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In the Focus

Excellent Residential College Tutor: 2018 Changjiang Scholar Liu Qingsong

Sep 12, 2018 Latest News

In June 2018, Department of Ocean Science and Engineering Professor Liu Qingsong was awarded the Changjiang Scholars Award, becoming the first Changjiang Scholar trained by Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech). We went to interview him to see his numerous honors and how his scientific research is going further and further.


"My Responsibility Always Grows."

When he heard the news, Professor Liu Qingsong was walking around campus with his wife. He shared the news with his leaders and colleagues to share in his joy. Professor Liu Qingsong has been working for decades on his scientific research and has won many important awards. It is no surprise that he won this award.

On winning this honor, Professor Liu Qingsong said calmly that "In the future, I will always ask for progress and innovation. Scientific research has been moving forward at a great rate, and my responsibility is always growing, so I hope to make further contributions in this area." Professor Liu Qingsong believes that the qualities that must be possessed are perseverance, determination, emotional intelligence, cooperation, and optimism.

In Professor Liu Qingsong’s view, there are two types of scientists when it comes to scientific research. There are a few talented scientists like Newton and Einstein, and there are others that are on a long road of scientific research. He placed himself firmly in the second category. Professor Liu believes that the roads to scientific achievement through research is not about speed or intelligence, but the willingness to constantly overcoming challenges and persist through to the end.

Comparative Study of Sea Map

Professor Liu Qingsong’s research field is geology and oceanography. He said that society needs people to develop science and technology to create social wealth. Society also needs someone to sink their minds into making further scientific discoveries and improving social thinking.

Professor Liu Qingsong is currently studying “The Evolution of Asian Dust and Westerly Winds.” The vast desert inside Asia has its dust and silt blown into the northern Pacific Ocean by strong westerly winds. This silt and dust are rich in nutrients, which affects the marine ecology, having a profound impact on the marine climate and ecology. The main purpose of his research is to track the history of sandstorms and determine how they evolve, in order to develop a predictive model for the future.


 “Deeply Rooted in This Land.”

Professor Liu Qingsong was born in Zhuozhou, Hebei Province. His mother is a primary school teacher, who attached great importance to family education. She has always been realistic about his grades and was more concerned about cultivating his interest in learning. He feels that this allowed him to develop freely according to his own interests and ambitions. As a result, Professor Liu Qingsong had a relaxed learning environment from a very young age. He smiled and said, "In those days, you didn't have to be forced to take classes and tutoring classes. Students developed at their own rates and made their own achievements. Many people are like this." This has had a far-reaching impact on his later training and teaching of students.

In 1989, he was admitted to China University of Geosciences and chose to apply the Department of Geophysics. With his hard work, he was the only one in the class to receive a research grant. Once he completed his graduate studies, he opted to broad for his continued academic work. Professor Liu Qingsong was strict with himself, often studying until midnight. Through his love and dedication, he won the prestigious European Union Marie Curie Scholarship and obtained a lecturer position at the British National Marine Center. Having now studied in both the United States and the United Kingdom for 8 years, many scientific research institutions have offered him further opportunities for research.

When we asked Professor Liu Qingsong if he wanted to stay abroad, Professor Liu said that he was only pursuing scientific research ideas. He was born and raised in mainland China, and his outlook on life and values have been deeply rooted here. He deeply agrees with the phrase "science has no borders, scientists have national boundaries," and never thought of missing the crucial moment of the rise of China. He pointed out that only when you study in China, will you be trained in China. In Professor Liu Qingsong’s view, his greatest overseas research achievement is learning to look at problems from different angles and bringing that perspective back to China, thus opening up new scientific research patterns.

At the end of 2007, he returned to China to study and teach at the Chinese Academy of Sciences under their "Hundred Talents Program." This job lasted nearly ten years. SUSTech's emerging strength, relaxed academic research atmosphere, and international strategic positioning attracted him. In August 2016, he came to Shenzhen, at the forefront of China's reform and opening up, and joined the Department of Ocean Science and Engineering.

