and hard work. They are incredibly friendly. These people have several decades of experience in this field and are willing to share their knowledge and support me in my everyday work.
If you had to choose one thing that characterizes you most- what would it be?
I always feel like I just need to keep going. Especially since completing my Ph.D., I have a deeper understanding of this because sometimes you must face and resolve the problem yourself. And you simply have to be persistent enough to solve it.