Ping Hua is a Research Scientist and Senior Experimental Officer at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). She conducts independent research into integrated optical sensors and sensor systems that apply to biology, chemistry and environmental monitoring systems.
Ping is a Research Scientist and Senior Experimental Officer at the Optoelectronics Research Centre
Ping also provides technical support for the department including supervision, consultation and the training of research staff and PhD students on mask design and integrated optical waveguide fabrication.
‘People are always knocking on my door, so I stop to help them,’ she says. ‘It can be very demanding, especially when there are new staff or PhD students, and I don’t get to leave the lab or office until 10 or 11pm.’
Ping attained her degree in Physics in China and was a physics teacher for several years in a technical college before joining the University of Southampton in 1990. Her job and responsibilities have grown since then to involve more research projects. She has expertise in developing, designing and fabricating integrated optical sensors using cutting-edge technology in optoelectronics.
She has also played a key role in a number of international and European research projects. One of her recently completed research projects was for the European Union Automated Water Analyser Computer Supported System for river water pollution. ‘This second-to-none sensing system can detect up to 32 pollutants simultaneously – more than 100 times better than that required by EU legislation for organic pollutants,’ says Ping. As part of her project work she travelled abroad, attending meetings and conducting joint experiments with other partners as well as giving presentations at international conferences.
Outside of her research career, Ping has been the chair of the Chinese Association of Southampton for a number of years. The association benefits the local Chinese community and includes services for the elderly and the young, helping them to overcome language barriers and promoting the Chinese culture in the Southampton area.
‘As a community volunteer, I would like to work towards creating a harmonic, multi-cultural society and raising awareness and understanding of the Chinese arts and culture amongst all communities,’ she says.
Ping is also the founder and director of the Southampton Phoenix Ensemble, a unique Chinese orchestra of its type in the UK. Featuring volunteer musicians, most of whom are teenagers, the orchestra plays both western and Chinese music on Chinese musical instruments.
‘We are very busy, especially at Chinese New Year, and travel around the country,’ she says. Ping trained as a singer when young and sings with the Peking Opera in London.
‘There was a famous saying in China when I was young: “If you excel in science, then the world is at your feet”. So I chose science over music, but music is an important part of my life.'