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"A Quantum Gas of Polar Molecules."Background:
Kang-Kuen Ni grew up in Taiwan where she graduated from Hsinchu Experimental High School in 2000. She then moved across the ocean to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in UC LEADS (Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees) and joined research projects ranging from astrophysics and gravitational physics to condensed matter physics. In 2003, she began doctoral studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she joined the research group of Prof. Carl Wieman at JILA and where she was awarded a NSF graduate fellowship. Kang-Kuen's doctoral dissertation, completed under the supervision of Dr. Deborah Jin and Dr. Jun Ye, describes the first experimental realization of an ultracold, near quantum degenerate gas of polar molecules. This work opens new research directions in ultralow-energy chemical reactions, quantum phase transitions, and quantum information science. After completion of her PhD in 2009, Kang-Kuen joined Prof. Jeff Kimble's group at Caltech as a Center of Physics Information postdoctoral fellow.