Announcement of the results of the 2023 newly elected academicians, are there any familiar teachers among the newly elected academicians? What impressions do you have of him/her?

The Story of a Tutors Election as an Academician

A Nice Guy Can Be a Top Scientist

Thank you for the invitation from Zhihu.

I have been busy with graduation and job hunting in the past year, but how could I miss this question?

First of all, I am very happy that my mentor, Professor Xu Xing, was elected as a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

There is something unique. Today, in my own circle of friends, many paleontology enthusiasts, science popularizers, and even some dinosaur fans' parents who have known me before I entered the field of paleontological research have successively forwarded this news. Everyone expressed the same thing: I am really happy that Professor Xu Xing was elected as a member of the Academy!"

Yes, I should put aside the person who is probably the happiest at this moment, Professor Xu Xing (but I know he is a person who is indifferent to such things), let’s not talk about him for now.

Why are other people so excited?

For me, for my junior and senior fellow students, for every Asian who can casually meet at paleontological academic conferences, for every enthusiast who argues fiercely on Tieba and Zhihu, for every young person who goes crazy wearing an inflatable dinosaur suit at a comic exhibition, and even for every child who passes by a paleontological museum and glances a little longer, Xu Xing is an almost perfect hero scientist, a projection of a childhood dream made real. And the reason why this thing itself is joyful is because it will make many people feel that in this world, there is positive feedback for some young, audacious, and unrealistic fantasies.

In 2012, when I was a freshman, Professor Xu came to our school to give a lecture, and I had the honor to represent the college in receiving him. Since the collaboration started in 2013, I have been studying under Professor Xu’s guidance all the way from undergraduate to master’s degree, and then went to the University of Bristol in the UK for a PhD recommended by him. Time flies quickly, but I read books very slowly. However, I finally obtained my PhD degree last month.

For eleven years, Professor Xu Xing has been my mentor, but I think today it is not necessary to discuss too much about academic matters. His diligence and astonishingly prolific scientific research output are known to everyone.

But everyone who knows him will tell you that he is really a very good person. It’s a very ordinary description, but I believe that anyone who knows Professor Xu will agree with my description. It doesn’t need complicated words, just “a very good person.”

He will keep a letter from a child and stick it on the fossil cabinet.

When giving lectures outside, no matter how simple or complicated the questions are, he will patiently explain with a smile.

He is the kind of mentor who will call and email us students, telling us to take care of our health, not go out during the epidemic, and pay attention to our mental well-being. But every student of ours understands that he works harder than anyone else.

The following paragraph is a congratulatory message written by our college dean when my PhD supervisor, Professor Michael Benton, received the OBE medal two years ago. I think it is written very well, so I will put it here as the ending. Having such two mentors is the greatest fortune of my life.

Popular cultural works always tell us that top scientists are geeks and nerds. What’s the matter, does that mean a scientist can’t be a good person? Can’t be a handsome, decent human being? Or that a nice guy can’t be a good scientist? The answer is a Big NO, please look at him.

A Genuine and Kind Person

It’s true.

At that time, he was busy applying for the title of academician. Blinking, so many years have passed, and he finally succeeded.

I sincerely feel happy for him.

And also happy for the country.

As for the impression, everyone thinks that he is not fit for being an official. He has a bad temper and speaks his mind. He doesn’t give any face to the department heads when scolding them.

I even witnessed him embarrass a certain department head with his scolding.

It is even said that because of something I did, two leaders were scolded and lost face. (This also resulted in me not being able to stay in the original unit anymore)

But for someone like me, he is actually very understanding and compassionate. (I won’t go into details, in case I am recognized.)

So, I have always felt grateful, even though this gratitude doesn’t mean much.

Simply speaking, he is someone truly talented, devoted to learning, and unwilling to waste time on the officialdom.

But as a person, he is good and kind.

Perhaps in the eyes of subordinates, he may seem arrogant and dictatorial, but in the eyes of ordinary people, he is sincere and free from bureaucratic habits.

New Academician in Control Field: Dr. Guo Lei from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

One of the newly elected academicians in the field of control this year is Professor Guo Lei from Beihang University. His main research focus is on the theory and application of anti-interference control. He has made important contributions in both theory and engineering. Professor Guo Lei is from Qufu, Shandong province. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Qufu Normal University, and his doctoral degree from Southeast University.

Coincidentally, there is also an academician named Guo Lei in the field of control, who is also from Shandong province and shares the exact same name. His reputation precedes him, and many of us have imagined the scenario where both of these professors are elected academicians to some extent. This imagination has become reality this year, becoming an academic story worth telling.

Scientist’s Achievement in LHAASO: China’s High-energy Physics Institute

During this year’s selection process for academicians, I predicted that Professor Cao Zhen from the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences had the ability to be elected as an academician.

With the upcoming selection of academicians, what are your predictions for the second round of results?

Today, the results of the second round of academician selection were announced, and Professor Cao has indeed made it onto the list, truly deserving of the honor!

Professor Cao is the Chief Scientist of the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), a major scientific project located in Daocheng, Sichuan Province, on the edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude of over 4,000 meters on the Haizi Mountain. The pronunciation of LHAASO is similar to the Tibetan word “laso,” which means “good,” seemingly indicating that LHAASO can produce good scientific research results. The main research focus of this project is high-energy cosmic rays, and since its construction and operation, it has indeed produced a large number of world-class scientific research achievements. I have previously introduced LHAASO and its achievements on Zhihu after attending a release conference for LHAASO’s results:

The capture of a signal from the Cygnus constellation emitted thousands of years ago has led to the discovery of a large amount of ultra-high-energy cosmic accelerators and the highest energy photons in our galaxy. What is the significance of this discovery?

Inside the office building of the Institute of High Energy Physics, there is a sand table of LHAASO, which provides a glimpse of the overall picture of LHAASO:

During a live streaming event two years ago, I had the opportunity to connect with Professor Cao Zhen and ask him to introduce the development process of LHAASO. He recalled many stories from the early years of LHAASO’s construction, such as their expeditions on horseback to survey potential construction sites on the plateau. Scientists are not always conducting research in ivory towers or in the sky; in order to obtain the best scientific research results, they often engage in scientific engineering projects under the most arduous and challenging conditions. Professor Cao Zhen is such a scientist.

In our Zhihu Lighthouse program produced this year, we also filmed LHAASO and interviewed Professor Cao Zhen. The editing process for this episode is currently underway, and we look forward to sharing it with everyone.

Disappointment about not being promoted

Disappointed with my presentation not going well, planning to stay late tonight and work on it again

My presentation didn’t go well again, I’m very disappointed. Tonight, I’ll call my colleagues to the office and give it another shot.

The influence of my undergraduate mentor on my research journey

Congratulations on my undergraduate mentor. He’s an academician. So, my doctoral mentor should work harder!


The newly elected academician, my undergraduate mentor, Professor Yu Hanqing.

The free atmosphere at the University of Science and Technology of China is especially cherished when you look back on it after leaving. In the second year of my undergraduate studies, I was able to choose a laboratory to conduct scientific research. However, when I was in my second year, Professor Yu had not yet joined USTC, so I was in another teacher’s research group. When it was time to decide on my undergraduate thesis in my senior year, Professor Yu gave us a lecture on environmental chemistry. We were already familiar with the research fields and work of other professors in the department, but what Professor Yu taught was very novel. So I decided to do my undergraduate thesis under his supervision.

At that time, it seemed like there weren’t many procedures. Professor Yu had just arrived and was short of hands. He nodded, and the next day I went to the laboratory to work. When I first arrived, I followed a master’s sister to become familiar with the equipment. Later, Professor Yu found a literature, saying that using microwave heating on activated carbon could degrade organic dyes in water. Professor Yu thought this was very interesting and wanted me to try it.

I was a little panicked because this experiment required a lot of new things, and it was difficult to set up the conditions. Before this, I hadn’t imagined that my undergraduate thesis would be so complicated. Professor Yu said not to worry and encouraged me to try boldly. Then he told me a story.

He said, in the early years, there was a football team in the English Premier League called Wimbledon FC. Their style of play was that no matter who had the ball in the backcourt, they would kick a long pass directly to the frontcourt and see what would happen. If their own forward got the ball, maybe they could score. If they didn’t get it, they could always defend. So, just kick it off. Kick the ball out and who knows what will happen.

At that time, I was wondering if this wasn’t just a long pass. I also played football and knew a lot about European leagues. Wimbledon FC had long since left the Premier League, which showed that their style of play was unreliable. But looking back now, this story had a great influence on me, and I still remember it clearly.

Professor Yu supported me with more than 500 yuan, and I went to the mall to buy a microwave oven. I brought it to the school factory and made a hole in the side to install a condensation reflux device. Then I picked a fume hood and hung a piece of iron sheet on the surface as a shield against microwaves, and started the experiment.

I put activated carbon and water containing dyes in a flask, and then heated it in the microwave oven. The color of the dye in the water did indeed become lighter. The literature stated that the microwave formed a high-temperature hot spot in the activated carbon, degrading the dye. At first, I was excited, but then I felt something was wrong. So I put the reacted activated carbon in methanol and heated it again. As a result, the methanol washed out the dye. In other words, there was no degradation at all, just adsorption of the dye molecules by the activated carbon.

I reported the results to Professor Yu in disappointment, and he asked if the amount of dye washed out was the same as before adsorption. I did more meticulous experiments to prove that they were the same. Professor Yu also sighed and said that Chinese literature was unreliable. My bias against Chinese literature probably stems from this.

Professor Yu encouraged me not to be discouraged. He said that undergraduate theses are not so strict. It is ideal to prove a experimental phenomenon, but even disproving it is a complete work. Summarize it and write it up, it’s enough for graduation. Then he told me about his own experience in scientific research. At that time, Professor Yu was working on biohydrogen production, and he said that when he was in Hong Kong, he could easily produce hydrogen by cultivating algae. But in Hefei, under the same conditions and with the same equipment, hydrogen couldn’t be produced. Professor Yu was also very worried, and I don’t know if he eventually solved the problem.

At that time, I didn’t have a clear plan for my future. My classmates were all busy going abroad, so I followed suit and took the TOEFL and GRE exams. Later, a military research institute came to recruit graduate students without exams, and I became very interested, so I went for an interview. I passed the interview and was welcomed to do my undergraduate thesis at the institute. I told Professor Yu about this, and he was very happy and highly supportive of my engagement in national defense work. And so, I completed my undergraduate thesis at my future workplace. Before graduation, I returned to Professor Yu’s laboratory. At that time, he served as the chairman of the thesis evaluation committee of our department, and he said to me, solely based on the quality of the thesis, many others had done better than me, but he arranged for me to receive the “Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis” award for that year. Because many graduating students who were going abroad didn’t need it, but I was going to a national institution and they might value it more. I thought to myself that it was unnecessary, but I happily accepted this honor. At that time, I didn’t expect that I would resign more than ten years later. I really apologize to Professor Yu for his good intentions back then.

Looking back, many seemingly insignificant fragments of history are important parts of life. It is these moments of witnessing and hearing that have shaped who I am today. In my later studies and work, whenever I faced difficult choices, I would tell myself, just kick it off. Just like Caesar said at the Rubicon River, the dice has already been thrown.

In my daily research work, I often encourage my colleagues to try boldly, as long as personal safety is guaranteed, and it’s not a big deal if the equipment breaks. I would tell them: Kick the ball out and then see what will happen. But I guess they don’t know what I’m talking about. At that time, the scene I had in mind was the long pass from the captain of Wimbledon FC.

Is Wimbledon FC still around?

The Legendary Academic “Huilin Sister” in MI.

Sister Hui Ling (Academician Hui Ling Duan at Peking University) is an extraordinary person. It is said that she came to Peking University alone with her four-year-old son to pursue a Ph.D. Now she is an academician, and her son has also gone to study at MIT or Harvard. Truly a time management master and education expert. It is said that she graduated from Northeast Petroleum University (formerly known as Daqing Petroleum Institute) for her undergraduate studies. To imagine the hardships she has experienced over the years to achieve today’s accomplishments is truly remarkable. I heard one of her presentations on a water-repellent material a few years ago, inspired by lotus leaves, and it was very impressive. There was also a slight connection to the German school where she received her Humboldt Prize, and I have met several of her students. Her team has also grown in number, and the students at Peking University are quite impressive too, with very flexible thinking, so the achievements have stacked up. It is well-deserved for her to become an academician.

Not to mention that she is practically super-powered - Mongolian, non-Party member, and a woman. She truly encompasses the idea of the “ignorant young girl.” There were rumors a few days ago that Professor Yang might become an academician instead of her, and we all felt quite disappointed. But today, the results came out, and her name was right there on the list. We privately refer to her as Sister Hui Ling. Although she can appear cold and imposing at times, she is actually very kind and smiling to younger scholars. I haven’t heard any of her students say anything negative about her. It is probably the same within her research group. She is also actively recommending her doctoral students to apply for the Humboldt Scholar program and provides a lot of help. She can be considered a good mentor who actively contributes to the development of her students.

With her election as an academician this time, her status in the academic community will undoubtedly be elevated. Not only in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences but also in the field of materials, her reputation has already been established. There should be more opportunities to hear her present at conferences in the future. Looking forward to it.

That’s about it.


Professor Li Hui from Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), a leading figure in structural health monitoring in China, has produced a wealth of long-term bridge monitoring data through her team. Her research covers a wide range of areas. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person once during an offline meeting, and she was extremely friendly. Her recognition as an academician is well-deserved. Congratulations!

A Dedicated and Influential Mentor

Professor He Chuan, my graduate advisor

The most memorable moment was during the interview for graduate school recommendation back then. He told us that he had started university at the age of 16. I then blurted out, “I went to college before I turned 17 too!” I don’t know where I found the courage to say that at the time.

After I started working, there was a time when our boss treated him to a meal, and I accompanied them. He said at the dinner table, “This student of mine is exceptional, he writes excellent research papers.” (At that moment, I felt a sense of shame because I ended up being a deserter in scientific research.) When he was outside, he always spoke highly of his students.

He is always very busy, so during the three years of my graduate studies, I didn’t have many opportunities to meet and exchange with him. After graduation, I always wished I had learned more from him when I was by his side.

Accomplishments of Ding Hong and Zheng Nanfeng

After starting work, Professor Ding Hong’s students have had contact with several other teachers, and Professor Ding Hong himself has also met them a few times.

Professor Ding Hong was introduced back to China in 2008 through the “Thousand Talents Program”. Before returning to China, he was a professor at Boston College. The first batch of the “Thousand Talents Program” had great significance. It’s amazing how time flies. Professor Ding Hong has already been working in China for fifteen years, surpassing his time working overseas. He has now been elected as an academician, which can be considered a success of the “Thousand Talents Program” (although it is not often mentioned now). The program has brought in talented individuals who have had great development opportunities.

According to his students, Professor Ding Hong still believes in the saying “A teacher’s influence extends throughout the world”. Many of his students have obtained good teaching positions, and they are spread across many different schools, not just confined to his own department.

Recently, Professor Ding returned to his undergraduate alma mater, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he holds a position at the Li Zhengdao Institute. He has now been elected as an academician. It’s a win-win situation.

During my doctoral studies, because of collaboration, students from Professor Zheng Nanfeng’s lab (who had a more experienced advisor from Xiamen University) came to collaborate with us (they mostly stayed with us). It’s been almost ten years since then. At that time, Professor Zheng was already quite well-known, but I didn’t check his resume. I just thought he was famous, and the platform at Xiamen University was good, so I casually said, “Professor Zheng will be an academician sooner or later.” Now he actually became one. Looking at it, he’s only 45 years old, which really surprised me. He must have been quite young when he became famous.

I can’t help but marvel at the saying “Different fields are like different mountains”. Professor Zheng became an academician, a joke I made ten years ago actually came true. However, when it comes to Yan Ning, I always feel that her work is too similar to Shi Yigong’s. I’ve expressed doubts about it several times on Zhihu, and it’s really embarrassing.