Excellent Educators – Creating the Ideal Research Group
Chris Edwards | 05/07/2019

The formation of research groups at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) is always a challenging component of every researcher’s time. Associate Professor Xu Jing from the Department of Chemistry was successful in forming an incredible research group of students. All six senior students have been accepted into prestigious institutions such as the Scripps Research Institute, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dartmouth College, University of Hong Kong, Indiana University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The influence of Associate Professor Xu Jing has been significant on all six students. We interviewed the students to find out how they had improved, under the inspiration of their research group leader. By working together in an intense research environment, they have developed substantially under the tutelage of Associate Professor Xu Jing, and will continue on to great things at the new institutions.

Chen Fang – Introverted freshman to independent senior

Senior student Chen Fang has received an offer from the Scripps Research Institute to complete his Ph.D. Chen recalled that his mother had accompanied him to SUSTech and filled out the form before effectively encouraging him to be a better person. Associate Professor Xu Jing helped Chen Fang to join his research group, as Chen Fang loved chemistry. Chen received plenty of patient advice from Xu Jing, which has seen Chen Fang succeed academically through his four years at SUSTech and prove to his parents that he had made the right choice.

While Chen Fang originally started on basic work in the research group, he moved forward in a logical manner to do more sophisticated work. In his junior and senior years, he was participating in important research projects that were published in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. And Natural Chemistry Review.

Pu Fan – Lively learner

Pu Fan has always been cheerful. However, it took him time to adapt to SUSTech’s unique educational style. Associate Professor Xu Jing was also his tutor, so provided guidance and encouragement, and was happy to accept Pu Fan into his research group on request. Pu Fan was able to adjust in his sophomore year, and started to catch up on his studies.

Pu Fan has investigated two different research fields before settling on medicinal chemistry. He has since decided to continue his post-graduate studies at the University of Hong Kong. He believes that the core of studying chemistry is understanding that if one direction fails, try another route, and never give up. Pu Fan was also a regular participant in many student organizations as well as his residential college basketball team.

Fu Yifei – Cheerful and sharing

Fu Yifei has an exploratory spirit to scientific research. He is full of curiosity and wants to examine different fields of organic chemistry. Fu Yifei also knows how to maximize the use of the resources available to him. SUSTech often invites experts from home and abroad to give guest lectures, providing faculty members and students with rich academic resources and a good communication platform. After one such lecture, Fu Yifei handed his resume to Professor Jonathan Sessler from the University of Texas at Austin. He asked if he could go to his group to study. The professor later offered Fu Yifei an opportunity to join his research group where he completed a six month internship. This research experience helped determine his future development. Fu Yifei reflected on his personal experience to show how he had must fully utilize the scientific resources at his disposal in order to show his skills.

Zhao Tongyun – practical and passionate

Zhao Tongyun showed his full commitment to the research group. The influence of Xu Jing saw Zhao Tongyun spend a significant amount of time working on the highly efficient synthesis of a highly complex diterpene molecule last year. Zhao Tongyun did not hesitate to change his summer vacation tickets home twice. It was his dedication to the team that saw him make the indispensible contribution to the group’s research.

Tian Peilin – Joyful leader

Associate Professor Xu Jing noted that his research group was exceptionally hard working, and this was particularly the case with student leader Tian Peilin. He could often be found working late into the night or into the early hours of the morning ensuring that research was completed. Tian Peilin did not let his research get in the way of his extracurricular activities, as he was also known for his position as vice-president of the Shuren College Baking Club. He found a sense of accomplishment in two different laboratories and with two different sets of precise ingredients. However, one allowed him to share food with like-minded friends and one has seen his academic skills advance.

It was not just his baking skills that he was known for. Tian Peilin appreciated the long hours that everyone would put in the laboratory, and would sing to try and relax everyone.

Xu Tianyue – novel thinker

Xu Tianye was the last member to join the group. The decision to move to Associate Professor Xu Jing’s research group was driven by a desire to learn more about the full synthesis of certain chemicals.

“Chemistry is actually very difficult to learn,” Xu Tianyue said. “True love is the only support mechanism while studying chemistry.” Your own interest is the biggest influence and one’s infinite enthusiasm is the source of motivation for research. Xu Tianyue believes that a solid theoretical foundation is very important for doing experiments.

Xu Tianyue has participated in several volunteer activities while at SUSTech. He liked volunteering and enjoyed the happiness of helping others.

The role of Xu Jing and the students

Associate Professor Xu Jing ensured that everyone plays an important and unique role in the group. His gentle and caring personality saw him treat the students with patience and guide them through processes with logic and care. Senior students would take on leading roles to guide newer students, creating a positive atmosphere in the research group.

The students said that it was rare for all six of them to work together, as their projects would generally require them to work in groups of 2 or 3. Associate Professor Xu Jing would sometimes create competitions between groups, but it was this friendly spirit of cooperation and competition that saw the students significantly improve their theoretical and practical knowledge.

Despite the competition between each other, everyone still enjoyed each other’s company. They regularly dined and partied together, while exchanging ideas at many opportunities. Associate Professor Xu Jing added that their achievements can be mainly attributed to their own efforts. The students disagreed, arguing that while Xu Jing can be strict, his care and dedication reflects their success. It was the environment created by Xu Jing that has seen them flourish into the accomplished scientists they are today, and has seen them receive the offers around the world. It is no coincidence that Associate Professor Xu Jing has provided them with the solid foundation to go further.

2019, 05-07
By Chris Edwards

From the Series

Graduate Stories

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

Proofread ByXia Yingying

Photo ByZhang Xiaoyan


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