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Guangming Daily publishes report of an interview of Prof. Yao Tandong


It helps accomplish my lifetime career --- Prof. Yao Tangdong talking about Outstanding Young Scientists Foundation

Author/reporter: Li Zhiwei      Published on 2004-7-6    From Guangming Daily

(Published simultaneously on NSFC website)


       “The course of glacier is heroic; it belongs to brave people.” Prof. Yao Tandong has deep understanding of this utterance by Academician Shi Yafeng, “Father of China’s Modern Glaciology”, who has been Yao’s instructor. Yao told the journalist that hardships never matter to glacier researchers: “To them, especially the young scientists, to have a platform to put to good use their talents and make scientific innovations is what everybody longs for.”

       Outstanding Young Scientists Foundation offered Yao Tandong such a platform when it was most needful.

       Yao became attached to glacier reserach in 1975, when in his first class in university prof. Shi Yafeng’s introduction to the Gatura Glacier Expedition impressed him deeply. From then on he became fascinated by glaciology.  

       In 1989 Yao returned to China after two years of postdoctoral research in US. Prof. Tompson, who had wanted to detain him with high salaries, was finally convinced by him and accompanied him to China, as his partner in Tibetan Plateau research. 

       “When I was most in want of support, I together with 48 other young scientists became the first recipients of Outstanding Young Scientists Foundation.” Yao signed with emotion, “The money was much too precious and each penny was spent where it was most needful. We purchased equipments that were in urgent need, and constructed a preliminary scientific platform for ice core research.” By dint of this platform, he had presided over more than 20 scientific programs of National 85 and 95 Climbing Projects, National Key Basic Research Programming and CAS key tasks in the following decade, and had won many awards and patents.

       An innovative group that was quite influential in the field of ice core research came into being.

       As he got funds from Outstanding Young Scientists Foundation, the research group on ice core and environment of cold regions headed by Yao had only three scientists and two technicians.

       “Outstanding Young Scientists Foundation was a driving force for the development of ice core research groups, not only because it provided us with funds, but more importantly, it offered us a supportive platform through which we could enhance international cooperation and try to get more funds from the society,” said Yao. 

       In virtue of this opportunity the research group led by Yao made great progress with promoted scientific level and enlarged team.

       Today, the glacier research group has 22 members of distinguished young scientists, among which are prof. Wang Nenglian, director of Office of Cryosphere Research, prof. He Yuanqing, doctor supervisor, prof. Liu Shiyin, recipient of “Western Light”, and prof. Sunjunying, recipient of CAS “Top Ten Women Scientists”. This group of young scientists, who are from various research fields like geography, atmosphere, remote-sensing, geology, chemistry, and computer, have presided over 15 programs sponsored by NSFC, and is presently carrying out 8 programs of NSFC through collaboration. They have become the fresh activists of NSFC programs.

       Yao felt much gratified in retrospection.

       Through many years of endeavor, Yao and his research team has made achievements of international level in research on ice core, global change, glacial variation and environment of cold regions, and has formed their specialties. They have promoted China’s ice core research into a new phase by successfully conducting research on Dunde, Guliya, Pruogangri Ice Cores. They have set up quantitative models for relation between temperature and stable oxygen isotope in precipitation in High Asia, which has rectified the conjecture of western scholars. They have clarified the characteristics of climatic changes on the Tibetan Plateau in the past 100,000 years with high resolution ice core records, and have revealed a set of significant climatic events recorded by the ice cores. They have also revealed the characteristics of climatic changes since Holocene, and the major features of climatic changes in the past 2 ka by resolution of annual fluctuation.

       At present Yao is presiding over a key scientific program of the NSFC project “Environmental and Ecological Sciences of Western China” as the chief scientist of “Matztag Ata Scientific Experimental Research” of MOST.

       Yao felt gratified when looking back. He said, “our nation has supported us even in its most difficult time, and I suppose I can say that we haven’t let her down.”