Wen Zhang's research is all about sound - in particular, the areas of spatial audio and array signal processing.
"Spatial audio means thinking about sound in three dimensions. We design and manipulate speakers so we can change where the listener thinks the sound is coming from," explains Wen.
"Array signal processing is about designing algorithms to improve sonar systems and wireless communications, so that they are better at detecting and locating the source of a signal, or can provide more information about the signal."
Wen's fascination with sound and engineering began at a very early age. When she was six years old she visited a central control room where a telephone operator used a switchboard to put calls through to the right people. "It seemed like magic," says Wen. "I wanted to know how it worked. I remember asking the operator lots of questions."
At school Wen was good at mathematics and problem-solving. "Then when I started university in 1999 the mobile phone boom was getting started. A new telecommunication engineering degree had just become available, so it seemed perfect."
She completed the telecommunication undergraduate degree from Xidian University in China in 2003.
Wen then came to ANU and completed her master of engineering degree in 2005, and her PhD in 2010. The high quality of one of the papers from her studies earned her a grant from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society to attend the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing in Las Vegas.
She was chosen to be a CSIRO OCE Postdoctoral Fellow and worked at CSIRO Process Science and Engineering in Sydney from 2010 to 2012 before joining ANU.
Wen is currently working on an Australian Research Council project investigating 'Robust signal processing theory for synthesis and analysis of spatial wavefields', which can contribute to both spatial audio and array signal processing applications.
She is also working on a subproject to understand more about how humans hear. "We only have two ears, but humans are still surprisingly good at detecting where sounds are coming from. Understanding how we figure this out will be useful for applications such as tracking devices on robots."
Wen really likes academic life. "I just want to keep expanding my knowledge. My career will be in universities where I can keep learning and developing new technologies."
Outside university, Wen's interests are music - "That's why I ended up in spatial audio!" - and dancing.