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Chinese PhD students win awards, stay focused

By Na Li in Toronto | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-03-30 10:57

Chinese PhD students in Canada, who were recently honored by the Chinese government, are a humble group, singularly focused on their fields.

Geoffrey Ozin, the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in materials chemistry at the University of Toronto (U of T), considered by many to be the father of nanochemistry, said Chinese PhD students "can change the world in the future".

Ozin spoke at the 2016 Chinese Government Awards for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad ceremony hosted by the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto on March 25.

Qian Chenxi, one of Ozin's students, who originally came from Nanjing University, received a US$6,000 scholarship recognizing his outstanding achievements during his PhD studies. He and his senior fellow apprentice, Sun Wei, who received the same award last year, are the pride of their professor.

"When the two students joined my group five years ago with top scholarships at U of T, I decided to change my field into carbon dioxide, where I was looking for an engineering and chemistry solution to utilize CO2," said Ozin, who has worked with Chinese scholars and students since the 1970s.

"This is a field that has grown rapidly, as this is a global problem, and China needs to fix this. In fact, China is one of the most active countries in the world in this field."

Chinese PhD students win awards, stay focused


Qian and Sun have published articles in top journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Chemical Society and Nature Communications.

"I feel honored to be awarded this scholarship for overseas Chinese students. Most importantly, this recognition is from our mother country," Qian said. "I could feel that I'm connected to home, in every sense, closer than ever."

Qin was one of 19 students honored by the Chinese government in Ontario and Manitoba, accounting for nearly 4 percent of the 500 global winners this year. The award recognizes the academic excellence of Chinese overseas students, encourages them to return to China to work or make contributions in various ways.

Yang Fan, another PhD student who studies genetics and molecular biology under her supervisor Frederick Roth, an inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chair in integrative biology, also has had articles published in prominent journals such as Cell, Genome Research and PIOS Computational Biology.

"It is a great honor for me to receive this award, but my greatest reward has always been in doing scientific research on human diseases," Yang said. "I also promise to only get better at my work, to make more progress in my career and more contributions to the whole community in the future."

Yan Wang, a recent PhD graduate of U of T who did research in genomics and ecology, hopes to collaborate with researchers in Canada, the US and China to promote cooperation in the field.

"The PhD study is just the beginning of creating the knowledge; it is still the learning phase," said Jean-Marc Moncalvo, a professor at Royal Ontario Museum, who was Yan Wang's supervisor.

Sun Yu, Canada Research Chair in micro and nano engineering systems at U of T, also encouraged his student Cao Changhong, one of the recipients of the award, to work hard and dedicate himself to science and technology.

(China Daily USA 03/30/2017 page2)

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