Vice President Zhang Xiaohong: Surpassing Developed Countries by Accumulating Strengths

When scanning the resume of vice president Zhang Xiaohong, also a representative in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, tons of titles and honors can be found, such as "Chief scientist of 'Program 973'", "Term Professor of the 'Changjiang Scholars Program'", and "Winner of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars"…


"It's a great privilege to have been elected as a representative in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China; I feel so pleased and also very proud.", said Zhang Xiaohong. In the hundred-year-old ancient bell tower in Taicizhuang Campus of Soochow University, the reporter met with the serious but genial scholar for the first time. Judging from his words above, it can be inferred that he was quite thrilled about the success in being selected as a reprehensive and his sense of responsibility as a representative. "I have prepared some proposals about the innovation of science and technology and the talent cultivation in higher institutions", Zhang added, "I hope I can provide more useful suggestions for the development of the country". Zhang also admitted that all these ideas are originated from his own working experiences and his considerations on the current situation of the country.


In 2014, Zhang was appointed as a Term Professor of Soochow University. After that, he has served the university as a doctor supervisor at the Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials, as the President Assistant, and as the Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges. In July 2017, he was appointed as the Vice President of Soochow University.


Focusing on the studies in organic optoelectronic materials, Zhang has taken this research as the dream in his life of scientific exploration. As a front-line researcher, he has carried out many fundamental researches together with his team, and made a lot of breakthroughs during the process. He has proposed a new molecular design strategy of the efficient blue OLED materials, and provided an important scientific evidence foe the design of efficient OLED materials by revealing the mechanism of realizing efficient blue and white OLED elements based on the system of related materials. Besides, he has also proposed a new creative universality strategy of controlling the growth and orientation of one-dimensional organic single-crystal micro-nano structure and related pattern preparation, and consolidated a scientific foundation for the realization of the simple construction of new efficient photoelectric conversion devices with high mobility organic single-crystal materials by revealing the mechanism concerning the growth and orientation of one-dimensional organic single-crystal micro-nano structure and its pattern configuration. Consequently, he was awarded with the Second Prize of the National Natural Science Awards. Altogether, he has held over 20 national-level research projects under "Program 973", "863 Program" and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. In addition, he has applied for over 40 patents in China and the U.S., reported over 40 academic papers at international conferences, written two international monographs, and published over 300 research papers in famous international journals like Nature Communications and Advanced Materials.


In the past ten years or so, China has expanded the investments in science, technology and education, and the level of scientific researches in China has been improving steadily. As a researcher and an administrator in a higher education institution, though content the progresses brought by the reforms and development of the country, Zhang keeps thinking further about the cause of scientific innovation. "Judging from the situations in the new era, scientific innovation does promote the development of society and the transformation and upgrading of industries." When mentioning the word of "surpassing", Zhang claims emotionally, "in the field of scientific innovation, we used to be busy in chasing the steps of development countries. Now, it's time to surpass them. Meanwhile, if we want to surpass these competitors successfully, we shall make full use of scientific innovation and consider it the engine of all our causes".


In term of the methods to achieve scientific innovations, Zhan also has his own opinions. "We should spare no effort to better basic researches and original innovations, especially those in key areas and fields.", said Zhang Xiaohong. And he believes that these basic researches and original innovation could doubtlessly be used as the foundation of some great creations with leading effects and immeasurable value.


Currently, the rapid development of high-tech industries like artificial intelligence, big date, new energies and precision medicine, is influencing not only the growth of society and economy, but also the lifestyle of every single person. "The development track of science and technology always goes in a wavy manner." Taking the artificial intelligence as an example, Zhang claimed that researches have been working on it in the past 10 years. However, thanks to the appearance of many bottlenecks in science and technology, the researches about AI soon fell into the lowest point. In recent years, the innovation and breakthrough of information and internet technology has pushed the development of artificial intelligence to a climax. "The emphases on basic researches and original innovation actually facilitate future studies by preserving innovative resources and providing technological supports for the breakthrough of bottlenecks.", Zhang added.


At the Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials, Zhang has his own research team. As a leader valuing talents and talent cultivation, he pays special attention to the cultivation of students' team work spirits and their coordination competences during the process of scientific researches. "Working in a higher institution, we should not only focus on scientific researches, but also emphasize the cultivation of innovative talents. Talents constitute the basis of innovation and we should introduce more senior talents with international-level research capacity", Zhang noted. It is also suggested by Zhang that China should implement a much opener talent policy, and attract as many top-level human resources as we can. He emphasized that it is impossible to have important scientific innovation achievements through purchasing while it is only through conducting own research by ourselves and establishing research teams by ourselves that those real important technologies can be developed. "It is a long journey to make scientifically innovative achievements; we cannot accomplish all our objectives at one stroke. In this case, researchers should learn to endure all those tedious tasks, and shall not be anxious for success". Throughout the years after starting the career in education, Zhang has advised over 90 postdoctoral researchers, PhD candidates and Master's students. Many of the of postdoctoral researchers are now working with funds from various national-level and provincial-level foundations for scientific researches, and most of the PhDs are serving as professors and associate professors in famous universities at home and abroad; more than 20 of the masters' students have won honors like the "National Scholarship".


Given that the innovation of industrial technologies can be conducted in many ways, Zhang believes that the integration of industries, studies and researches should not be considered as the only method. "If the subject and mechanism of the integration aforementioned cannot be defined clearly, it will lead to a low output of related industrial and technological achievements. Meanwhile, the energy put to the very integration by those teachers in higher institutions would definitely influence the quality of talent cultivation", Zhang remarked. Though we have witnessed some achievements in recent years during the process of integration, we could still find out the problem incurred easily. As we continue to explore a relatively perfect integration mode of industries, studies and researches, we should also think about a much more effective way for obtaining the achievements in industrial technology innovation.