Chi Yu Hu, PhD, is a physicist and professor emeritus celebrating 47 years of distinction in her field. Born in Sichuan, China, Dr. Hu was a kind and precocious student who developed a reputation for academic excellence at a young age. She recalls tutoring classmates who would come to her for help with schoolwork and concepts that they struggled with, finding that she enjoyed guiding others through the learning process. Even as a child, Dr. Hu remembers that all she wanted to do in life was help others. She attended National Taiwan University, completing a Bachelor of Science in 1955, and left China shortly after, immigrating to the United States in 1957 at just 20 years of age.
When she arrived in the United States, Dr. Hu spoke very little English, but managed to master the language at a high enough level to pursue doctoral coursework in physics in only a few years. She continued her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was often the only woman in her classes. She graduated from MIT in 1962 with a Doctor of Philosophy in physics, and spent the next year as a research associate at St. John’s University in New York. Dr. Hu began her career with California State University in 1963 as an assistant professor of physics, rising to become an associate professor from 1968 until 1972. She was made a full professor in 1972, and continued to teach at California State University until 2006, when she was granted professor emeritus status.
Dr. Hu’s career was marked by ongoing research supporting developments in clean air and clean energy sources. Among her accomplishments are providing accurate calculations for nuclear fusion and being the first physicist to provide several sets of benchmark theoretical calculations. She has been invited to address numerous academic conferences and symposia throughout her career, and is extensively published, with credits on more than 80 scientific papers and articles appearing in dozens of scientific and professional journals. Dr. Hu is a four-time grantee of the National Science Foundation and was a fellow of the institution in 1965 and again in 1976. From 1988 to 1990, she as a National Science Foundation visiting professor at the University of California Los Angeles.
In addition to the support from the National Science Foundation, the significance of her work was recognized with grants from the California State University Long Beach Foundation in 1965, 1970, and 1972, and with a highly-competitive two-year grant award from the United States Department of Energy in 1986. In honor of her contributions to physics, Dr. Hu has been presented with the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award, named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional. She has also been profiled in dozens of editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the West, and Who’s Who in the World.
Reflecting on her career, Dr. Hu emphasizes that teaching is a form of service to others and that as such, it has to come from the heart. She explains her draw to her career as a combination of interest, duty, and responsibility, and continued to find satisfaction in helping her students understand complex topics throughout her years as a professor. She remains affiliated with the American Physical Society, and looks forward to the next five years as the beginning of a new era of research into clean energy technologies. Dr. Hu is a mother of four, a grandmother of two, and enjoys classical music.