When I was a high school student, I wanted to become a surgeon like my mother. Every time I witnessed the magnitude of change in the quality of patients’ lives affected by her, I felt an overwhelming urge to try to bring about similar positive change in the world. To fulfill this dream, starting from sophomore year of my undergraduate study, I worked as a summer intern in the Ophthalmology Department in the 145th Hospital of China, where I received systematic clinical training, including performing microscopic surgery on animal eyes. This experience provided me with a great opportunity to have firsthand experience in both clinical trials and biomedical research.

However, it was also during this time that I became aware of the severe limitations that hamper clinicians – many human diseases cannot be treated by current therapeutic methods, due to the lack of basic knowledge of biological systems. Consequently, I came to realize that although a doctor could treat illness on a case by case basis, a scientist could potentially influence the course of millions of people’s lives by elucidating the mechanism of disease onset and progression. The latter is the exact field to which I wished to devote myself.

In my graduate school, I decided to pursue a PhD in biophysics. Initially trained as a biologist, cells often seem too complex to be understood by math and physics. But rapid development of advanced technology during the last decade allows us to study biology in highly quantitative ways, and it opens a brand new window of how I view biology. I was fascinated by learning how fundamental physics approaches can be applied to answer complicated questions in biological systems. Imagine cell being a complicated molecular factory, with all the workers coordinate with each other, performing precise functions: Motor proteins carrying a huge cargo on its shoulder walking along their track, converting chemical energy into mechanical movement; a two meter long DNA in each of our cells being precisely compacted a million fold along its length into chromosomes form, every time a cell divides.

My thesis project is designed to illustrate how the long DNA fiber is compacted into chromosome form, and identify the key player (proteins) critical for this large-scale compaction. This question has been an outstanding problem of cell biology, because any error in chromosome compaction may lead to many genetic disease and cancers.

In my spare time, I like to do photography and painting. I really enjoy viewing the world through different lenses. I also like to travel, in particular to different cultures. I find it fascinating to experience different cultures through the people, their food and languages.