Inside View: Integrating Scientific Research and Education

Nature 545 (25 May 2017)
Published online 24 May 2017

A conversation with DING ZHONGLI, Ph.D., President of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) was established in 1978 as the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), with the approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education. It is a unique higher education institution focusing on graduate education and dedicated to integrating scientific research and education. Ding Zhongli, a geoscience expert with a long-term career at CAS and who leads the UCAS, outlines their plans to leverage the abundant research resources of CAS to develop a world-class research university.

What makes UCAS stand out among the 2,300-plus Chinese universities?

UCAS is administered by CAS, China’s scientific think tank and the largest academic institution. It is the only Chinese university that has clearly identified the integration of scientific research and education as the principle for running the school in its bylaws. As the educational arm of CAS, the university is highly integrated with various institutes of CAS in terms of administration systems, faculty teams, training systems and scientific research. The integration of science and education defines the core value of the university and is the unique charm that makes it stand out.

UCAS is China’s largest graduate education institution, and probably also has the largest graduate student body in the world. We are looking forward to capitalizing on the rich resources of top-notch scientists at CAS to train high level researchers via research practice. By doing so, we want to meet the national strategic needs of innovation-driven development.

Ding Zhongli, Ph.D.
President of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

As the university president, what are your plans for UCAS?

We should be forward looking when planning for the development of a university. In recent years, we have established several institutes at UCAS that integrate science and education, each with grand strategic goals. A recent example is the School of Future Technology established at UCAS in 2016, China’s first of its kind. It aims to explore and develop revolutionary technologies geared towards the future that can reshape human life, industrial production, consumption models and even global economies. In the past, China had generally been a follower in technology development. We are now determined to make world-leading scientific discoveries to turn China into a world leader. To achieve this, it is important to foster talents that can address cutting edge scientific issues. Exploration of future technologies, such as those for quantum computers, gene therapy, gene editing, precision medicine and new materials are full of unknowns, which requires the dedication of talented researchers. We plan to foster talents in this vein.

What qualities do you want your students to develop?

I hope that graduates of UCAS will become pillars of the society with innovative and entrepreneurial spirits. I value the improvement of students’ comprehensive qualities, including communication skills and social service capabilities.

The integration of science and education defines the core value of the university.

To this end, I always encourage our graduate students to take some time for education in arts and humanities, as well as physical education. In line with our objective of fostering talents for the future, we started recruiting undergraduates in 2014, which is also an important step in the talent development strategies of CAS. For undergraduates, my expectation is that they will be equipped with a solid scientific basis, a broad international vision, excellent comprehensive qualities and a rich humanistic spirit, so that they will grow into leaders who are never hesitant to pursue their dreams and to devote themselves to science and technology.

How do you define a world-class university?

Many Chinese universities are seeking to become world-class now. In my mind, there are no set standards for the so called world-class universities but the only way to judge it is to ensure that all students want to join the university. Generally, to run a good university, rich cultural bonds, an open social culture, powerful societal support and a student body with ambitions and beliefs are all essential factors.

What kind of talents do you want to attract from overseas?

Our overseas talent recruitment emphasizes quality over quantity; we’re looking for good papers – not lots of papers. I hope our faculty members will put great stock in student training, rather than just be content with focussing on research. I believe excellent faculty members should care about the environment they work in, in addition to leading research capabilities. UCAS encourages active collaboration and extensive exchange between our faculty members and international peers. We provide outstanding researchers who return from overseas with state-of-the-art platforms that allow independent research and education, coupled with high-quality supporting facilities and efficient systematic services.

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Multiple Faculty Positions at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

The University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). As the largest graduate education institution in China, we are now seeking applications and nominations for multiple faculty positions at all ranks, covering a wide range of interconnected fields including Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Geosciences, Materials Science, Computer Science, Life Science, Natural Resources and Environment, and Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Candidates should have a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline, an outstanding record of research accomplishments, and the capability to lead an independent research group. The individual’s work experience and research performance will determine the position offered. Successful candidates will be provided with a competitive salary and significant start-up fund, appropriate lab space, together with other benefits. Candidates should submit a curriculum vitae in PDF to Ms. Li at, with the subject line “name + major”.

The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Sciences (KITS) at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences is one of the twenty network members of the Kavli Institutes worldwide. KITS invites highly qualified individuals to apply for multiple tenure-track or tenured faculty positions in all areas of theoretical physics and related computational or interdisciplinary studies. For additional information on this position, please visit All application materials should be submitted electronically as PDF files to Ms. Tracy Jin at

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