#WomenInSTEMWednesday: Sau Lan Wu

Courtesy: Vassar College/John Abbott

I’m getting back in the swing of things and writing these WEEKLY again!

This week’s #WomenInSTEMWednesday is Sau Lan Wu, one of the most important people in her field – particle physics. She has made many groundbreaking discoveries including leading a team that was instrumental in observing the Higgs boson.

Wu was born in Hong Kong during the early 1940s. While growing up, Wu’s mother made sure that Wu and her bother received a solid education. That education led her to be accepted into Vassar College in 1960 with a full scholarship. She graduated summa cum laude and went on to Harvard to receive her masters – being the only woman admitted that year in her field.

Wu continued on at Harvard, receiving her PhD and then going to research matter and how it works (aka particle physics) at many different locations across the WORLD! During her research, she participated in discoveries of not only different particles but also discovering some of the pieces that hold these particles together.

Wu continued to work in physics, trying to answer one question in physics: how the tiny particles that make up an atom have mass. There was already a theory about some subatomic particle (Higgs boson) but it wasn’t until 2012 with the Large Hadron Collider that her team was able to observe these Higgs boson particles.

That wasn’t her only claim to fame – she is credited with at least two more other big discoveries. Proving the Higgs boson theory and confirming the existence of two other fundamental particles hasn’t stopped Wu. She continues to teach and search for more of what the universe is made of.

Although Wu had her own obstacles along the way (uneducated mother, moving to a new country for college, and being the only woman accepted to Harvard’s master program in physics her year), she didn’t let any of that stop her. Wu pursued her dreams and achieved her personal goals and continues to raise the bar.

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