In this excellent department, he believes that he is proudest of always working and studying with a good team of teachers. It’s challenging to be a good group in a good group, but it’s also more motivating.


"This Is My Most Valued Honor."

On Teachers Day 2017, Professor Liu Qingsong won the title of “Excellent Residential College Tutor” by SUSTech. When he delivered his speech, he said “I was rated as an excellent tutor. This is one of the most important honors I have, not any of the other ones."

In 2017, Professor Liu Qingsong was named "Excellent College Tutor."

Since returning to China, Professor Liu Qingsong has been deeply loved by students and has won the Zhu Li Yuehua Outstanding Teacher Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "I am very concerned about the personal growth of students, but I am very strict in about their study and research."

He is deeply aware of the importance of the role of the instructor as part of a student’s growth. Academician Zhu Rixiang, his doctoral supervisor in China, was very rigorous in his studies and challenging in selecting subjects. Such an attitude to scientific research was very influential, so to do research, we must choose the most challenging cutting-edge issues. During his study abroad, Professor Subir Banerjee from the United States and Professor Andrew Roberts from the United Kingdom were both very approachable and helpful. Their influence taught him the importance of developing in your own time, in conjunction with his mother’s educational style at home. Now he is trying to pass on these ideas to his students.

"Every individual is different; so their development path is different. The tutor must take the initiative to guide the student to choose their own direction based on their own requirements. The development is sometimes not set and should be adjusted according to how things changes. This flexibility is very important for the students." For each student's scientific research, he believes that they must first have a solid foundation and to learn to be grounded. They must find a general guide, in order to have the willingness and determination to teach them and define their own direction, with the help of their mentors. It is on this basis that he believes that a student’s learning attitude determine the difference between individual students.

Before interviewing Professor Liu Qingsong's materials before the interview, he reflected on a story about one of his students.

When Professor Liu Qingsong’s postdoc was writing a grant application, the method was very innovative.

In the end, the postdoctoral asked: "Prof. Liu, we have no other data to compare in the future. How can we convince others?"

Professor Liu Qingsong replied: "It is possible to reverse their thinking. Because of our innovation, it is the way that others have not taken. By reversing their thinking, our data will be the basis of comparison of others in the future. We have created a new method that, if successful, will be the source of a lot of work in the future, and others may follow up. A single data set does not convince others, so others need to duplicate it. Science needs others to make sure that there is global uniformity. However, the first thing to consider now is if the principle is sound? Does the method flow correctly? Is the reasoning accurate? So, the title of the grant application should be “The feasibility study of methods."

The student asked again: "A title like that is unlikely to pass the review process. If it does not pass, then won’t it have been a waste of time?"

Professor Liu Qingsong replied: "There is a famous saying that people should be born to die every day in order to feel today’s happiness. Doing the same thing, with the courage to accept failure, makes people stronger and happier, as it makes them do things better. At present, the fund does not have a lot of money, and most applicants are not immediately rewarded. You must be convinced that innovative thinking can and will infect people, as it dares to throw their thoughts out and questions the judges. There will finally be sparks."

The rapid development of society with science and technology makes everything now and in the future difficult to predict. He firmly believes that the future of SUSTech’s Ocean Magnetics Center must remain young and energetic. At the speed of modern scientific development, he believes that even if the next ten years are unpredictable, the most important thing is to stay in the top tier and remain an advanced institution.

Before and after the interview, many new papers of his research group have been accepted by top international journals, including two in PNAS and Nature News.


Professor Liu Qingsong Sent a Message to SUSTech Students

This is the best era. It is the most in-depth period of social science and cultural inquiry. SUSTech has caught up with the best universities and is the newest university. Cherish the present, lay a good foundation, and the future cannot be limited.

Interview: Miao Xuening, Tong Xiaojin

Text: Miao Xuening

Translated and Adapted: Chris Edwards

Proofread: Xia Yingying

Photo: Wang Kaiqiang, SUSTEF

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