My Five Years at Tsinghua University – A Memorable Time

A recent happy event occurred for me: I successfully defended my thesis and was conferred the degree of PhD in Ecology by Tsinghua University! This also means that my time at Tsinghua is coming to an end. Looking back on the past five years, there are so many things to remember and be grateful for.

Five years ago, I received my undergraduate degree from Northwest A&F University, located in the beautiful town of Yangling, Shaanxi Province. I then went onto attend Tsinghua University to further pursue my studies as a PhD student. At first, everything at Tsinghua was new and unfamiliar. In those early days, Prof. Yu helped me adapt to my new environment. He also assisted me to quickly find my interest in crop modelling, for which I’m eternally grateful. This allowed me to focus more on developing crop models.

After my first year, I was fortunate to meet my supervisor, Prof. Han Wang, and join her as the first student at her research group (Lab of Plant Interactions: Climate, Ecosystem & Atmosphere, LPICEA). Prof. Han Wang is an amiable teacher, a good friend and a faithful collaborator. She guided me on how to do research, how to communicate with peers and stay true to myself.

Over the next few years, I worked closely together with her on designing and finishing my PhD research project, ‘Modeling Wheat Yields Based on Eco-Evolutionary Optimality (EEO)’. In this project, I started from a universal Productivity model (Pmodel) proposed by Wang et al., and developed a new model for wheat growth, named PC model – a Productivity Model for Crops. I then applied the PC model to simulate the potential wheat yield, diagnose its response to changes in climate variables and CO2 concentrations, and investigated the long-term adaptation of wheat sowing activity to climatology on global scale.

Group photo of LPICEA

When it comes to my PhD project, I would like to express my appreciation to two accomplished and respected scientists, Prof. I. Colin Prentice and Prof. Sandy P. Harrison, for their guidance during the whole project. My first encounter with them was during field work at Gongga Mountain in 2018. I was impressed by their rigorous scientific approach and boundless love for nature. Ever since, I have become their big fan. It’s been my great fortune to have a chance to cooperate with them and I’m grateful not only for their help with my project, but also in guiding my research career. We have not met offline for almost three years due to COVID-19. I miss the old days of camaraderie and look forward to the next opportunity we can all be together.

Constructive group discussions with Prof. Prentice and Prof. Harrison

I can recall many memorable events: weekly meetings, team outings and late-night struggles at the office. Also, so many people to thank, teachers, classmates, friends and everyone who helped me along the way.

Graduating from Tsinghua University, is a start of new phase in my life. Moving forward, I continue to uphold my original aspirations, while exercising kindness and working for the betterment of society.

Written by Shengchao in 15th Oct. 2022 at Tsinghua University


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