Lan Yang is the Edwin H. & Florence G. Skinner Professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering. AAAS is honoring her for groundbreaking contributions to the fields of photonics, particularly her pioneering experimental studies on non-Heritian photonics, optical sensing and light-matter interactions in optical resonators.

Many of the high-tech devices we use in our day-to-day lives are electronic devices — they rely on the movement of electrons to transmit information. Photonic devices, however, use photons, or light, instead. Yang’s research focuses on silicon-chip-based, ultra-high-quality micro-resonators and their applications for sensing, lasing, nonlinear optics, environmental monitoring, biomedical research and communication.

In her research, she tailors chemical compositions and nanostructures to achieve advanced micro/nano photonic devices with desired properties, such as an all-optical analog of an electronic diode that allows current flow in one direction.

In 2018, her lab was the first to successfully record environmental data using a wireless photonic sensor resonator with a whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) architecture. In 2020, she was listed as a highly-cited researcher by Clarivate Web of Science. Her research could have impacts in the creation of biomedical devices, electronics and biohazard detection devices, among others.

Yang is a fellow of APS, IEEE and is editor-in-chief of Photonics Research, a journal published by The Optical Society, of which she is also a fellow. She joined Washington University in 2007. In 2010, she earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and, in 2011, she was honored by President Barack Obama with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

“The mission statement of AAAS truly echoes with me,” Yang said. “‘Advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.’

“This is also my lifelong motto that gives me the passion and motivation to work hard on science and technology, the career I chose many years ago, hoping one day what I have done could benefit and help the world.”

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