Women in Optics: How Lisa Yang Went from Curious Science Student to Optical Design Expert


We asked Lisa Yang, Chief Technology Officer at Ross Optical, to share a bit about how she got into the field of optics and the work she does now.


When I was in grade school, I was extremely interested in science. My idol was my mathematics teacher. She seemed to have answers to anything the students asked. Her knowledge and extra patience encouraged all of us to explore the unknown world of science. My mom was another great woman in my life. She supported my interests and provided every opportunity. I spent most of my time reading whatever books I could find. When I was lost in a book and forgot to do my chores, or when I stayed up late trying to solve an interesting problem, my mom was never upset. My dream was to become a scientist someday.

I earned my B.S. in science from Nankai University in China, and then moved to the University of Texas at El Paso to pursue a doctorate in material science and engineering. My thesis focused on new optical materials to be used for fiber communication. Growing use of the internet has required greater and greater data transfer speeds. My research sought to develop new methods to enhanced the communication speed and thermal stability of optical fibers.

After earning my Ph.D. for my research in optical materials, I began postdoctoral research at the University of South Carolina. I was researching thin film coatings, and that led to a job offer from Ross Optical to become a coating engineer.

Working at Ross has widened my interests. Aside from coatings, I now also design optical and opto-mechanical systems. Working with our customers is very rewarding. Projects have included heads-up goggles, periscope lenses, lighting systems, and medical devices. No project is ever the same.

Optics is present in so many aspects of our daily lives, from taking a photo to using the internet, and I’m glad that my job allows me to contribute to the field. Without the encouragement of my mom and my teacher, I might not have had the confidence to pursue my passion in science and optics. All young people, especially young women, pursuing STEM careers should seek out role models and people who support their interests.

Learn more about Lisa in our previous post, or meet the whole leadership team.