62 se­lected for pres­ti­gious sci­ence academy

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHENG YINGQI chengy­ingqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fifty-three Chi­nese sci­en­tists and nine for­eign sci­en­tists re­ceived the high­est honor in the Chi­nese sci­ence com­mu­nity when they were elected as new mem­bers of the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences.

The academy re­leased the list of its newly elected mem­bers on Thurs­day.

Shi Yigong, pro­fes­sor and dean of Ts­inghua Univer­sity’s School of Life Sciences, was named as a CAS mem­ber as ex­pected.

“I re­turned to China six years ago and I would like to ex­press thanks to Ts­inghua Univer­sity and to my do­mes­tic peers for be­ing sup­port­ive,” Shi said on Thurs­day.

Prior to his re­turn to China in 2008, he was a tenured pro­fes­sor at Prince­ton Univer­sity. He was elected as one of 21 for­eign as­so­ci­ates to the Na­tional Academy of Sciences in the United States in April.

“There is pres­sure brought about by the CAS mem­ber­ship. Since the mem­ber­ship is the top honor for Chi­nese sci­en­tists, we are now rep­re­sent­ing the high­est aca­demic level of China, so I keep think­ing about whether there is a gap for us to stack up to the high­est lev­els around the world,” he said.

Xie Yi, 46 and a pro­fes­sor of chem­istry at the Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of China, was the youngest mem­ber elected this year.

“I am so lucky to win such a high honor at a young age. Al­though I have not thought much about my gen­der dur­ing my work, I be­lieve my new mem­ber­ship will en­cour­age more women sci­en­tists in their own re­search,” she said.

The av­er­age age of the 53 Chi­nese mem­bers in this year’s elec­tion is 54. The av­er­age age of CAS mem­bers has hov­ered around 53 in re­cent years. The av­er­age age in 2011 was 52.6 and 54.1 in 2009.

The CAS also elected nine for­eign mem­bers from six coun­tries — the United States, France, Den­mark, Is­rael, Brazil and In­dia.

The to­tal num­ber of Chi­nese CAS mem­bers is 750, and that of for­eign CAS mem­bers is 72.

CAS elects new mem­bers ev­ery two years and no more than 60 peo­ple re­ceive that honor. A can­di­date should be rec­om­mended to CAS ei­ther by the in­sti­tute that em­ploys the can­di­date, or by other CAS mem­bers. CAS mem­bers then as­sess and vote in an elec­tion.

But there has been crit­i­cism on the CAS’ elec­tion of mem­bers in re­cent years.

In Novem­ber, the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee said re­forms should be made in the aca­demi­cian sys­tem of the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences and the Chi­nese Academy of Engineering.

CAS Pres­i­dent Bai Chunli said it will find a bet­ter way to make rec­om­men­da­tions for can­di­dates, strengthen peer re­views and fil­ter out non-aca­demic opin­ions in the elec­tion of mem­bers.

Shi Yigong said he hopes that China’s sci­ence so­ci­ety will set stricter re­quire­ments for peo­ple who are al­ready elected as CAS mem­bers.

“In the past, peo­ple be­lieved that with a ti­tle of CAS mem­ber­ship, it would be eas­ier for a sci­en­tist to raise re­search funds. But when I was in the US, we set higher re­quire­ments for an aca­demi­cian than for a young sci­en­tist. So in the fu­ture, I hope do­mes­tic peers choose a young sci­en­tist’s pro­posal over mine if we were at the same level, and I also hope the over­all eval­u­a­tion sys­tem in China will be more in­clined to young peo­ple, rather than aca­demi­cians of the same level,” he said.

The Chi­nese Academy of Engineering also dis­closed new mem­ber­ships on Thurs­day. The av­er­age age of the 51 new mem­bers was 56.9.

Xu Qi­nan, 77 and the chief de­signer of the Jiao­long manned sub­ma­rine, was the old­est mem­ber this time.

YANG JIA / FOR CHINA DAILY

A model of the next-gen­er­a­tion tur­bo­prop MA-700 re­gional air­liner is on dis­play at an air show in 2010. Avi­a­tion In­dus­try Corp of China, a ma­jor Chi­nese air­craft man­u­fac­turer, said on Thurs­day it will com­plete the de­sign of the 78-seat air­liner next year. Its maiden flight is slated for 2016.

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