YaYa Brown

A portrait photograph of YaYa Brown.
The most exciting part of my research is seeing simulations and concepts come to fruition in hardware.

What does your research focus on?

My research mainly focuses on wireless communications, particularly the physical layer. This layer deals with encoding information on radio waves. I've been working on many projects related to 5G in regard to how this fifth-generation wireless technology could be utilized for various defense applications and how to mitigate potential vulnerabilities. The most exciting part of my research is seeing simulations and concepts come to fruition in hardware.

What made you decide to pursue a career at the Laboratory?

When I was a junior in college, I interned at the Lab for the summer. During that time, I met with one of the group leaders, who explained to me that the Lab exists somewhere between academia and industry. The Lab does research and prototypes and builds systems but doesn't have the obligations that come with commercially making a product. I was also fortunate to have the Lab sponsor me during my master's program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, so starting my career here seemed like the perfect fit. It’s been great working at the Lab, and my favorite part is the focus on continuing to learn and take classes to expand my knowledge.

When did you become interested in STEM and electrical engineering in particular?

My dad was an electrical engineer in the defense industry. From an early age, I swore off becoming an engineer — never mind an electrical engineer — because I didn't want to do exactly what he did. I wanted to do my own thing. However, when I was a senior in high school, I took AP Physics and realized how physics explains a lot of the world around us. In college, my academic advisor, who would later become my thesis advisor, encouraged me to take a wireless communications class. That class made me decide to pursue wireless communication as a focus. Until then, I had never given much thought about how technology like my cell phone worked. Discovering that all of it was explained via math and physics drew me in.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to do crafts such as knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitching in my free time. Although my work involves a lot of creative problem solving, it's different than these more artistically creative activities.