His parents wanted a better life for Max Bi: Their gamble paid off.

Max Bi was 14 years old when his parents moved from Beijing to New York to create more opportunities for their only child.

“It was for me to get a better education,” says Bi, an assistant professor of physics at Northeastern. “The competition is fierce in China, and I wasn’t a top student in middle school. I probably would not have done well on the college entrance exam.”

From those uncertain beginnings, Bi’s academic prospects have taken a quantum leap. But he isn’t the type to show off. Bi explains the work he does with Northeastern’s theoretical soft matter and biophysics group in the kind of everyday English that he learned as a teenaged immigrant two decades ago.

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