Strong sup­port for sci­en­tists

USTC shields promis­ing re­searchers from daily wor­ries so they can fo­cus on their work, re­ports.

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

Hav­ing worked at the Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy of China for al­most two years, Gong Chen said he has never wor­ried about fund­ing for his re­search.

The young pro­fes­sor, 33, ma­jors in op­ti­cal wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion and net­works. He was re­cruited by USTC’s School of In­for­ma­tion Science and Tech­nol­ogy early in 2014 and was listed in the coun­try’s High-level Over­seas Young Tal­ents Re­cruit­ment Plan, or the Thou­sand Young Tal­ents Plan.

As a re­sult, Gong was given a to­tal of 6 mil­lion yuan as ini­tial fund­ing for his re­search, with 3 mil­lion com­ing from the govern­ment and 3 mil­lion from the uni­ver­sity. The money has been al­lot­ted to him over the course of five years, start­ing in 2014.

Gong at­tained his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in the Shang­hai-based Jiao Tong Uni­ver­sity in 2005 and his mas­ter’s de­gree in the Bei­jing-based Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity in 2008.

In 2012, he achieved his PhD de­gree at the New York-based Columbia Uni­ver­sity. Af­ter that, he worked at Qual­comm un­til 2014.

To work in an in­ter­na­tional com­pany like Qual­comm and in a first-class uni­ver­sity like USTC were both in Gong’s ca­reer plan. “To start from a com­pany and then shift to a uni­ver­sity would be bet­ter for my re­search”, said Gong, who is now a pro­fes­sor and vice direc­tor of a lab at USTC.

Also teach­ing an un­der­grad­u­ate course called In­for­ma­tion The­ory, Gong said, “I found that the at­mos­phere among both the fac­ulty and the students is just like what I had ex­pe­ri­enced in the United States.”

Xu Ning, a young physi­cist at the uni­ver­sity, is an­other ben­e­fi­ciary of USTC’s heart­felt sup­port pro­vided to tal­ents.

A for­mer un­der­grad­u­ate of USTC, Xu re­ceived his PhD de­gree from Yale Uni­ver­sity in 2005 and then worked at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and the Chi­nese Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong un­til 2010, when he re­turned to USTC through a ma­jor tal­en­tre­cruit­ment pro­gram.

USTC gave Xu a to­tal of 2.7 mil­lion yuan ($440,500) in the first year as ini­tial fund­ing for his re­search and more was pro­vided to him in the fol­low­ing years.

“It is a con­sid­er­able sum of money, even com­pared with amounts I got over­seas,” said Xu. He added that he has en­joyed his time at USTC and has achieved sev­eral re­search break­throughs in the past four years.

uni­ver­sity.

“The uni­ver­sity doesn’t have many re­stric­tions as to how to use the ini­tial funds, so that we can use the money more rea­son­ably”, said Zhang Huafeng, a life sciences pro­fes­sor at USTC.

Zhang had been study­ing and work­ing in Ja­pan and the United States for sev­eral years. She had been work­ing at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity as a post­doc­tor­ate and re­searcher as­so­ciate from 2005 to 2010.

Dur­ing this time, Zhang and her hus­band, who was also her col­league at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, vis­ited USTC for aca­demic pur­poses.

“That was my first time at the uni­ver­sity and it im­pressed me very much”, said Zhang.

Af­ter look­ing into the uni­ver­sity for a pe­riod of time, the cou­ple de­cided to ac­cept its re­cruit­ment in­vi­ta­tion and moved to He­fei, An­hui province in 2011.

As a prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Zhang is now in charge of a lab that con­sists of about 20 peo­ple, and she is given full free­dom to lead the team’s re­search.

“I have heard many sci­en­tists from some other uni­ver­si­ties com­plain­ing that they have to at­tend many ad­min­is­tra­tion con­fer­ences, while luck­ily enough, such things sel­dom hap­pen in USTC”, said Zhang.

Apart from the ini­tial fund­ing

con­ducts an op­ti­cal ex­per­i­ment at a lab in the

given by USTC, the uni­ver­sity also helps young sci­en­tists to ap­ply for fur­ther sup­port­ing funds, in­clud­ing those from the govern­ment and the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences. Apart­ments are also pro­vided to help the sci­en­tists set­tle in as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Sci­en­tific re­search is a process of ac­cu­mu­la­tion and dis­cov­ery. Each re­searcher should work at his or her own pace, and in­ter­fer­ence with the process may hin­der the re­searcher’s work,” said Li Chuan­feng, a 43 year-old pro­fes­sor.

“In the years from 2006 to 2008, when I didn’t make any sig­nif­i­cant progress with my re­search, the uni­ver­sity gave me no pres­sure, but rather full free­dom to go at my own pace,” said Li.

In 2009, Li emerged as a well-known sci­en­tist on quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion by achiev­ing mul­ti­ple break­throughs in the field and pub­lish­ing sev­eral in­flu­en­tial ar­ti­cles in Na­ture science jour­nals.

“By firmly sup­port­ing young sci­en­tists by var­i­ous means, we aim to help them go fur­ther in their sci­en­tific ca­reers,” said Dou Xiankang, vice pres­i­dent of USTC.

CAI XINGYANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

The uni­ver­sity pro­vides young sci­en­tists with a good re­search at­mos­phere and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

FAN QIONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A re­searcher

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