Lai-Sang Lily Young was born in 1952 in Hong Kong. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1973, and her M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1978) degrees from the University of Berkeley. Her Ph.D. thesis was on "Entropy And Symbolic Dynamics Of Certain Smooth Systems." After receiving her degree she taught at Northwestern University, Michigan State University (1980-86), the University of Arizona (1987-90), and the University of California at Los Angeles (1991-99). Since 1999 she has been the Henry & Lucy Moses Professor of Science at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. In addition, Young has held visiting positions at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley (1983-1984), Universitat Bielefeld, Germany (1985-1986, as part of a Sloan Fellowship), the University of Warwick, England, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1989).
Young's work has focused on the dynamics of strange attractors. She won the 1993 Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize for having "played a leading role in the investigation of the statistical (or ergodic) properties of dynamical systems and [having] developed important and difficult techniques which have done much to clarify the subject." In 1997, Young was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to support her research on the mathematical theory of dynamical systems. These fellowships are given for "unusually distinguished achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishments." In 2004 she was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Young was the 2005 Noether Lecturer for the Association for Women in Mathematics. See her profile at the AWM web site.
Young was also chosen to deliver the AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture at the 2007 SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems in recognition of her fundamental contributions in the field of ergodic theory and dynamical systems. The May-June 2007 issue of the AWM Newsletter declares: "Her pioneering research has had a significant impact in the investigation of dynamical complexity, strange attractors and probabilistic laws of chaotic systems. Her interests include theory, applications and deep connections to mathematical physics and probability. She is an inspiration to the entire mathematics community, especially to the women's mathematics community."