Westlake Voices: Min Yang - "The Freedom I Was Looking For"

09, 2021

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
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Min Yang

University of California, Berkeley Graduate

School of Life Sciences, Westlake University

Min Yang has a quiet personality and a gentle speech, very much unlike the stereotypes most have of Beijingers. Min says that her love for the laboratory dates back to her undergraduate degree in nutritional sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. In the laboratory, everyone does their own experiments, analyzes the results, and writes articles. She found this simple process delightful. "I remember that the topic of inquiry was about charged small molecules and protein polymerization," she says, "I did some experiments on my own, analyzed the results, and considered how to adjust the next step."

In early 2020, the pandemic started to spread and the situation in the United States gradually deteriorated. Increasing numbers of international students chose to return to China. Min Yang also decided to catch the "last bus" back home.

Min could continue her studies through online classes, but she could no longer spend time in the laboratory. It was while trying to find a solution to this problem online that Min stumbled upon news about Westlake University. She learned that Westlake University had set up summer internship programs for sophomores and juniors. With the School of Life Sciences, Min Yang discovered the Human Nutrition and Epidemiology Laboratory, under PI Jusheng Zheng. Unfortunately, it was late in the application period and the internship positions in Zheng's laboratory had been filled.

Yang didn't want to give up the opportunity, however, so she sent Zheng her resume. She recalls what happened next, "After reading my resume, Mr. Zheng asked me if I would like to come here as a visiting student." Min Yang was ecstatic.

On August 5, 2020, Min Yang arrived at Westlake University for the first time. For the next 12 months, she would do experiments in a Westlake University laboratory by day and take her online Berkeley classes by night.

Yang loved the Westlake University laboratory environment, "I think Westlake University is very similar to Berkeley in academic and laboratory research."  Yang finished her final year of courses with Berkeley with a GPA of 3.95, and soon after, applied for Ph.D. programs. On July 13, 2021, she received her admission letter from Westlake University. In the end, Min chose to "continue writing" her story with Westlake University.

As a new student with the School of Life Sciences, Min Yang will join other students to participate in our "2+1" laboratory rotation. Students will participate in at least two rounds of laboratory rotations, then a two-way selection is made with the supervisor to determine a student's final laboratory. If students remain undecided after two rounds, a third round can be carried out.

For Min Yang, a laboratory is not some lifeless or monotonous place, but rather a "peach blossom" and place of "freedom", to use her language. "I think that life in the laboratory is relatively free: you have control over your own time, and control over your own progress forward…"