Judy Yang is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. She received her Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Zhejiang University in China.
She is currently studying the impact of aquatic vegetation on sediment transport. Aquatic vegetation provides important ecosystem services, such as stabilizing banks, purifying water and protecting coastal areas from storm surge and waves. However, a large amount of the vegetation has been lost in recent decades, including over half of the wetlands and thousands of acres of seagrass in the U.S.. Many coastal regions would like to restore coastal vegetation, as a line of protection against storm surge and a buffer for nutrient run-off (e.g. coastal Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay). These landscapes grow through the interplay of flow, vegetation and sediment accretion. The vegetation-sediment-interaction model she is developing will help ecologists compare the predicted success of different vegetation-restoration strategies and identify designs that are naturally sustainable.
Apart from studying the environment, Judy is also enthusiastic about communicating environmental science to the public. Last year, she started a student club that creates online videos to provide reliable information about environmental issues that impact society. So far, the club (MIT TREES) has produced several videos in a wide range of areas, including water pollution and air quality. Videos from the club are posted in http://trees.mit.edu/.