GradschoolShopper visits Chinese physics departments and research institutes

Between September 19 and 27, 2012, I had the opportunity to join two publishers of AIP journals, Dr. Mark Cassar and Dr. Robert Harington, and two Editors of AIP journals, Dr. Charlie Johnson and Dr. Leslie Yeo, for a five-city tour of the campuses of 10 universities and 3 research institutes affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Charlie Johnson visits Chinese Nano Center

Dr. Weiguo Chu introduced the new facilities of the Nano Center to Dr. Charlie Johnson, Executive Editor of AIP Advances.





At each stop, we were able to meet with scores of students and researchers. While the editors introduced their own research and promoted the journals they edit, and the publishers lectured on how to submit papers to scientific journals, I gave an overview of AIP and its services and then focused on introducing

We were also able to visit some labs and meet some department leaders and faculty members, most of whom were recently recruited back from the U.S. to work in China, through the various talent recruitment plans, such as Chang Jiang Scholars Program, Hundred Talents Program,  1000-Plan, and National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars.

All of these departments and institutes have specific goals and funding for internationalization. They set high priorities to continue to recruit talented physicists to work or study in China, short-term or long-term. They are not only recruiting ethnic Chinese faculty members but are also actively attracting non-ethnic Chinese global experts, through the Recruitment Program of Foreign Experts (RPFE).  Some ambitious departments are talking about attracting more overseas graduate students and undergraduate students as well. Dr. Xiangdong Ji, chair of the Department of Physics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, even wants to attract American undergraduate students to do internships in his department.

At the same time, the top physics departments and institutes in China are encouraging students and researchers at all levels to further their studies and research in high-quality programs abroad. Several research institutes are trying to send more of their Ph.Ds to receive postdoctoral training in U.S. and other countries. Some departments are developing joint graduate programs with overseas departments. In some top physics departments in China, like Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University, every year, one-third of the recipients of B.S. in Physics seek graduate education abroad, one-third seek further education in China, and one-third seek immediate employment.

What interested me most was the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Experimental Cultivation Plan for Top-Level Undergraduates of Basic Sciences, also called the Everest Plan (基础学科拔尖学生培养试验计划-珠峰计划). The Ministry of Education has selected 20 top Chinese universities and provides special funding for educating and training selected top-level undergraduate students in the subjects of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science. These students form special classes, attend classes sometimes taught from foreign experts, work in labs with senior researchers, and sometimes have the opportunity to do short-term study, research or exchange abroad. Dr. Fuli Zhao of Sun Yat-Sen University gave me an overall introduction of the plan and sought U.S. departments of physics that would like to accept these Chinese students for short-term visits.


SPS members at the Southeast University, Nanjing, China.

I was also pleased to see that quite a few Chinese physics departments are interested in establishing SPS chapters. The first SPS chapter in China was set up in Southeast University in Nanjing at the end of 2010. The first group of 23 students became SPS members. In March 2012, the research team of the Southeast University Chapter received the 2012 SPS Undergraduate Research Award, the first given by SPS to an overseas chapter. Six students and one faculty advisor will come to Orlando, Florida to attend the 2012 Physics Congress in early November. Encouraged by this news, several more Chinese physics departments expressed interest in setting up SPS chapters on their campuses.

It is clear that Chinese physics departments have high interest in international exchanges and collaboration. They want to know more about their peers abroad and also want very much to be better known by the global physics community.

By Julie Zhu, Ph.D, Global Product and Market Development Project Manager,

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