Another Wavelength: YiYun Wu

Jan. 26, 2023
YiYun Wu Headshot

This week in Another Wavelength, we chat with BS student, YiYun Wu. She is pursuing a degree in optical engineering with minors in electrical engineering, music, and math. YiYun is working with Dr. Justin Hyatt for her senior design project. Additionally, she is doing research in Dr. Linran Fan's lab.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Taiwan, but I grew up in Singapore and Shanghai before moving to Tucson for college.

What brought you to study optics?

It’s funny, I actually arrived here 3 years ago as a humanities major because that was what I was good at in high school—writing, acting, and performing. I guess I saw coming to this country as a chance to completely reinvent myself, and the prospect of being challenged through the optics program appealed to me. The past 3 years have shown me that you really should not let your past self hold you back.

Who is your hero in science?

Probably Marie Curie. One of my favorite quotes from her is “nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.” I try to draw from her tenacity and fearless spirit whenever I am uncertain about my next steps in life.

Describe your research in 20 words or fewer.

Building a shape display device for blind scientists that will increase the accessibility of traditionally visual research fields, like optics or astronomy.

YiYun Lab

Describe your research in 200 words or fewer.

I feel more comfortable talking about my senior design project because I’ve been working on it for longer. The basic idea is that we are building a 20x20 array of independently-actuated pins and overlaying a continuous surface on top of the pins. This array will be capable of displaying data, such as heat maps and laser beam profiles, in 3D. Blind scientists can then use this shape display for feedback when analyzing 3D data and debugging code in MATLAB. Right now my team is mostly working through electrical and mechanical design issues, which are numerous since we will have to power and control 400 motors. As the team’s only optics student, my main role is coming up with use cases for the shape display and figuring out how to incorporate assistive technology into the user interface.


Name three neat facts about you.


  1. I have a younger brother who is also a student here! He is an exceptional coder who is double majoring in computer science and ECE.

  2. I have been playing the violin for 14 years. Since moving to Tucson, I have played with the Arizona Symphony, the UA Philharmonic, and the Tucson Repertory Orchestra.

  3. Just for fun, I wrote a program that solves sudoku puzzles.


YiYun Puzzles