In this installment of Senior Member Insights, we talk with Rengmao Wu. Rengmao is a professor of optical engineering at Zhejiang University, China. Prior to joining Zhejiang University, he performed postdoctoral research at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, through the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) Fellowship and at the College of Optical Science, University of Arizona, USA. His research interests include freeform optics and optical system design.
What first interested you in pursuing science?
I like optics and I find it really can be fun.
Have you encountered a period where you have been discouraged in your pursuit of science? If so, how did you persevere?
Yes, I have encountered such a period when I was working on the design of freeform illumination optics for extended light sources. I kept telling myself that the problem is solvable, and I knew the only thing that I need to do is to think about the problem carefully and patiently.
What professional resources do you rely on to stay active and engaged with your field?
I usually attend one or two international conferences (e.g., OSA/SPIE conferences) every year.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you were given as a student/early in your career?
The single most important piece of advice that I wish I was given when I was still a student is “to do my Ph.D. abroad.”
What have you learned by being a mentor to others, and what have you learned from mentors who helped shepherd your career?
Being patient with my students and communicating with them are two important things that I have learned after becoming a graduate student tutor at Zhejiang University. I have learned a lot of research skills and interpersonal skills from my mentors.
What are habits each day that help you to be successful?
I usually create a daily plan in order to work more efficiently.
What advice do you have for young scientists who are about to interview for their first job?
I would suggest increasing their problem-solving skills and techniques before they interview for their first job.
At this point in your career, what are you most looking forward to next?
I am most looking forward to running my own lab.
If you weren’t in the sciences, what would be your dream career?
If I was not in the sciences, I would like to become a photographer.