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Meng Jie: Science in and beyond Peking University

JUL . 11 2017

Peking University, July 10, 2017: Meng Jie, a professor in Peking University, is the first Yangtse River Scholar distinguished professor of particle physics and nuclear physics granted by Ministry of Education, and the winner of National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars in 2000. He obtained doctorate in Peking University in 1991, and had been a researcher in institutes in China, Germany and Japan. Since 1997, he has been a professor in Peking University and a visiting professor in well-known universities around the world. He became the president of School of Physics and Nuclear Energy Engineering of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2009-2012). Meng made original contributions in fields including chiral symmetry of atomic nucleus, corona phenomenon, pseudospin symmetry, and so on. He published more than 300 SCI papers and won many scientific awards at home and abroad. In 2012, he became a Fellow of the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

Encounter with Scientific Research and Peking University


Meng studied on his own since his middle school age. He has finished high school mathematics on his own before graduating from his middle school, and learned higher mathematics in high school. Having performed well in his college entrance examination in 1982, Meng would have been admitted by better universities, but he went to Southwest Normal University (Southwest University at present) for further study by chance.


Meng was still a fast learner in his university. He made use of learning resources of Foreign Language Department in order to improve his knowledge on foreign languages, and won a second place in English competition of the university. Also, he listened to courses of higher grades and finished his specialized courses in his junior year. Therefore he was encouraged to begin his research, read academic papers, and get familiar with the most cutting-edge and important fields. The head of Physics Department recommended and funded him to take part in the symposium held in Chongqing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Niels Bohr’s birth. Meng encountered his doctorate supervisor, Prof. Zeng Jinyan of Peking University during the symposium.

It was rare in the 1980s to take part in international academic meetings as a postgraduate student, while one of Meng’s research papers written during his Master’s study was embodied by the 3rd Asia-Pacific Physics Conference. He was also invited to deliver a presentation in the meeting. Meng was admitted as a Ph.D. student of Theoretical Physics in Peking University and became attached to the campus since then.

Progress in Theoretical Research and Physics Education

Meng was hired as a professor by Peking University in 1997. He was 31 years old then, and processed research while cultivating postgraduate students.


In the field of theoretical innovation, Meng, along with his team, published a paper about the various expressive form of chiral symmetry of atomic nucleus, and published further results of researches in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In the year of 2012, American scientists brought their experimental results to Peking University and made cooperative researches, finally proved Meng and his team’s theory to be a solid scientific discovery. In 2016, Meng led the research team made up by physics scientists of Shandong University, Peking University, Tsinghua University, the Institute of Theoretical Physics, CAS, and their international counterparts, discovered the evidence of the combining spontaneous process of chiral and space reflective symmetry of atomic nucleus, which was awarded as one of the 10 best scientific progresses of Chinese higher-education institutes. After years of discovery and researches, Meng’s team found that covariance density functional theory was one of the best ways to describe atomic nucleus, and systematically developed the theory in order to serve the description of nuclear phenomena and new physics discovery. World Scientific Publishing recruited Meng as chief editor of its series books International Review of Nuclear Physics, and published the 10th volume Relativistic Density Function of Nucleus Structure.


Meng is also an educator who trained more than 20 outstanding Ph.D. students. His students include professors and associated professors in Chinese and foreign institutes and have made groundbreaking scientific achievements of great importance.


To Pass on the Scientific Spirit

According to Meng, “Science is the integration of human discovery and knowledge about nature, therefore scientific research is to constantly expand and extend what we know, to achieve which we must conceive the frontier of human knowledge.”

 

International Physics Conference, Italy, June, 2013

After coming back to China in 1997, Meng’s friends abroad worried about his researches, since the research condition of China was still lagged behind the developed country at that time. However Meng did not hesitate, for he had a dream to pass on his scientific spirit and great confidence on the scientific development of China. He started to plan since 1997 and finally organized the 1st International Physics Summer School, inviting many famous foreign scholars to China to deliver lectures. At first the Summer School was funded by China and Japan, aiding financially outstanding postgraduate students to study in Peking University. Until 2011, the participators increased to more than 120 from 70, and Germany, France. and the E.U. became new sponsors, cultivating more excellent researchers. 

“We have our special thanks to these foreign friends, for they are doing this merely for our common scientific enterprise.” Meng says, “Peking University was lack of budgets and couldn’t pay foreign professors to give lectures on campus, but some foreign institutes helped us to invite them and gave them financial aids.”


The opening ceremony of International Summer School of Subatomic Physics, Beijing, August, 2011

Science is an undertaking and a heritage of human race. Meng devoted himself without reservation into scientific research both at home and abroad, both inside and outside Peking University. Following the idea, Meng supported Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics to establish School of Physics and Nuclear Energy Engineering, and set up a world-famous research team on nuclear physics and hadron physics. Meng also visited more than 20 countries and built cooperative research relationships with institutes in the United States, the E.U., Japan, Korea, and South Africa.

Written by: Hu Yue
Edited by: Hu Rong
Source: PKU News (Chinese)