After graduating from Pomona College, Mayra Amezcua came to the University of Oregon to pursue a PhD in Physics. When she arrived, she asked her advisor, Prof. Hailin Wang, about the possibility of doing research in China. “In Diamond Bar, where I grew up, there were many Chinese people,” Amezcua remembers, “and I got interested in the language and culture.”
After three years of Physics graduate study, she successfully applied for funding—through a special National Science Foundation program that supports students doing research in East Asia and the Pacific—to do research at Beijing University in the summer of 2016. At Beijing University, Amezcua worked with Prof. Yunfeng Xiao, an expert in micro-cavity photonics, and his students, a connection that has been developed by her UO advisor, Prof. Wang. Her work focuses on building a theoretical model that couples electron spins in a crystal with photons in a cavity, thus realizing an optical switch that can operate on single bits of information. Optical switches are an important component of quantum networks that can extend the range of communication.
Although it has been a while since Amezcua studied Chinese, she has used this opportunity to further develop her language skills by talking with graduate students in Physics at Beijing University, and through living in China. At the end of her trip, she traveled in China for 10 days.