Interview with Sheng Yang

I’m from a small town named Honghu, which is located in the central part of China. In Chinese, ‘hu’ means lake, so my hometown is famous because of a beautiful lake and is named after it. I did my masters degree at the Beijing Normal University, and my PhD at the University of Padova, including a year and a half at UC Davis. After that, I did a one year postdoc at the Observatory of Padova, INAF, and then I moved to Stockholm.

Photo of Sheng Yang
Sheng Yang

When I was young I always told people that I wanted to become a scientist. And now I have tried to keep my promise and, in the process, I really found it to be lots of fun. Being a scientist, you will always have lots of time in thinking, traveling, and learning something new, actually, that’s what I like the most. I dislike moving a lot before finding a permanent position. I mean, you should try to keep your luggage as minimal as you can, otherwise, it is a nightmare.

What is your field of research and/or what project are you involved in at the OKC?
As an astronomer in context of observing, I’m mainly working on the electromagnetic counterpart search for gravitational wave sources. To be somewhat more specific, my main interests lie in developing pipelines for hunting kilonovae associated with gravitational wave signals from a series of astronomical images in low latency. During my PhD, I was part of GRAWITA and DLT40 collaborations, which coordinate either a large field of view telescope to tile the gravitational wave localization or a small field of view telescope to trace the local galaxies within the error box. At the OKC, I will be involved in the ZTF, GROWTH and ENGRAVE projects.

What are your research plans for your time in Sweden?
I plan for statistical research on ZTF transients to learn their behavior in parameter space, for the purpose of real time search in the multi-messenger era. Meanwhile, I’m also interested in learning interesting high energy physics and cosmology with ZTF photometric and spectroscopic data.

Which of your skills are you most proud of?
I think I’m a very good programmer, especially in Python.

What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
Considering science, I want to learn data reduction for more facilities in different wavelengths and messenger channels. For a more general view, I’m thinking to learn how to cook some Swedish cuisine.

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
I’m excited that the gravitational wave interferometers are growing in number and sensitivity, from both terrestrial and space side. I’m looking forward to when they can detect gravitational wave signals from a galactic core collapse supernova, or merging white dwarfs, with a very good localization so that we can identify the counterpart in real time.

What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
I like coding more than reading and writing papers.

What’s your favorite food? Why?
My favorite foods are egg, potato, tomato, and cucumber. I liked them since my childhood and till now. I’ve no idea why.

Why did you choose the OKC?
For an observer, the most important thing is to have a good telescope and working here in OKC, I will have access to ZTF, which is currently the most powerful telescope network for surveying the northern sky. Apart from the research, I’ve been told that Stockholm is a very beautiful city, everything is very well organized, and very English friendly. 

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
I prefer to do some sports in a gym, or play basketball, football outside, or just stay at home watching a film if there are any good ones.

What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
I hope there will be another Einstein who can accomplish the grand unification theory.

Sheng is a postdoc in the Stockholm University Astronomy Department who joined the OKC in the Fall of 2019.
Thanks Sheng!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *