-by Han Wang
It has been 2.5 years since this small research group of plant ecology was built up at DESS, Tsinghua in the spring of 2018. The group has expanded from one PI working on core carbon cycle processes and leaf economic traits at the first beginning, to additional two PhD students, Shengchao and Huiying, and two postdocs Shen and Wenjie by the end of 2019. Considering their backrgound and interests, they lead quite different projects on crop modelling, the coordination between photosynthetic and hydraulic traits, evoportranspiration and phenology. In the third year, we have two new PhD candidates Ziqi and Yanghang (still as external member) and one new postdoc Jian, who expand the research areas of LPICEA to optimality-based understanding/modelling of carbon allocation, carbon-climate feedback and functional diversity. The scale of LPICEA research also expands from the leaf or plant level, to the canopy and ecosystem level, and eventually and hopefully to the earth system level.
The evolvement of LPICEA research seems follow a bottom-up way. The diverse background and interests of LPICEA members are encouraged and appreciated when developing their research projects, therefore they could naturally contribute to the big picture from different perspectives that they are adept at, and simultaneously let the different parts of the big picture evolve in a self-organization way. More interestingly, after collaborating together for a couple of years, we see the picture and especially the links and overlaps among those different projects more and more clear. Not surprising to see such big overlaps, if we realize that the real world itself actually works not in a seperated way. It is the disciplines that artificially divided the real world and narrow our vision on different parts. Thus, we expected that once the law driving the world is identified, those piceses of projects would be linked together naturally and tightly.
The law underlying those ecological processes and this research evolvement probably is the self-organization principle, which then nourish a common interest of LPICEA members in the methology of logic deduction. This core concept sharing among LPICEA members not only unify them, but also makes their research unique from the traditional ecological research. Becasue the empirical observations serve as independent test on the logic deduction, rather than logic induction only. This means a new deminson of prior theoretical deduction is introduced when understanding the nature so that the conclusion not purely rely on the empirical observations themselves.
Although some gaps have been identified in the big picture, we would also like the picture evolve itself. Looking forward to seeing the new members join LPICEA and fit themselves into the evolvement with their diverse background but similar concepts as LPICEA team.