Sau Lan Wu


Sau's leadership and research have led to the discovery of several quantum particles. Through her work at CERN, she was even a part of the international effort to discover the Higgs boson particle. 

Journey to America

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Sau arrived by boat to attend Vassar College, full ride. With only $40 and knowing barely any English, Sau then took two trains to get from San Francisco to New York. Once at Vassar, she became fascinated by particle physics and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She then proceeded to earn her Ph.D. at Harvard, in the first Graduate class with women.

Particle Discoveries

At while studying at Harvard, she conducted research at MIT where she was a part of the team to discover the J/psi particle. This research received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976. After that, Sau also lead a team at DESY to discover the gluon. A gluon holds together quarks in composite particles like protons and neutrons. From this discovery, she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Then, Sau lead yet another team in the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at as the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There her team analyzed simulations of particle collisions in the Large Hadron Collider to contribute to the international effort.



Teacher and Mentor

With a lifetime of achievements, Sau still works at CERN in Geneva. There she leads a team of around 20 scientists to continue research on the Higgs boson on the ATLAS project. Even with being a part of multiple discoveries, Sau is most proud of the dozens of graduate students that she has mentored, as they have gone on to receive Ph.D.s and teach at prestigious schools. Sau has international impact and her work has enhanced the field of particle physics. 

As a woman in a male-dominated field, Sau has worked hard to prove her self to her male colleagues. She has been a part of many discoveries and has made sure to pass her knowledge to the next generation through mentoring many grad students.


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