My name is Yang Yang, so my first name and my last name are the same in English. However, they are different in Chinese. My last name, "杨", which comes first in Chinese, is a very common family name in China. It is so common that my PhD advisor also has this last name. :) My first name, "阳", means the Sun. It also stands for the bright side of something. You might have ever heard about "Yin and Yang" in Chinese philosophy, and actually that is the same "Yang" as I have in my name. You can see how my name is written in Chinese (both simplified and traditional) from the above slide show.
I was born on November 02, 1989. It is a year of snake in Chinese Zodiac, and in the Western Zodiac, that date belongs to the Scorpius constellation, which is the southernmost one in the zodiac. I have put in the above slide a picture of this constellation with the splendid Milky Way.
My hometown is Tai'an, a famous tourist city in eastern China. Tai'an is well known for Mountain Taishan, a mountain with long history and rich cultural heritage. Mountain Taishan is usually considered to be the foremost one among the "Five Great Mountains" in China. From the second picture in the slides, you can find out the position of Tai'an and a picture of Mountain Taishan.
I attended elementary school, middle school and high school in Tai'an from 1995 to 2007. Then at the age of 18, I went to Beijing and stepped into Peking University, one of the two top universities in China. I chose chemistry as my major because I thought chemistry was like magic and I was very interested in it.
Gradually, I found some chemistry too empirical and often can only be predicted qualitatively and described pictorially, while physics, on the other hand, seemed to be clear and neat. Therefore, I thought physics was more beautiful and elegant, and wanted to learn physics. Then starting from my third year in college, I began to pursue a second major in physics. It was tough and barely had any people done that in my college, but I thought it was worthwhile and finally I made it within two years.
Later, my strong interest in the elegance of theory and a background in both chemistry and physics led me to theoretical chemistry research groups. I did my undergraduate research in Professor Hong Jiang's group at Peking University. And now I am a PhD student in Professor Weitao Yang's group at Duke University. I expect to graduate in the spring semester in 2016.
As I learned more and more in the field, I found that actually research in theoretical chemistry is in fact not so elegant as I had expected. It once distressed me a lot. Now I feel better after long time thought. After all, using a famous Chinese saying, doing research is like "to see flowers through a mist and to see the moon reflected by the water". It is the muddy road towards elegance, and ironically, once elegance is reached, research ends.
Now I am more and more interested in applying theoretical tools to real chemical or biological systems. To help with people's understanding of the world using my theoretical knowledge makes me feel the joy of accomplishment. Although it is still impossible for theory to accurately simulate or predict experiments, I wish one day it can, and this is my final dream, or the elegance I have always been pursuing in this field.
Nowadays computer skills are very important and many students finally get into the computer science industry. Although I still do not have such a plan, I always like to learn something in this area so that I can make some interesting things. Below is a list of computer skills that I have.
C, Java, bash shell script, Python
Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator