Yao-Yuan Mao

NASA Einstein Fellow @ Rutgers
Yao-Yuan Mao | NASA Einstein Fellow @ Rutgers | yymao.github.io
A picture of Yao-Yuan Mao

About Yao‑Yuan Mao

Black lives matter. Act to fight against anti-Black racism.

I am an astrophysicist and currently a NASA Einstein Fellow at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, New Jersey. In July 2022, I will join the University of Utah as an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy. See my Curriculum Vitae (CV) PDF icon.

My research answers key questions about the nature of dark matter, galaxy formation physics, and the uniqueness of our own Milky Way by studying the connection between visible galaxies and their invisible nests, the dark matter halos. Check out my publication list and the recent SAGA Survey Stage II results!

I participate in many science collaborations: I have been co-piloting the SAGA Survey, an ongoing spectroscopic galaxy survey aiming to characterize Satellites Around Galactic Analogs. In the Rubin Observatory LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC), I am currently one of the co-conveners of the Dark Matter Working Group, and previously I also served in the Collaboration Council and co-led the Data Access Team. I was credited the Builder Status by the DESC in 2019.

I received my Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University in 2016, working with my thesis advisor, Risa Wechsler. From 2016 to 2019, I was a Samuel P. Langley PITT PACC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.

I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. I received my B.S. in Physics from National Taiwan University in 2009.

I care about inclusion and equity, both in academia and more broadly, and I am committed to improve the inclusiveness and equity in my circles of influence. I am the current maintainer of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Outlist.

I am an avid programmer. Check out some software tools that I've developed, and also my  GitHub profile.

Contact Me

  • Email: Yao‑Yuan Mao <yymao.astro@gmail.com>
  • Rutgers Office: Room 313W, Physics & Astronomy Bld (New Brunswick Busch Campus)
  • Mailing address:
    Yao‑Yuan Mao
    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    136 Frelinghuysen Rd
    Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019, USA

My Name

My name is 茅耀元 in Traditional Chinese; the first character is my last name Mao.

At work I usually go by just Yao. I use they and he as my pronouns.

How to pronounce my name?

  • Each character of my name is monosyllabic.
  • Yao starts as in yard and ends as in cow, with the falling (4th) tone.
  • Yuan starts with the [ɥ] sound (similar to few but with rounded lips), and ends as in tan, with the rising (2nd) tone.
  • Mao has the same vowels as in Yao, but with the rising (2nd) tone.
  • Listen to the pronunciation of my name with Google Translate.

How to style my name in writing?

  • "Yao‑Yuan" as a whole is my first name, with the hyphen indicating two syllables. Both Y's should always be capitalized.
  • If hyphens are not allowed (but why?), it is OK to use a space instead and write my first name as "Yao Yuan". However, "Yuan" should not be considered as a middle name, nor should it be combined with "Yao" into a single word.
  • When abbreviated, my name should appear as "Y.‑Y. Mao".
  • In casual situations where only first names are being used, it is appropriate to use just "Yao" like in verbal communications.
  • These styling rules are my own. They are not general rules and do not apply to everyone who uses romanized Chinese names.