Women of Bio21 - Qiong Yang (Yang)

Tell us about your research:

Most recently I completed a cross-population, genome-wide association study to reveal the evolution of insecticide resistance in red-legged earth mite, a major agricultural pest. My current and future work is focused on arboviral biocontrol via Wolbachia endosymbionts. I use mitochondrial variation as a monitoring tool to understand the population dynamics of dengue fever mosquitos (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti).

What did you want to be growing up?

As a child I wanted to be a doctor, because my dad suffered from leukemia. In high school I developed a passion for biology and went on to study plant protection in my undergrad at Nanjing Agricultural University, where I really enjoyed my experience as a ‘plant doctor’. I followed my passion and pursued a PhD in agricultural entomology and pest control Zhejiang University.

A key challenge you’ve faced?

Being a mother of two and supporting my husband to start up his business whilst building my research career has been a significant challenge.

I often felt frustrated juggling the demands of my family and work. Then I realised I had to learn organisational skills and use my time and attention very carefully. I believe having children forced me to become a more balanced person and a better professional scientist.

My most recent challenge has been establishing a new life in Australia. Surviving culture shock and dealing with a language barrier has been difficult. Fortunately, I received a great deal of support from my supervisor, colleagues and friends. This support made the adaptation process enjoyable and has allowed me to grow, be productive and succeed.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Coming from a small city in China, I am the first in my family to graduate from University. I feel very proud and fortunate to have an amazing vocation as a scientist. Making Melbourne home provides my family with greater educational, professional and lifestyle opportunities.

What do you hope for women in STEM?

I hope that more women will pursue careers in STEM and that more support can be provided to them during the transition into motherhood. I believe women who juggle parenting and a career successfully are good at multi-tasking in the work environment as they have had lots of experience in doing so. I hope that women taking ‘career breaks’ to raise children will be more confident in their transition back to work.

Who inspires you most?

My mum inspires me. She became a single mum when I was 9 years old. She worked hard to raise me and was the most loving and supportive person. She loves helping others and keeps optimistic and active about life. She is a continuing source of inspiration for me.

What is your passion/hobby/interest outside of work?

I spend most of my spare time with my two children. We love reading books, watching movies and building Lego. We also love being outdoors going swimming, surfing and exploring the beauty of Melbourne. I also like spending time with friends, practicing yoga and making handicrafts.