The lure of beauty and purpose in physics

Physics is not only practical, but elegant too.

And someone who will vouch for that fact is Associate Professor Yan Jiao who is at the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials working for her Future Fellowship Project.

Associate Professor Yan Jiao

We’re celebrating her career and interests in the lead up to this year’s International Women’s Day.

It was the way that the logical elegance of all those many equations combined with its practical application that drew Yan to study physics as an undergraduate student. Not only does physics underpin many devices and technologies, on a personal level it opened up many opportunities for her after she graduated.

From here she took up a PhD in Chemical Engineering, relishing the chance to apply quantum mechanics knowledge to an applied area - molecular modelling of materials for various applications.

Yan is one of a growing cohort of women doing wonderful things in STEM.

Why does she love what she does?

I love working in STEM because I can solve problems using scientific/engineering tools and ways of thinking. What’s making it better is that the problems are different, so each day of my life is not the same. My favourite part of working in chemical engineering is that we are shaping the future by providing innovative solutions to emerging industries such as clean energy and quantum materials.

Does she have advice for her younger self?

I would say do things quicker and don’t be a perfectionist.

What is a personal or professional area that she strives to learn more about?

I would love to learn how to better motivate a team towards a challenging goal, how to identify risks quicker, and how to implement measures to prevent them from happening.

Name an achievement that makes you feel proud?

I received the Young Tall Poppy Science award in 2020 (which aims to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators) and promoted our research about discovering better energy materials for the future.

How do you unwind in your spare time?

I like to do a variety of things in my spare time. Anything from reading, solving a Rubik’s Cube, playing the piano, hiking, or gardening. They help to relieve pressure, and this is important to me.

It looks like Yan is getting the balance of pleasing and practical in her private life too.

We wish her all the best for an exciting year ahead.

Tagged in Women in STEM, Chemical Engineering, Women in STEM Alumni Network, international women's day