Get to Know...

In the spirit of getting to better know our fellow faculty and grad students, each month we will feature a new "Get to Know.." profile for one professor and one grad student. Check back here the first of every month to see who we pick and find out more about what interesting research they do and what some of their hobbies and interests are! So join us now as we get to know...

Grad Student - Yunyao Li

Yunyao Li in the Rocky Mountains

Yunyao Li in the Rocky Mountains


What is the broad topic of your research so far, and what is your background in?

Our group focus on studying thunderstorms, their dynamics and microphysics, their production of lightning, and how they transport trace gases in the atmosphere. Now I am trying to simulate a storm which happened in North Alabama during the DC3 (Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry) campaign, and study its convective transport.

Why did you choose this career path? When did you first realize this career was meant for you?

I has long been curious about thunderstorms. I was born during the East Asian rainy season. During that time, the ‘Meiyu’ period, the sky is always covered by thick convective clouds. Therefore, my mom named me ‘Yun’, which means clouds. Thunderstorms cause huge precipitation during that time. When you driving a car, it feels like that you are driving a boat. When I was young, I was curious what bring so much rain, and why the rainy season always appeared at the same time of the year. But after I went to college, I found that atmospheric science is much more than these. The weather system is more interesting and complex than I thought. So after graduation, I applied for Ph.D. programs. Fortunately, my family support my decision. (In China, majority family approve their daughter to pursue Ph.D. A master degree is enough)

If you could hit the “redo” button, what career would you choose instead?

An Architect. Before I went to college, atmospheric science was my second choice. My first choice was Architecture. I began to learn painting at age of six, and hoped to become an architect. However, I didn’t do very well in my College Entrance Examination. I cannot go to School of Architecture. But now I feel meteorologist may be a better career. It is healthier. After all, architects have to ‘make friends’ with formaldehyde, dust and particulate matter.

What are you most passionate about, (besides your research and career at the University of Maryland, of course?)

The Triune God and the Bible. I am a Christian.

Personal Life

Where did you grow up? Tell us about your family and hometown.

I was born and grown up in Nanjing, China. Nanjing has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, and has been the capital of China on several occasions. ‘Nanjing’ in Chinese means ‘Southern capital’. The weather in Nanjing is very special. In the winter, it is freezing cold. In the spring, you can experience all four seasons. In the beginning of the summer, monsoon comes. The huge precipitation give you a fantastic chance to see ‘ocean’ without going to beaches. After that, the Pacific subtropical high will bring the toughest days of the year. It is hot and moist, but seldom rain. Every day is like living in a steamer. Fall is short but beautiful. The red leaves of maples and yellow leaves of ginkgoes make Nanjing colorful. And this summer, Nanjing will host the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics.

I am the only child of my family (In China we have One Child Policy). My grandparents are both professors in university. It is them who encourage me to pursue a Ph.D. degree after my graduation of Bachelor’s degree. My father works for the government. My mother runs a small business to sell gifts.

Do you enjoy watching sports? If so, what is your favorite team to watch?

Sometimes. No favorite team

What kind of hobbies do you have? What got you into these activities?

Painting. I love painting. And constellation experts claim that cancerians are good at painting. During my leisure time, I also love to watch some TV dramas, especially South Korean TV soaps.

What music are you listening to right now, who’s your favorite band?

Favorite band: Sodagreen

What’s the most exciting place you’ve ever traveled to, or most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

Japan. When I was 16-year-old, I was so lucky to get a chance to travel to Japan for free. \(^o^)/
I went to Okinawa (Japanese Florida), Tokyo and Mount Fuji. This is my first time to go abroad. It broaden my horizons, and arouse my desire to travel to more countries. Without that trip, I will not study here in the US.

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