Johns Hopkins University
Advisor: Xiaobing Wang
Anti-adherent compounds for contact lenses
70 million people around the world wear contact lenses. Up to
20% of those people could end up contracting a lens-inducted
Yang’s strategy is to prevent infection-causing bacteria from
adhering to contact lenses by coating the lenses with safe
Yang was just in the 8th grade, she interned in a
lab. There, she
worked on a project that looked for compounds that could adhere
to bacteria. She was interested to discover that some compounds
did not adhere. A
few years later, she went to her optometrist for an eye
check-up. She was
warned away from contacts because of the possible risk of
infection. Once she
arrived at Johns Hopkins, she took these pieces of her past, put
them together, and began work on her anti-adherent project using
18, isn’t always sure where her ideas come from.
“Sometimes I feel like they just pop up,” she says.
“Sometimes I’m able to write them down.
Then, I have to sort them out, read literature about
them, and research.” Regardless, when she is working on a problem, she is always
excited when she finds a solution.
As she notes, “It means I have finally done something
that no one has ever done before.”
Ten minutes later, though, Yang finds herself at work on
another problem, facing obstacles again.
Yang was ten years old, she moved from Peking, China to Davis,
California with her mother, Yan-Lei Liu, a laboratory technician
at Davis Medical School. Although
young, she remembers her childhood years in China.
“I always like to solve problems,” she says. “When I was five years old, we didn’t have air
conditioning at home. So,
I would open the refrigerator in the summer and sit in front of
it to read my books. My
grandmother finally hid and watched me, because she wanted to
know why the electric bill was so high.”
In the sixth grade, in the U.S., she remembers becoming
interested in microbiology after a school science project that
caused her to examine bacteria levels before and after hand
washing in order to find the reason why her mother always asked
her to wash her hands before eating.
studying biomaterial and nanomaterial engineering, Yang is a
sophomore who hopes to attend dental school, and then eventually
study for her Ph.D.