The following profile was published by the Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity for the Women @ Energy series, which showcases women who are helping change the world, ensuring America’s security and prosperity through transformative science and technology solutions. Meet the other scientists profiled in the Women @ Energy series.
Women @ Energy: Wei Xu
By Joe Gettler | November 12, 2014
Wei Xu received the BS and MS degree in Computer Science from Zhejiang University, China in 2004 and the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stony Brook University, USA in 2012. She joined Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) in 2013 and is currently an Advanced Applications Engineer in the Computational Science Center collaborating with Hard X-ray Nanoprobe (HXN) and FXI (Full Field X-ray Imaging) beamline groups of National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II). Her research interests include medical imaging, tomography, visualization, visual analytics, high performance computing with GPGPUs and multi-core clusters, imaging processing, machine learning and workflow systems. She has published papers in leading technical journals and conferences and served as committee member and reviewers for top medical imaging and visualization journals and conferences.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
The beauty and the power of science and technology inspired me. STEM could change the world and improve life quality dramatically. For instance, smart phones are ubiquitous now. It does not just ease our daily life, indeed it changes the habit of generations of human beings. I feel lucky to live in the decades that women are welcome to STEM and join the works to put what they learn and imagine into reality equally. 2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
The fact that computer science is not yet fully discovered by people working at the Energy Department. There is a mission on my shoulders to make more scientists and researchers be aware of the “science” part instead of engineer part of this domain (computer science). We are not just able to design and maintain a system to collect, transfer, process and store data, or simply implement or speed up the ideas or algorithms created by scientists. Far beyond these, we have theorems to optimize the current methods, to predict future patterns based on existing experiments, to enhance the capability of uncovering the hidden features and to make impossible possible for scientists in their research process. It is not easy for people to realize the impact of computer science completely. But I believe more and more scientific researchers are on the way to appreciate it.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I think US is already among the top countries encouraging women, girls and other underrepresented groups participate in STEM. To make it even better, the media exposure of more women role models from STEM might be very helpful. Besides, it is inevitable that women are expected to play more roles than men in the society, as a good wife, a good mom and a good daughter. To be a successful scientist may not be appreciated more than being a housewife supporting a same successful man. Therefore, if women in STEM are understood and supported more when they try to balance the burden of different roles while not being treated discriminately, I believe more women would like to join the field of STEM that they could be the same remarkable as men.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
To be a qualified computer scientist, programming skill is the number one thing to keep in good shape at least in early years of career track. Then the passion to study new domains is always important. Computer science is an application science. The more domains to collaborate with, the more spectacular ability it could show.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
Traveling, yoga, and concerts.
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.