Lunar New Year Report: Annual Research Review – Going from strength to strength
Chris Edwards | 02/09/2020

Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) continued to show its progress in innovative scientific research in 2019. SUSTech has developed its research platforms and its collaborations with industry to work towards impacting society.

Scientific research progresses substantially

SUSTech scholars continue to publish papers in high-impact journals across the globe, showing that SUSTech is an excellent institution in which to conduct world-class scientific research.

In 2019, 2344 papers were published in journals, and 119 scholarly articles were discussed in top conferences. SUSTech’s rank in the Nature Index China has continued to rise, with its fractional count ranking 22nd in the nation. SUSTech’s engineering discipline has entered the top 1% of Clarivate’s Essential Science Indicators (ESI), joining chemistry and materials science in the global ranks.

Department of Physics Associate Professor Zhang Liyuan was part of a multi-institutional team that proved the existence of the 3D Quantum Hall effect through experimentation. Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Professor Liang Yongye worked with an international group to convert carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals. Department of Chemistry Professor Tian Ruijun was part of a long-term project to find new treatment pathways for pancreatic cancer.

SUSTech undergraduate students published papers as part of their academic research. One prime example is the work of Class of 2020 student Hu Qikun, who has published 14 papers in top journals, of which 4 have been selected as cover articles.

When it comes to university rankings, SUSTech remains at or near the top of the pile. Times Higher Education (THE) released its World University Rankings 2020, with SUSTech remaining in the top ten in mainland China, ranking equal ninth in mainland China and between 301st and 350th in the world. Nature Index posted its Young Universities 2019 supplement, ranking young universities that are 50 years old or less. In that list, SUSTech was ranked 7th in the world. SUSTech has been ranked the 2nd best rising young university, by Nature Index Young Universities 2019.

SUSTech acknowledged for top research standards

Throughout 2019, SUSTech received significant funding and approvals for major scientific research projects that support national, provincial, and municipal development.

In 2019, SUSTech received approval for 400 projects at all levels, representing a 32% increase on last year. SUSTech was approved for over 30% of its National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) projects it applied for, representing a record high for SUSTech and placing SUSTech first among universities in Guangdong Province that received approval for more than one hundred projects.

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) also approved over 40% of projects for which SUSTech applied. One such project is the “Synthetic Biology” key project of the National Key R&D Program being undertaken by SUSTech that seeks to use synthetic DNA for data storage. SUSTech Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) Head Professor Jiang Xingyu was selected as the project leader and chief scientist. It is the first time SUSTech has been approved for a key project of the National Key R&D Program.

SUSTech scholars and faculty members received many awards throughout 2019. School of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Professor Liu Junguo was selected as one of the recipients of the 15th Science and Technology Award for Chinese Youth. Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Professor Hisao Ishibuchi received the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Computational Intelligence Society (IEEE CIS) Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award. SUSTech University Council Vice Chairperson Li Fengliang was announced as a recipient of the Excellent Social Scientists award for 2019. Two faculty members won the first Xplorer Prizes, while the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Associate Professor Li Guixin received the 2019 Outstanding Young Scholars Awards from the Qiu Shi Science and Technologies Foundation. Two Associate Professors won the Shenzhen Youth Science and Technology Awards.

University research platforms expand

The variety of scientific research platforms across SUSTech continue to develop, with the construction of 47 different research platforms approved throughout 2019. The research platforms under development include the inaugural Ministry of Education (MoE) Engineering Research Center and our maiden Greater Bay Area Joint Laboratory. SUSTech was also approved for three Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratories and a wide range of other projects.

SUSTech is working with Futian District to build the International Center for Quantum Research for Shenzhen, while also collaborating with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) on other significant development projects.

Closer to home, February saw the launch of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) International Center for Mathematics. The ceremony attracted luminaries as the Fields Medal Winner and University of California San Diego (UCSD) Professor Efim Zelmanov and Shenzhen Vice Mayor Wang Lixin. The Center is one of ten Nobel Laureate laboratories funded by the Shenzhen Municipal Government. It supports pure, applied, and computational mathematics across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and in other parts of southern China, as well as encouraging interdisciplinary research and applications of mathematics in a variety of different fields. Their primary mission is to solve major scientific problems in an all-out effort to serve China’s strategic needs.

In November, member of the French Academy of Sciences, the French National Academy of EngineeringAcademia Europea, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering (USA) Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Distinguished Professor Joseph Sifakis unveiled the Research Institute of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (RITAS). The Sifakis Research Institute of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (RITAS) seeks to cover cutting-edge fields such as computational intelligence, trusted software, autonomous driving, smart cities, and intelligent healthcare. Embedded with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), it will develop a new generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications while collaborating with the Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Computational Intelligence. The resultant research will ultimately contribute to the cultivation of high-end scientific and technological talent, Shenzhen’s technical improvement, and the dual development of Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area.

Industry-university research collaboration highlights

SUSTech has long been committed to industry-university research partnerships, as part of the historical and unprecedented opportunities that are arising from the industrial transformation of the Greater Bay Area and the pioneering demonstration zone of Shenzhen. These collaborative arrangements target strategic emerging and future industries to promote local and regional innovation through the transformation of scientific & technological achievements.

More than 130 companies formed significant cooperative arrangements with SUSTech in 2019, up more than 60% compared with 2018, with 13 joint laboratories established. SUSTech staff and students continue to innovate and develop new products, with the Technology Transfer Center applying for 476 patents (a 16% increase), with more than 80% of those patents being for inventions. SUSTech has also invested in 16 companies in 2019, supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of many in the process.

SUSTech was recognized at the beginning of 2019 for its industry-university research cooperation, and its partnerships continue to reflect our technologically advanced solutions when they were displayed at the 21st China Hi-Tech Fair in November. In December, MSE Associate Professor Sun Dazhi received an industry-university research cooperation innovation award at the China Industry-University Research Cooperation Promotion Awards. He received the award from his project titled “Development and Application of Advanced Nano-lubricating and Anti-wear Materials.”

2020 will see SUSTech continue to strive towards its goal of becoming a world-class research university rooted in China under its philosophical pillars of “research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.” Both the pioneering demonstration zone of Shenzhen and the industrial transformation of the Greater Bay Area will provide unique opportunities for SUSTech to serve the development of an international city, a modern region, and an innovative country.

2020, 02-09
By Chris Edwards

From the Series

Chinese New Year Special Report

Proofread ByXia Yingying

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