Sen Yang became fascinated by the complexity, robustness, and surrounding mystery of the biological system across the universe during high school. This fascination carried forward with her as she went on to pursue her bachelor's degree in Biological Science. During her studies, she became increasingly curious of the nervous system and the mechanisms by which it elicits behavior, cognition, and emotion. She has continued her education as a Ph.D. student, working in Dr. Hui-Chen Lu's lab, focusing her research on axonal maintenance machinery and trying to decipher its underlying mechanism. "I believe the knowledge gained from my study will provide the insight of neurodegeneration from another angle, and open to door toward novel therapeutic opportunities," Yang says. Described as an individual with a highly logical thought process, Sen is also trying to balance logic and serendipity to make her a better scientist. "Logic is a useful strategy when you are intepreting the pieces of findings to make a coherent conclusion; however, the potential for exciting serendipity may not follow logic. I should have an open-minded attitude when that time comes."
Sen Yang - Ph.D. Student & Gill Fellowship recipient, Lu Lab
Sen proactively reads the literature and forms her own testable hypoteses for her research projects. Sen has made many unexpected findings and leads the lab's project in the field of neuronal energy homeostasis, a territory which was completely new for our laboratory. Sen is clearly an intelligent and independent thinker with a fearless attitude to overcome any obstacle that may confront her.Dr. Hui-Chen Lu, Gill Chair and Director
Ms. Yang says that she became interested in working with Dr. Lu and her lab in the Gill Center because of the intensive and collaborative Ph.D. training it offered, allowing her to grow as a scientist and exposing her to an excellent neuroscience community.
While Ms. Yang has not decided what her plans are after obtaining her Ph.D., she suspects she will continue to enthusiastically pursue research in neuroscience prior to entering her forties. A concern, or maybe a hope, that Ms. Yang has is the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence which could replace the role of many scientist within the next century. "I'm hopeful AI will address questions that cannot be fully understood by humans due to our cognitive limitations," she says, and she's already working on developing her back-up plan if that happens. She would love to try a completely different trajectory, which might include studying Buddhist philosophy or perhaps joining the Doctors without Borders/MSF - with her main goal being to live her life without any regrets.
In her spare time, Sen enjoys reading novels, anime and manga. Her favorite authors include Kinoko Nasu and Nisio Isin. "I appreciate the philosophical kernel underlying the conflict between different characters along the story written by them, which always elicits the profound reflection during different ages of my growth."