SUSTech strives to build on discipline construction and scientific research
Zhong YANG | 02/18/2021

The year 2020 witnessed SUSTech’s record-high academic achievements and scientific research output, increasing academic influence, improved discipline layout, and impressive achievements in the publication of papers, scientific research projects, and discipline construction. The University has been promoting the construction of first-class universities with first-class academic achievements and research outputs.

Scientific research projects reach a new high

First-class discipline construction is the cornerstone of a first-class university. SUSTech, with the desire of national development in mind, has been integrating state-of-art technologies into its discipline construction. In 2020, the School of Life Sciences, School of Design, School of Public Health and Emergency Management, Department of Medical Neuroscience, Department of Pharmacology, Department of Human Cell Biology and Genetics, Division of Information System and Management Engineering, and the Department of Biochemistry were added to the existing discipline system. In addition, the National Center for Applied Mathematics Shenzhen was established. It is the first national mathematics center in Shenzhen.

SUSTech provides endless options for its students to explore different academic pursuits. There are eight schools, 28 departments which cover 30 majors. Of those, computer science and technology, and biological sciences have been ranked among the top of Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. Three undergraduate majors rank amongst the top on the national level, three more at the top on the provincial level, and another three majors have been ranked among the global top 1% of ESI.

On December 4, the School of Life Sciences held its opening ceremony in the SUSTech University Center, with Professor Mingjie ZHANG as Dean of the School. Mingjie ZHANG said that an inclusive study environment with great freedom, support, and cooperation would be created to cultivate more talents in the field of life sciences for Shenzhen and China. More than 5 departments will be set up in the School for interdisciplinary research.

On December 20, 2020, the National Center for Applied Mathematics Shenzhen was unveiled in SUSTech, with Acting Vice President of SUSTech Fuquan FANG as the Chairman of the Committee of Directors. The Center’s primary mission is to cooperate with local enterprises to find solutions to common key industrial problems related to Shenzhen’s economic development.

The epidemic in 2020 showed us the importance of public health and emergency management. On November 21, 2020, SUSTech’s School of Public Health and Emergency Management was unveiled, with the goal of building an international first-class school of public health. It also aims to cultivate more talents in the field of public health needed by society.

In the spring of 2020, two new majors for SUSTech’s undergraduate degree program, Clinical Medicine and Big Data Management and Application were approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The approval of Clinical Medicine indicated that Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in running schools marks a crucial step for SUSTech as it develops a world-class medical education and continues to innovate across a wide range of medical partnerships. Big Data Management and Application is the first undergraduate major of the Department of Information Systems and Management Engineering (DISME) within the School of Business. It signifies the further expansion and growth of undergraduate programs at SUSTech.

In 2020, SUSTech made breakthroughs and progress in scientific research, with an increase in the number of total approved projects and research platforms. The approved project number of different programs has set new records.

In 2020, 787 projects at all levels and various types were approved. SUSTech applied for 827 projects from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and 206 were approved. The project funding rate is a dozen percentage points higher than the national average. Two projects of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, four Excellent Young Scientists Fund projects, eleven projects of Key Program, six projects of Research Fund for International Young Scientists received financial support from the NSFC at SUSTech. The approved project number of NSFC reached an all-time high.

SUSTech has performed well in the funding application of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Last year, 71 projects were  submitted, with 29 being approved. Furthermore, the first National Key Research and Development Program for Young Scientists led by SUSTech was approved. The University has successfully applied for a China-Germany cooperation project for the first time. It is a key special project of international scientific and technological cooperation supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The project, titled “Topological State Control and Device Exploration of Low-Dimensional Intrinsic Magnetic Materials,” led by Qihang LIU, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics, was approved as the Young Scientist Project under the National Key R&D Program. It is SUSTech’s first Young Scientist Project and the first approved key project of “Quantum Control and Quantum Information” led by a Shenzhen unit.

In 2020, a total of 34 new platform projects was approved. Key Laboratory of Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies is the first key laboratory supported by the Ministry of Education. The Provincial level platform welcomed new members. The Joint Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics and Engineering Application Driven by Data in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau Area, was approved by the provincial government and became the second Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau joint laboratory at SUSTech. In addition, the Material Genome Large Scientific Device Platform’s estimated budget was officially approved.

SUSTech’s academic research witnesses a bumper harvest

Research carried out by SUSTech’s staff, students, and alumni have made an enormous impact on the world in 2020.

The number of published papers reached a new high of 4240, an increase of 55% from 2019. Among them, SCI and EI included 3748 papers, including 19 papers in top international journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell.

In 2020, the statistics show that SUSTech’s Weighted Fractional Count was 201.54 for the period between 1st October 2019 to 30th September 2020, placing it in 14th position in the Nature Index list of mainland Chinese universities and 52nd in the world. This is a significant improvement with an increase of 49 places in SUSTech’s position since being ranked for the first time in 2015.

SUSTech’s faculty members contributed to the high-quality research output. This includ ed Associate Professor Weishu LIU from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and his research team, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They developed a proof-of-concept wearable device powered by gelatin. This ground-breaking research was published in Science.

Hongwei GUO, Chair Professor from the Department of Biology, led a multinational research effort to improve the understanding of how RNA interference works in conjunction with the stress response. Their research on this matter, as it related to plant RNA, was published in the high impact academic journal Nature.

As a total, SUSTech’s faculty members have published six high-quality papers in Nature and four in Science.

SUSTech hosts over 800 forums in 2020

A prosperous academic culture shapes the environment for the development of research universities. In 2020, SUSTech overcame a series of difficulties among the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The University held more than 800 academic conferences and forums, both online and off-line, which delivered invaluable knowledge to faculty members and students.

Of the 800 plus lectures and forums, nearly 700 were about science and engineering, and over 160 on philosophy, humanities and social sciences. More than 80 academicians hosted speeches and shared their vast array of knowledge and experiences to teachers and students in attendance.

Various first-class academic seminars and forums were held in SUSTech. Scholars and experts in different fields held in-depth discussions to promote new development in related disciplines.

SUSTech hosted some important forums such as the Global Scientist Interdisciplinary Online Forum, Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies Forum, The Fifth Overseas Chinese Orthopedics Summit Forum, and The 11th National Conference on Fluid Mechanics, amongst others.

Holding high-level lectures is a routine of SUSTech’s campus life, represented by SUSTech Lecture Series. Famous academicians including Zihe RAO, Chi WANG, Quanshui ZHENG, DeLong, Director of the National Art Museum Weishan WU, and well-known violinist Siqing LU came to SUSTech with cutting-edge academic speeches and new ideas.

The year 2021 marks the beginning of the second decade for SUSTech. The University will continue to stay true to its motto, “Research, Innovation, Entrepreneurship” to cultivate more innovative talents and build an innovation platform for the country.    

2021, 02-18
By Zhong YANG

From the Series

Proofread ByAdrian Cremin, Yingying XIA

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