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Womens History Month - Xia Cai

March 17, 2023

As we continue our Women’s History Month celebration, we would like to highlight Senior Research Scientist, Xia Cai.

Dr. Xia Cai obtained her Ph.D. degree in Atmospheric and Space Science in 2007 from the University of Michigan. After her postdoctoral training, she was a research scientist at Virginia Tech before joining the SSAI family in 2014.  At SSAI, she works with the NASA CALIPSO Lidar Science Working Group, and leads the development of three Level 3 cloud climatology products. Most recently, she is a Co-Investigator of a NASA Internal Research & Development (IRAD) project to demonstrate an innovative concept of next generation atmospheric water observatory with signals from commercial communication satellite constellations.

As a child, Dr. Cai always stared at the blue sky and wondered what was in there.

“In high school I was attracted by space science and was determined to find out all the secrets of the sun and the solar system” Cai said when explaining her inspiration behind her career choice.

Though the women to men ratio in the STEM field still varies, Dr. Cai views the gender gap as a metaphor to show a more positive outlook on what is to come. 

“Being a woman in STEM feels like a giant panda in the animal world; the number is small but is gradually increasing” Cai said.

Dr. Cai’s role as a research scientist is versatile, as some of her projects have allowed her to explore into the tech field.

“My favorite project that I have worked on is the current NASA IRAD project. It involves both hardware and software development and I enjoy working with engineers and scientists to demonstrate this exciting concept from scratch” Cai said. 

She encourages other young women to keep their curiosity and passion no matter how old you are!

“It is totally OK to cry if you feel frustrated or helpless. But at the end of the day, find a solution to move forward, and try to become better and stronger the next day” Cai stated. 

Now that is some advice we should all carry with us in our day-to-day life! 

During her spare time, Dr. Cai enjoys dancing, yoga, crafting, and cooking, and though we don’t get to see all those other talents shine in our office, we surely appreciate the hard work and dedication she provides to the SSAI team every day! 

We invite you to read up on our previous women’s history month highlight, Tina Harte, and be sure to check out our page on Monday for more women’s history fun at SSAI!