Zhang Shiheng: Falling in love in mathematics at SUSTech
Chris Edwards | 08/09/2019

For recent graduate Zhang Shiheng, mathematics is a field that incites happiness and joy. He was pleased to learn more, discuss problem solving methods, talk to professors and investigate new ways to solving mathematical challenges. He has no desire to earn vast amounts of wealth, but to be a successful researcher in a useful field. Zhang Shiheng will continue his mathematical pursuits at Purdue University, to earn his Ph.D. in their Department of Mathematics.

He has made many achievements in mathematics in his four years at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), even though it was not a field he did not originally connect with. It took him time to find a direction that he enjoyed, and it was the influence of advanced mathematics Associate Professor Wang Rong that guided him down this path.

Professor Wang and Zhang Shiheng regularly talked after classes, which encouraged Professor Wang to recommend mathematical analysis to Zhang Shiheng. It was this recommendation that saw Zhang Shiheng open the door to a new direction.

The excellent faculty members in the Department of Mathematics at SUSTech have been crucial in developing Zhang Shiheng into the researcher he is today. Zhang Shiheng has been influenced by people like Professor He Bingsheng and his work in algorithmic optimization. “Learning maths has made me happy, helped me making many interesting friends and taught me knowledge that I didn’t have before.”

Zhang Shiheng freely admits that focusing on mathematical analysis was not easy. He struggled at first, having to work from a score of 70/120 in his first test, forcing him to work harder and proving to himself that his efforts were worthwhile, earning a near perfect score in his next exam.

His mathematical studies have seen him develop deep friendships with the other students of his academic tutor Yang Jiang. Zhang Shiheng noted with a smile: “When we were all working on our graduation dissertations, the four of us would catch up privately to discuss our work. That gave us a chance to help each other with our individual challenges. Because we were learning and making progress together, we all did well.”

He remains very modest, despite his success, and part of that comes from the firm bonds of friendship he has developed over his time at SUSTech. He firmly believes in the ability of all of his colleagues at SUSTech, saying that “every student in the Department of Mathematics is excellent has something worth learning from.” He also reads a lot from a wide range of disciplines, further enhancing his knowledge.

While supporting his friends, Zhang Shiheng also appreciated his subject matter even further. “We all love mathematics and encouraged each other. We know that we are not going to make a fortune studying mathematics, but as long as universities provide the necessary conditions for us to study what we want, we will be happy.”

It is clear that Zhang Shiheng has been thinking about his future. By pursuing a PhD, he has opted to go deeper into the fundamentals of mathematics. While there will be more challenges, it provides more opportunities for growth and enrichment. He said: “You have to get answers from others, and then find it in your heart. In the long run, you will become stronger, less frustrated and healthier. There are going to be many twists and turns in one’s life, so you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced faculty members and then teach younger students.”

Zhang Shiheng found that communication was the key to his successful academic development. “Everyone I spoke to was able to help me learn. While no one person is good at everything, everyone is good at one individual thing. Because of that, everyone can learn from everyone else.”

In his short years at SUSTech, Zhang Shiheng did not realize how much of an impact SUSTech would have on him. SUSTech gave him the second chance he needed. It led to him finding the direction he needed for the world of mathematics. He has stood together with his classmates, whether it was holding classes, assisting teachers in freshman classes or running promotional sessions. Zhang Shiheng has become calmer, more refined and easy going as his studies have been supplemented by additional literature and his other hobbies.

We can only be certain that Zhang Shiheng will make his own path in mathematics, showing his steadfastness and firmness.

2019, 08-09
By Chris Edwards

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

Proofread ByXia Yingying

Photo BySupplied, Qiu Yan

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