Professor Rao Yi , former Dean of the School of Life Sciences, Peking University, spoke about “China Science & China Youth” at the Mingde Lecture Hall on the Yanqi Lake Campus on November 17. The lecture was chaired by Prof. Hu Yaowu of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, UCAS.
Prof. Rao, a distinguished biologist, is also an expert on the history of science in China. He remarked that he was happy to know that students from various disciplines attended his lecture joking that “This indicates that I’m a person with some charisma”.
Starting with pioneering geneticist Gregor Mendel’s pea experiments, Prof. Rao explained the hardships that science in China underwent since the Opium War. He also elaborated the establishment and development of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Using Prof. Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice research between 1964 and 1974 and Prof. Zhang Tingdong’s 1973 finding that arsenic treats leukemia, as examples, Prof. Rao said persistence and dedication resulted in great scientific achievements.
When China was less developed, progress in science was primarily made through persistence and dedication. Now that China is stronger and more developed, science lacks adequate persistence and dedication and thus China lacks original research. This is a consequence of society’s love of money and power, he said.
Only after science develops to a certain level does it support and facilitate national economic growth. Prof. Rao urged all of the students to work harder to raise China’s science to a more advanced level.
During the Q&A session, Prof. Rao said that applied research, which concentrates on practical and effective scientific research results, is more difficult than basic science. Although researchers’ breakthroughs might affect China’s policymaking, it is national strategic demand which guide’s China's scientific research, he added.