Yu-Jung Lu - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Research Center for Applied Sciences
Academia Sinica/National Taiwan University, Taiwan
SPIE Early Career Professional Member
Born in Taiwan
My career choice was inspired by my PhD supervisor, Shangjr Gwo, my Postdoc supervisor, Harry A. Atwater, and my career mentor, Din Ping Tsai. They have been supportive promoting female scientists. I’ve been very lucky to work with such outstanding professors at different stages of my life. In addition, my career choice was also inspired by my own curiosity about science.
I’m a material physicist. My research is within an interdisciplinary field of active plasmonics/optoelectronics with a particular focus on nanophotonic/plasmonic devices to investigate harvesting, generating, and manipulating light at the nanoscale. Another responsibility of my job is inspiring young people to pursue a career in STEM.
The most challenging thing early in my career was showing that I, a young female scientist, have the ability to envision, manage, motivate, and lead a worldclass research group. To overcome this, I enthusiastically dedicated myself to nanophotonics, plasmonics, and metamaterials. Over the past three years, I’ve supervised more than 30 lab members including postdocs, research assistants, and graduate students. In addition, I’ve organized three international conferences on optics and nanophotonics: MRS Fall 2019, Global Nanophotonics 2019, and Meta 2020. I’m currently a member of SPIE, MRS, and OSA. Moreover, I serve on committees for several well-known international conferences and as a reviewer for several distinguished journals.
I now know not to be afraid to learn things outside your field. The most exciting thing about research is all its interesting surprises. To me, it’s very exhilarating to try something nobody has tried, and no one has ever thought before.
For young women who are considering a career in STEM: Follow your heart and find your passion to make your big dreams come true. Gender should never be the issue. Although some people might argue it’s hard to find work-life balance when you have kids. I’m a scientist and I’m also a mother. I would say female scientists are very productive in many ways: we could give birth not only to a baby, but also to research! In my point of view, we have our own special power which makes us unique in STEM.