This scientific ‘power couple’ has one of the largest publishing networks in chemistry
How a supervisor-student pair forged a lasting collaboration.
18 August 2020
Nanoscientists Chen Chen (left) and Li Yadong have worked together on nanomaterials for over a decade.
The key to a productive collaboration, says Chinese nanoscientist, Li Yadong, is understanding the unique perspective of your students, and finding the right opportunities to work with them throughout their career.
Head of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at Tsinghua University in China, Li has been collaborating with his colleague and former student, Chen Chen, for more than a decade. Today, they are internationally renowned for their research in nanomaterials.
Li and Chen started working together in 2006 when Chen was a PhD student. In 2015, after spending three years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States, Chen returned to Tsinghua, where he accepted an associate professor position in the Department of Chemistry.
In 2019, Chen received a prestigious Natural Science Foundation of China grant for distinguished young scientists to continue his research into the design and mechanisms of nano-catalysis – the use of nanoparticles to catalyze reactions. Awarded to high-performing scientists under 45 years old, the NSFC hands out 300 such grants each year.
Li does not hide how proud he is of Chen’s early success as a young researcher.
“My principle is to let students test new areas and explore new expertise. After three years’ work at the world’s top lab, his vision has been greatly broadened, enabling us to expand to broader collaboration.”
Between 2006 and 2019, Li and Chen co-authored 99 papers, including 54 chemistry articles in high-quality journals tracked by Nature Index, including Nature Communications, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
They have cultivated one of the largest publishing networks in chemistry in Nature Index journals, and are a leading scientific duo in the field.