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Professor Xu Hongxing: A Scholar Treasures Modesty and Curiosity
Author:Jiahao Xiang  Date:2015-09-07  Clicks:

A winner of various awards including the National Award for Youth in Science and Technology, an author of over 100 articles in major international journals including Nature Communications and an editor of numerous top-notch journals, the 25 years experienced Physics Professor Xu Hongxing, doesn’t seem to have had enough. Surprisingly, when talking about his job, he doesn’t speak of it with the daunting sophistication and the inevitable weariness that one would assume to hear from a veteran. Instead, what you see is a man of utmost dedication and enthusiasm characteristic of a fresh starter, who is helplessly ravished by the beauty of physics and has no intention whatsoever to break free.


 NANO research with MEGA implications

One could sum up that Professor Xu’s career centers on the key word “nano”. Whether it’s a surface plasmon or a surface-enhanced Raman scattering, it’s all about studies at a nano-scale. Recently the research group led by Professor Xu added one important novelty contribution to this field. By establishing a self-consistent hydrodynamic model, they greatly facilitated the quantitative description of the plasmon at the nano or the sub-nano levels. Mysterious and confusing as these terms can be, what Professor Xu and his group are committed to enjoys widespread applications and unimaginable potential. From photocatalysis, solar cells, industrial paint to computers and the LCD screen on your cell phone, nano is everywhere and its influence will continue to expand.

 A down-to-earth scholar

Face to face with a successful man like Professor Xu, it is quite natural for one to wonder what more could this man possibly achieve and to believe that he must have fulfilled his dream. However, when asked, he, after thinking for a while, laughed, seemingly shy. “Dreams... I did have an interest in physics and philosophy during my high school years, but dreams come true? I don’t even consider myself successful”, he confessed smiling, with modesty. In the current society where the personal dream is being fervently championed or even overemphasized, his words were refreshingly resounding. Indeed, who has the time to dream and aspire when having no fun working, in the first place? Professor Xu is the kind of down-to-earth person that exemplifies the very importance of actions and the passionate attachment to the present. “Years have passed and I will never be entangled by whatever plans I made before. As long as the current work is interesting, then why bother about how far you are from your dream?”

As a matter of fact, that’s very similar to his answer when being asked his advice for those promising juniors. “Puzzles and confusions are certainly commonplace for young people, however, don’t be stopped by them. Take the initiative to move on and work hard, then things will clear up by themselves.”

 Science going global

In the recent research project that he led, an Italian postdoctoral researcher took an active part. Professor Xu, as a leading researcher both home and broad, is personally related to the “going global” strategies of the Chinese universities. When asked about the ways to enhance the international visibility of our country or our university, he said, “There are two main approaches, one passive and one active. You can continue to upgrade the existing software and hardware on the one hand with the purpose of attracting more foreign talents, which China does exceptionally well as many foreign researchers feel the conditions in China are better. On the other hand, you can also actively make visits and establish relations.”

According to Professor Xu, Wuhan University is speeding up its internationalization. “To increase the international visibility is a long process. However, Wuhan University is gradually getting its name heard in the international university world, for example, Rice University certainly knows WHU.”

 Now a mentor, once a student

Graduating from the Peking University with a bachelor degree in 1992 and leaving the Chalmers University of Technology with a Phd in 2002, Professor Xu’s academic career seems to have had a seemingly smooth trajectory. However, in retrospect, he can’t help but envy the lives of today’s students. “From my home village to Beijing, it used to take you about a day on the train, not to mention those colleagues from Sichuan or other relatively remote areas who had to spend almost three days travelling. And now, look at you: you can get anywhere you want and so fast!” he exclaimed commenting the good times we are now in, when “the country is enjoying its rapid development and we are increasingly feeling proud because of the power a strong China brings about.”

He believes, “young people should be perseverant in their pursuit, active in their thinking and interested in what they learn.” Perhaps, the best demonstration of his requirements is himself, who admits, “I never find research boring”. “Actually, it couldn’t be any better with the country financing you to do something you love best!”

This is Professor Xu Hongxing, accomplished yet still modest, experienced yet still curious.

To know more about Professor Xu Hongxing: http://en.whu.edu.cn/info/1073/1968.htm

(Edited by Diana & Sijia Hu)



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