by Panos Charitos. Published: 05 December 2012

ALICE MATTERS interview Ping Yang, a young PhD student from Central China Normal University (CCNU) who has recently moved to CERN to work on the ITS Upgrade project...

A.M. What is your previous background?

After graduating from high school I decided to study electronic information science and technology in Central China Normal University(CCNU). This was a tough decision as my parents were urging me to study foreign languages and become a teacher which they though more appropriate for a girl. However, they respected my final choice and supported me in my studies. Following my graduation I studied for a master in the same university (CCNU). I already had very high scores and I was eligible to study for a master in electronic circuits and systems. During the second year of my master degree I decided that I wanted to continue with a PhD degree in electronics. I hesitated slightly since a PhD requires a lot of effort and many years of hard studies. Especially for a girl it is not very often to move on with an academic career as there is an age pressure. However, I decided that it was most important to consider my future plans. I asked myself where I would like to be in the next ten years and I decided that I want to do a PhD. Although I was not yet completely sure about my personal future plans I was sure that I am interested in and wanted to have this experience in my life.

Over the last few years more and more students are turning to PhD degrees. More and more people consider highly the academic qualifications and academic research and value the outcomes of scientific effort. Of course having a PhD is often linked with better opportunities in the professional career.



Ping Yang, a young PhD student in electronics from Central China Normal University (CCNU). Ping will stay at CERN for almost one year working on the design of the electronics for the upgraded ITS.


A.M. Since you were always interested in understanding how Nature works why didn’t you opt for a bachelor in Physics?

I didn’t study for a major in physics because during high school I found chemistry more interesting than physics. There were many experiments in chemictry courses but only abstract calculations and models in the physics course. Of course during my studies I started realizing how interesting physics is and the interesting questions to which it can provide an answer. As a person, I always pose questions and try to understand how things work in nature. I am curious to find out how our universe has evolved and how the laws of nature work.

A.M How did you decide to work with ALICE?

I was eligible to be involved in ALICE and more specifically in the Inner Tracking System upgrade project since our school has a long established collaboration with CERN and ALICE. Central China Normal University (CCNU) has joined ALICE in 1993. My university has carried out physics studies in ALICE during 1994 to 2000 year and has carried out research about quark-gluon plasma, hard probe signals and the properties of collective phenomena while is still contributing in the strange baryon flow.

In 2010 I had my first lessons on Integrated Circuits and during these lectures I understood how they are designed and how they can be built.

Since 2011, the CCNU joined the ITS collaboration and established silicon technology laboratory in CCNU, and participated in the ITS silicon pixel technology upgrade research We already designed two track detection chips which are currently tested.

When I think of the technological advancements that were achieved in order to study the QGP and the formation of fundamental particles I feel very proud to be a member of the ALICE collaboration.

A.M. How long will you be staying at CERN?

I will be working at CERN for one year, probably until next September before moving back to China. I am now focusing on studying the IC design and especially issues such as the low noise or the low power consumption technology that has been developed at CERN.



Ping Yang is closely working with Costanza Cavicchioli, Thanushan Kugathasan and Cesar Marin in their lab, designing and testing new technologies that will be used in the detection system of the upgraded ITS.


A.M. How did you feel during your first period at CERN?

My first month at CERN has been an exciting but often stressful experience as this has been the first time that I am flying outside China. CERN was a completely new environment for me and I had to get used to the new life habits. I am lucky since everyone around is very nice to me and I have met a lot of friends. Of course I try to do new things that make me feel better.

A.M. What are your future plans?

I do not think a lot about my future. I just hope that when I finish with my PhD I will be able to apply for a position in a Chinese university. A Chinese proverb says: Plans never catch up with changes. I would like to focus my research on electronics and I believe that what I am learning now can be useful for my future career. I still have two years before getting my PhD degree and I hope that I will be able to get some results. Moreover, during the time that I am here I will try to do my best to contribute to the ALICE ITS upgrade plans.