COAA 2011 Distinguished Scholar Symposium

May 21, 2011

Several dozen colleagues and friends of COAA enjoyed immensely the lecture by Professor Zou, who shared her personal stories, dreams, experiences, research and academic achievements.Professor Liang talked about his work in China as a recipient of the 'One-Thousand-Talents Program' its roles and responsibility, science scope and challenges.

The symposium was a great success. Everyone was very proud of and inspired by the speakers for their research excellence and their patriotic compassion for serving our motherland. Profs. Zou and Liang COAA's honorary member awards from Dr. Weng. The symposium fostered many exciting discussions and ideas for collaboration that will serve COAA's core mission.

A Perfect Life and A Perfect Career

Prof. Xiaolei Zou is a Named Professor, J. Charney, of Florida State University, an AMS Fellow, and recipient of several prestigious awards from both China and the US. She is not only well known for her outstanding academic achievements in the fields of data assimilation and numerical weather prediction, but also much admired by her friends and colleagues for raising two exceptional children. As one of the earliest scholars who came to the USA after China's open policy began, Prof. Zou encountered and overcomed many personal and professional difficulties. What was the secret to her success?

At COAA's first distinguished scholar symposium, Prof. Zou passionately shared stories of her family, childhood, college, advisors, friends, students and children. She showed many pictures marking her growth from a little girl born into a typical Chinese intellectual family to an accomplished scholar of international fame. Her extraordinary characters, wisdom and persistence, were made evident as she was speaking. Prof. Zou told stories about her grandfather, who taught her what was benevolence, and stories about her parents and siblings from whom she inherited high intelligence, good character and strong discipline. She shared fond memories of attending the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, and of the classmates, professors and MS and PhD advisors who influenced her life and shaped her earlier career. She even shared motherhood tips about raising two highly talented, disciplined and well-rounded children. Even though switching her field of study from mathematics to meteorology was not her original idea when entering the graduate program and she loves math, she embraced every obstacle and challenge with passion and determination until one day she loves meteorology and finds the beauty of it. Her personal and professional successes seem to be a perfect combination of passion, perseverance, intellectual capability, and a loving and caring personality.

Prof. Zou also reported her recent involvement in Chinese Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and climate initiatives. As recipient of China's 'One Thousand Talents Program' through her alma mater Nanjing University of Information and Technology (formerly Nanjing Institute of Meteorology), and Science Director of China Meteorological Administration (CMA) NWP Center, Prof. Zou is working closely with scientists in China to improve numerical weather forecasting skills and to educate the next generation. These are very challenging tasks that require a tremendous amount of time and effort. What is her motivation for doing this? Her answer was very simple and touching: 'It comes from the hometown complex, national complex and alma mater complex. China provided me with all the education I needed to succeed. I have served US for more than twenty years and it's time for me to serve China a little.'

A Mission Too Heavy to Walk Away

Prof. Shunlin Liang was one of the earliest scholars recruited into China's 'One Thousand Talents Program'. After obtaining most of his education in China and working in the cutting edges of remote sensing in the US for nearly twenty years, Prof. Liang found a way to contribute back to China. The same motivation has propelled many Chinese scholars to go back and seek opportunities to serve their country.

Invited to speak at COAA's first distinguish scholar symposium, Prof. Liang briefed COAA colleagues on China's key national '863' project he is leading, the 'Global land surface characterization product development and applications' with total funding of 40M Yuan. This project has the ambitious goal of establishing China's own series of products of global land surface parameters, such as global leaf area index, surface albedo, emissivity, surface longwave and shortwave radiation, and photosynthetic active radiation. This work will raise China's current remote sensing capabilities from qualitative to quantitative.

Prof. Liang gave an excellent lecture on remote sensing of Earth's surface energy budget and many other surface parameters, ranging from algorithm development to various practical applications. Prof. Liang is greatly concerned about climate and environmental change and subsequent shortages of natural resources in China. He mentioned the ongoing scientific debate on whether forestation of the great Northwest desert region is beneficial to the preservation of underground water levels. He talked about the dryness of the Yellow River and the severe water shortage in Northern China. These problems affect the lives of millions of people. He hopes his research will contribute to the development of quantitative remote sensing capabilities in China and help to monitor environmental change in China and around the globe.

See more pictures(DSS 2011)