Re­turnee tal­ents flock to USTC

Uni­ver­sity im­presses as mag­net for young re­searchers with in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, Zhu Lixin re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - EDUCATIONAL SPECIAL - Con­tact the writer at zhulixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In re­cent years, re­ports about Pan Jian­wei and his team have of­ten been seen on the front pages, es­pe­cially since the launch of the world’s first quan­tum ex­per­i­ment satel­lite in Au­gust.

Be­ing a top physi­cist from the Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy of China and chief sci­en­tist for the quan­tum satel­lite project, Pan has won many awards and honors since he re­turned from Aus­tria’s Uni­ver­sity of Vi­enna to his alma mater USTC in 2001.

Born in 1970, Pan was of­ten re­ferred to as the youngest some­body to have achieved some­thing.

In 2011, Pan be­came the youngest mem­ber of the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences, the coun­try’s top sci­en­tific body, and the coun­try’s youngest lau­re­ate of the top prize of the State Nat­u­ral Science Award ear­lier this year.

Most of the other mem­bers in Pan’s team are also very young, with an av­er­age age of less than 40.

Be­hind the honors were the nu­mer­ous break­throughs he has achieved with his team, which he has built since 2001, when he re­turned to USTC through CAS’ over­seas tal­ent re­cruit­ment plan.

“The uni­ver­sity has benefi a lot from draw­ing in in­ter­na­tional tal­ent in re­cent years,” said Dou Xiankang, vice-pres­i­dent of USTC, be­fore he left for the United States for re­cruit­ing events tak­ing place next week.

Pan is just one of the hun­dreds of bright minds the uni­ver­sity has at­tracted from abroad in re­cent years, thanks to its mul­ti­ple tal­ent re­cruit­ment plans, vary­ing from the uni­ver­sity-level to the state-level.

By the end of 2008, the coun­try’s top au­thor­i­ties ini­ti­ated the Re­cruit­ment Pro­gram of Global Ex­perts, known as the Thou­sand Tal­ents Plan, to bring in top over­seas tal­ents to the Chi­nese main­land over the fol­low­ing five to 10 years.

Pan was listed as one of the first batch of tal­ents for this plan in 2008.

Among the tal­ents the uni­ver­sity has at­tracted in re­cent years, 44 peo­ple have been listed in the Thou­sand Tal­ents Plan.

When study­ing and work­ing in Aus­tria, Pan, who is now the stand­ing vice pres­i­dent of USTC, told the fa­mous Aus­trian physi­cist An­ton Zeilinger, his PhD ad­viser, that he dreamed of build­ing a worldlead­ing lab in China that is sim­i­lar to Zeilinger’s .

Based on their sci­en­tific strengths, Pan’s team, which are of­ten called the “Dream Team” by me­dia, have gained a lot of sup­port from the uni­ver­sity, CAS and the govern­ment.

The lab that Pan built from scratch in USTC since 2001 is now world-lead­ing in the field of quan­tum science and tech­nol­ogy.

Last month, CAS and the An­hui provin­cial govern­ment reached an agree­ment to build a na­tional lab­o­ra­tory for quan­tum in­for­ma­tion, in which Pan’s team is ex­pected to play a lead­ing role.

The uni­ver­sity cur­rently houses two na­tional labs - the Na­tional Syn­chro­tron Ra­di­a­tion Lab­o­ra­tory and the He­fei Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory for Phys­i­cal Sciences at the Mi­croscale — the only uni­ver­sity in the coun­try to have more than one na­tional lab­o­ra­tory, the high­est level among all types of labs in the coun­try.

The fa­cil­ity has since be­come a mag­net for young sci­en­tists, at­tract­ing dozens of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent quan­tum physi­cists. One of these in­di­vid­u­als is Lu Chaoyang, who was sin­gled out by the science jour­nal Na­ture in June as one of the top-10 ris­ing stars in China’s science sec­tor.

Lu fol­lowed a sim­i­lar ed­u­ca­tion a path to that of Pan. He got his bach­e­lor’s and mas­ter’s de­grees of USTC be­fore mov­ing over­seas for his PhD study.

From 2008 to 2011, Lu had been study­ing and work­ing in the Cavendish Lab­o­ra­tory at the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge and pub­lished a pa­per in Na­ture in 2010 as the lead author. He re­turned to USTC in 2011.

The cen­tral au­thor­i­ties launched the High-level Over­seas Young Tal­ents Re­cruit­ment Plan in 2011, aimed at in­tro­duc­ing 2,000 re­searchers and sci­en­tists aged around 35 from 2011 to 2015, also brought large num­bers of young Chi­nese tal­ent back from abroad.

This con­trib­uted to an in­crease in young aca­demic lead­ers.

“It was Pan who en­cour­aged Lu to do his PhD work at the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge and con­vinced him to re­turn to China with the prom­ise that the govern­ment is in­vest­ing heav­ily in quan­tum in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, and that bright young physi­cists could fo­cus on re­search rather than se­cur­ing fund­ing,” stated a re­port in Na­ture, cit­ing Lu.

To­day, 146 of the tal­ents at­tracted by USTC have been listed in the Thou­sand Young Tal­ents Plan.

The uni­ver­sity also en­joys 116 win­ners of the Na­tional Science Fund for Dis­tin­guished Young Schol­ars, a fund­ing pro­gram to sup­port the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent young sci­en­tists, and 44 mem­bers of the CAS, or the county’s top science body.

Among the nearly 2,000 teach­ers and re­searchers, 83 per­cent of them have PhD de­grees, while about 70 per­cent are younger than 45 years old, ac­cord­ing to the uni­ver­sity’s hu­man re­sources depart­ment.

An­hui province.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Students from home and abroad en­joy dis­cus­sion at USTC.

China is in­vest­ing heav­ily in quan­tum in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, so that bright young physi­cists can fo­cus on re­search rather than se­cur­ing fund­ing. Lu Chaoyang, aquan­tum physi­cist­whore­turnedto USTCin2011fromtheUniver­sity USTC sup­ported me by fund­ing my year-long over­seas ex­pe­ri­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Manch­ester by col­lab­o­rat­ing with An­dre Geim, lau­re­ate of the 2010 No­bel Prize in Physics. The op­por­tu­nity was a turn­ing point for my aca­demic ca­reer, as it broad­ened my per­spec­tives on re­search. Wu Heng’an, USTCpro­fes­sor fo­cuse­dongraphite

The uni­ver­sity doesn’t have many re­stric­tions as to how to use the ini­tial funds given to re­cruited tal­ents, so we can use the money more rea­son­ably Zhang Huafeng, al­ife­sciences came­toUSTCfromJohns Hop­kin­sUniver­si­tyin2011 I found that the at­mos­phere among the fac­ulty and the students is just like what I have ex­pe­ri­enced in the United States Gong Chen, aUSTCpro­fes­sor who­joinedthe­uni­ver­si­tyin 2014and­has­been­fo­cusin­gon op­ti­cal­wire­less­com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Pan Jian­wei (right) and Lu Chaoyang con­duct re­search at the Uni­ver­sity’s Na­tional Syn­chro­tron Ra­di­a­tion Lab­o­ra­tory.

Over­seas students take part in USTC’s summer camp in He­fei,

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