• "What is the Meaning of Life?" - Pan Wenshi Research Team Interacted with Students in Guangxi


  • Peking University, Dec 21: Prof. Pan Wenshi, Director of the Research Base for Biodiversity of Peking University and professor of PKU's College of Life Sciences, visited Chongzuo High School on Dec. 16th with a team from the research base.

    The six members shared their study, research and life experiences with more than 3,000 local students in Chongzuo City, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


    Prof. Pan Wenshi (second from the left) in the lecture

    Founded in Nov. 1996, PKU's Research Base for Biodiversity has established field study bases on the wild life of white-headed langurs (an endangered species of monkey) in Chongzuo, an economically disadvantaged city in border areas of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. For 13 years despite geographical or technical obstacles, Prof. Pan's team has made remarkable achievements in the protection of white-headed langurs and the research of biodiversity.

    PKU alumna Dr. Yao Meng made a speech during the meeting, sharing her experiences in the devotion to life sciences since her teenage years, and encouraging students from Chongzuo High School to think about their life choices by finding their interests, spending time to learn more about them and holding on to their dreams.


    Dr. Yao Meng, student of Prof. Pan Wenshi

    Dr. Yao, who entered PKU as a molecular biology major in 1996, continued her research in the University of Michigan after obtaining a PhD degree there. This year, she decides to leave the US for China to pursue the study of biodiversity following Prof. Pan Wenshi.

    She mentioned that she encountered Prof. Pan in a lecture for the first time when she was a PKU undergraduate, and was deeply moved by Prof. Pan's passion for career and humanistic care. She believes that Prof. Pan distinguishes himself in the awareness of welfare of ordinary people. She then asked Prof. Pan to give an inscription, which later became Dr. Yao Meng's motto, "all our efforts for the well-being of all."

    In 1998, Yao carried out the field study led by Prof. Pan in a remote but serene base in Chongzuo. She drew herself in thinking of natural history and theories of evolution, as well as the further relationship between nature and human beings. During an investigation, a local countryman told Yao and her classmates that it was Prof. Pan that had helped them a lot, from financial aid for the education of his grandson, to the construction of infrastructural facilities in the country. Yao was then presented with a parcel of careful packaging, in which the name card of Prof. Pan was meticulously kept. "Such move in the deepest of heart is the best honor for any scientist, more emotionally-touching than any gold medal or published papers," Yao Meng said. Prof. Pan's devotion and care have bestirred her to pursue another approach to scientific study where it needs much more effort, but the study was in accordance with human's welfare.


    Ms. Pan Yue, daughter of Prof. Pan Wenshi

    Daughter of Prof. Pan Wenshi, Co-founder and Deputy-president of www.cncard.com, Pan Yue, also shared her life experiences and entrepreneurship. A PKU mathematics graduate, she took on her career in Hearst Medical Group (Beijing) instead of pursuing her graduate study in the University of Maryland. She founded her own IT company, cncard.com in 1999 and has made brand new achievements in China's e-commerce industry especially B2C, with an annual sales revenue today of RMB 500 million. Last June, she made up her mind to drop the current post and follow her father's cause on research of biodiversity, then joining the Guangxi Biodiversity Research Base led by Prof. Pan.

    "I realized that real happiness lies in what Father is insisting on doing - endeavoring to bring help and happiness to more people," said Pan Yue, encouraging the audience to seek the meaning of life through persistence on goodness, honesty and ideals.

    Zhang Lan, an economics graduate from Beijing Technology and Business University, also shared with the students her thoughts on dropping the job in banking industry and joining the research team on biodiversity and protection of white-headed langurs.


    Students waiting to post questions

    The team members answered questions on environmental, ecological and climate issues as well as concerns about choices of life and study during the Q&A session. Ye Guohua from Chongzuo High School was among the deeply touched students, "I learned the significance of love from the team. Through that word, I saw the light of humanity and humanistic care."

    "It is most significant for the high-school students to learn about the deeds of Prof. Pan's team in a crucial period of growing up," said Liang Mingzhi, principal of Chongzuo High School. "Prof. Pan's care for Guangxi and Chongzuo is also moving, especially for a scientist devoted to environmental protection at the expense of giving up all the favorable living conditions. What young people need now is the spirit of teamwork and diligence in fulfilling the ideals. The lecture has enlightened all of us."


    Prof. Pan Wenshi interacting with students after the lecture

    The Research Base for Biodiversity, Peking University, organizes lectures or other activities several times a year for local people, especially students, on bio-civilization and ideals of life, enriching the local culture and life. Prof. Pan expressed his excitement after the lecture, "we will keep organizing similar activities, and I share the happiness with young students here."


    Translated by: Jacques
    Edited by: Seren
    Source: PKU News (Chinese)