On May 28, fifty young academics were awarded Outstanding Young Scientist Project Funding from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Xianfeng Li and Chunlei Xiao of DICP were among this select group. The CAS project, which was initiated in this year, aims to provide research funding to younger scientists under 35 years old. Recipients can receive 1.2 to 2.4 million RMB (~200 to 400 USD) within 3 years.
We had the opportunity to interview these two excellent young scientists to learn more about them and get some ideas about their secrets of success.
Xianfeng Li is now the team leader of 1702 research laboratory at DICP. He specializes in key materials and technologies for flow batteries. In addition to the Outstanding Young Scientist award, he has also been honored by being named a Dalian Municipal Outstanding Young Talent in Science and Technology, a city-wide award. With Dalian being a city of 7 million people and containing a number of universities, this is an impressive achievement.
When talking about his research, Prof. Li is passionate to tell us what he enjoys thinking about and how he makes his ideas come to fruition. Although he returned to China from overseas less than five years ago, he has already achieved a number of impressive achievements in organic membrane materials and energy storage. So far in his career, he has published many excellent papers, with several receiving a lot of attention in the research community.
In his role as a doctoral supervisor, Xianfeng Li has some clear opinions. He would like his students to make full and effective use of their time in graduate school and published articles as soon as possible once they had finished a phase of the work. He doesn’t want to put too much burden on his students, but at the same time he encourages them to challenge themselves in their research.
When being asked why he became a scientist and how achieved so much success, he said frankly that he had never thought himself to be a scientist until graduated from college. A key factor that nudged onto the path of scientific research was the good academic atmosphere in Jilin University. He also was fortunate to find an excellent, far-sighted supervisor. Those two influences made him realize what he wanted to be in the future – a research scientist.
Prof. Xiao, the other recipient, works in group XX with Xueming Yang. When meeting with Prof. Xiao, he exudes an infectious happiness. Anyone he talks with can’t help but notice his big smile. He says he just want to be a simple man, and since life is short, he doesn’t like to waste much time worrying about things. Except for his mother’s death that was very hard for him, he doesn’t see any reason to feel sad. He believes that we all will inevitably encounter difficult challenges, so the best approach is to minimize them and keep a good state of mind.
He received his doctoral degree with Xueming Yang. His research remains focused on molecular reaction dynamics. While very happy-go-lucky, Prof. Xiao is a very serious and accomplished scientist, with three articles already published in the Science. When being asked to share his secrets to success, he was very modest and credited all his success to his supervisor and good luck. Perhaps luck does really work, but it is clear that Prof. Xiao’s hard work and dedication must also play a significant role in his achievements.
As a member of professor Yang’s group, Prof. Xiao has internalized the group’s goal of being an international leader in their field. From speaking with him, he obviously values teamwork. He recalled Professor Yang saying, “If you want to get the best data, you should first have the most advanced equipment.” Now, Prof. Xiao is planning to use the funding to improve their detection instrumentation and trying his best optimize detection techniques. One final tip for success provided was that success comes from, “more practice, more thinking.”
It’s not hard to see that these outstanding young scientists share some things in common; for example, hard work, a passion for scientific research, and a good attitude toward life. It is clear that these outstanding young researchers have unique combinations of talent and dedication that will ensure them continued success in the future.