Alumni Research

September 9, 2013 at 11:25 am

From China to Athens to Prestigious Post-Doc in Germany

By Jean Andrews
Physics & Astronomy

Yinyun Li '13PhD

Yinyun Li ’13PhD

Physics and Astronomy doctoral student Yinyun Li ’13PhD, current holder of the department’s Y.-C. Chang Graduate Fellowship, has accepted a post-doctoral position beginning this fall in Germany, at the Georg-August-University Gӧttingen.

“Yinyun has an outstanding record of academic achievement in our Ph.D. program, with an overall GPA of 3.87. She has also done groundbreaking research under Professor Peter Jung’s supervision. One of her papers is already published in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience, and she has several more publications in preparation. The Graduate Committee felt that Yinyun’s excellence in coursework and research made her an ideal candidate for the fellowship,” said Graduate Chair Dr. Daniel Phillips.

The fellowship was established by OHIO alumna Ying-Chien Chang’73 MS, a retired Federal Hocking High School mathematics teacher. In addition to earning a master’s degree in Mathematics from Ohio University, Chiang holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, earned in Taiwan.

Y.C. Chang Fellowship awardee YinYun Li (center) with her advisor, Distinguished Professor of Physics Peter Jung (left) and the fellowship’s sponsor, Ms. Ying-Chien Chang (right).

Y.C. Chang Fellowship awardee YinYun Li (center) with her adviser, Distinguished Professor of Physics Peter Jung (left) and the fellowship’s sponsor, Ying-Chien Chang (right).

Li attributes her interest in science to encouragement she received as a young child. Growing up in the rural village of Dongguchen in Hebei Province, Li was inspired by a teacher in her primary school to study mathematics and science. Later as a graduate student at Beijing Normal University in China, Li received a prestigious four-year scholarship from the Chinese government to study abroad. A total of three students from Beijing Normal received the scholarship that year. One chose to study in Germany, another traveled to France, and Li chose Ohio University. All three students were women; all three studied physics, and all three shared the same dorm room at Beijing Normal.

By the time she was ready to leave China, Li had developed a keen interest in medical science. She was drawn to the work of Ohio University’s Distinguished Professor of Physics Dr. Peter Jung, whose areas of expertise include non-linear dynamics and theoretical and computational biophysics. In 2008, Li flew directly from Beijing to Athens and began her graduate program, later developing a focus on the human nervous system and nerve disorders.

At OHIO, Li has been mentored by Jung “in logical thinking and to pay strict attention to details, especially in programming the code. Dr. Jung trained me to ask the relevant biophysical questions, how to simplify these questions and articulate the problems, and how to efficiently solve the problems,” she said.

Biophysics with Peter Jung

This September, Li moves to Georg-August-University Gӧttingen, in central Germany, to study with Professor Floretin Wӧrgӧtter, a respected computational neuroscientist in the fields of experimental and theoretical sensor research.

“Gӧttingen is a fantastic place to start my career. To date, 45 Nobel Prize laureates have studied, taught or made contributions there. Most of these prizes were given in the first half of the 20th century, which became known as the “Gӧttingen Nobel prize wonder,” Li said.

As the first-generation college student in her family, Li has come a long way academically and geographically. She is deeply grateful to her parents for their steadfast moral support. “My father is a self-employed driver, and my mother is a homemaker and wheat farmer. They are high school graduates, and they offered me the best education possible.”

As she leaves Ohio University with a Ph.D., Li reflects about her time in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “One of my favorite memories I’ll take with me is sitting in the TAs’ office with other physics graduate students, discussing homework and enjoying each other’s company. Here the faculty members are knowledgeable and kind. It seems like a hometown to me; some of my classmates are like my brothers and sisters.”

Watch a video about biophysics with Jung and his graduate students.

By Jean Andrews, Special Projects Assistant, Department of Physics and Astronomy

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