Photo for UCLA-Peking University symposium highlights scholars

Professor Jason Cong delivers opening remarks (Photo by Rebecca Kendall)

UCLA-Peking University symposium highlights scholars' collaborative research, innovations

Finding solutions to global problems propels international cooperation

The environment, aging, cardiovascular health, information technology and new materials and devices were front and center as leading scientists and engineers from UCLA and Peking University (PKU) discussed their ongoing collaborative research projects at the third annual UCLA-PKU Joint Research Institute in Science and Engineering symposium, held May 2 – 3 at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute auditorium.

Participants and guests started their day with greetings from Chancellor Gene Block during the pre-symposium breakfast.

“In an increasingly interconnected world where problems as well as problem-solving extend from the local to the global, the university is where innovative and internationally-oriented research, teaching and engagement can be found,” said Cindy Fan, associate vice provost of international studies and head of the UCLA International Institute, during her opening remarks. “UCLA is committed to its role as a world-class locus for cultivating global thinkers, citizens, leaders and problem-solvers.”

Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost; Stephen Cheung, managing director of business and economic policy for the City of Los Angeles; and Consul Jian Zhang, from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles also gave remarks. “I would like to extend my warm congratulations to all of you, and I hope such events can facilitate exchanges and cooperation between your two universities,” said Zhang.

Plenary talks were given by Tong Zhu, of PKU’s College of Environmental Science, who spoke about formation processes and health impacts of atmospheric pollution in megacity Beijing and North China plain; Steven Dubinett, from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, who gave an introduction to the Center for Translational Science; Hongya Gu, deputy dean of PKU's Department of Life Sciences, who gave a brief introduction to the PKU School of Life Sciences; and Jeff Burke, of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television and UCLA's Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance, who discussed named data networking and the future of civic and cultural information technology.

Some of the additional presenters included Jing Huang, of UCLA's molecular and medical pharmacology department, who spoke about new molecules that fight aging; XiaoDong Hu, of PKU's physics department, who shared his work on the exploration and study of LED lighting systems for the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, China; Kai Lei, of PKU's Center for Internet Research and Engineering, who discussed the research and practice of content-centric networking with P2P and video streaming; and Jesus Araujo, of UCLA's cardiology division, who spoke about the cardiovascular effects of air pollution.

Enthusiasm for the JRI initiative has been tremendous at UCLA and at PKU, says Professor Jason Cong, who directs the JRI with PKU Professor Xiaming Li. The institute, which has more than 150 faculty members from both universities under its umbrella, spans the physical sciences, engineering and applied sciences, and life sciences and medicine.  It is the one of the largest collaborative research efforts between a UC campus and an overseas university.

Cong says that it is important for universities to collaborate to solve issues that have global effects, such as sustainability, the environment and health research. Not only does it contribute to creating new knowledge and bettering the lives of people around the world, it also lays the groundwork for joint funding opportunities and is an excellent opportunity for both universities to cultivate relationships with potential graduate students. One of the most exciting outcomes of the JRI is the creation of CERC-LA, a new international interdisciplinary clean energy research center at UCLA. Original discussions started with JRI, and it has grown from there to include a variety of partners, he said. In addition, 12 undergraduate and graduate students will travel to PKU as part of the institute’s popular summer scholarship program. The students will spend 10 weeks working with researchers at PKU and learning about Chinese language and culture.