Civil and environmental engineering PhD candidate and author from Beijing, China

Ye Sun is fascinated by two fields that many consider to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, writing and engineering. She’s the author of a book published in Chinese about her Students on Ice experience in the Arctic, as well as a PhD candidate in civil and environmental engineering, as she’s interested in finding sustainable solutions to traffic congestion.

The Expedition Experience

Ye’s expedition experience opened her eyes to global climate change as she learned from scientists onboard the Arctic 2007 expedition vessel, as it cruised between Churchill, Manitoba and Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Realizing Goals & Ambitions

After returning home, Ye published her thoughts and journal entries in a book written in Chinese titled Journals of an Arctic Expedition (translated), which sold over 20,000 copies.

After I returned, I went through the journals I wrote down, and really cherished the unique experience to be close to nature. I wanted to share these experiences with more people, and let the public know the situation of the Arctic area.”

“When I was hiking in Auyuittuq National Park to the Arctic Circle, I experienced the spectacular nature and felt that humans are infinitely small within the mountains and forests, which also taught me to face the challenges in life with calm, courage, and broad visions”

Making a Difference

Ye hopes her writing will inspire students in her home country “to learn more about the world by their own eyes and feet.” And she’s doing just that, as she’s received correspondence from other Chinese students who, after reading about Ye’s experience, have gone on to experience the Polar Regions and write about the importance of protecting the poles and the planet. 

“I know it is not easy to make a difference in the world, but at least we can influence people around us, and the younger generations.”


Looking Ahead

Ye is currently a PhD student in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the world’s top schools for engineering.

"My plan is to find a faculty position in a US university. My research interest is in sustainable and resilience infrastructure systems, which aims at finding more advanced technical solutions to support sustainable development of civil and environmental systems. I hope I can educate more students to shape a better future for the earth in a smarter way."