Academic wins top US position after CAS snub

Updated: 2013-05-02 14:58

By Zhao Yinan (

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The election of a Chinese foreign associate to a leading US academy has sparked heated debate after he failed to make it into the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Shi Yigong, professor and dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University, was elected to be one of the 21 foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences, based in the United States.

His election was in recognition of his "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research", according to the academy's website on Tuesday.

The news has sparked controversy in China as Shi, who left Johns Hopkins University and joined Tsinghua in 2008, failed to be enrolled by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011.

This might be related to his explicit criticism of China's research culture and its rampant distribution of research funds, Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

In an article published in 2010, which Shi co-authored with Rao Yi, professor and dean of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University, the 46-year-old scientist argued that although government research funds in China have been growing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent, the rampant problems in research funding has somehow slowed down the country's potential pace of innovation.

Shi said he returned to China not for membership at the CAS, but to educate people, Beijing News reported.