Yangyang Cheng is a physicist based in the US. Apart from her scientific research in the field of experimental particle physics, she is also a columnist who discusses social and culture issues in international publications like the New York Times.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
KrASIA (Kr): Why did you become a physicist, and why did you choose this particular discipline within physics?
Yangyang Cheng (YC): I grew up in a province in China where people tend to believe that upward mobility is only possible through academic excellence. In particular, there was a certain prestige attached to scientific disciplines, as compared to the humanities. More resources and opportunities were allocated to those studying the sciences. For someone without familial resources or financial backing, I knew from a pretty young age that I’d go into the science field.
Of the science subjects available, I didn’t like biology for all the memorization required, and mathematics was too abstract, so I liked physics the most.
Currently, I specialize in collider physics which is a subset of experimental particle physics. My interest in this particular discipline was sparked in college.
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