FACULTY MEMBERS, GRADUATE STUDENTS ATTEND BEIJING SYMPOSIUM
For Chinese native Yini Ma, attending the China-US 2010 Joint Symposium on Energy, Ecosystem and Environmental Change last fall in Beijing, China, provided more culture shock than she expected.
“First of all, what surprised me is the amount of funding from the Chinese government for environment-related study,” says Ma, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
“There are many research projects going on all over China. Just for climate change, thousands of projects to collect fundamental data are essential for understanding some simple facts like carbon storage and density. On the other hand, I saw a lot of very high-tech methods being used in the research projects. This just happened a few years ago, and the research in this area has increased dramatically.”
Ma was one of three graduate students accompanying eight Purdue faculty members to the conference, an initiative sponsored by the China-US Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change. The JRCEEC, a collaboration of the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, addresses the combined effects of climate change and human activities on regional and global ecosystems and explores technologies for restoration of degraded environments.
To Leila Nyberg, a graduate research student in the School of Civil Engineering, the symposium was both educational and cultural. “I attended several fascinating talks in the areas of microbial ecology and sustainability,” she says. “I learned more about molecular techniques that would be applicable to my research, and received helpful feedback from colleagues about environmental risk assessment of nanomaterials.”
She adds, “September was the best time to visit China because it was during the Moon Festival, and preparation for Chinese National Day was in progress.” Along with hikes in Fragrant Hill Park, students and faculty members attended the Beijing Opera, visited the Great Wall and toured the Forbidden City.
Jennifer Burks, a PhD student in the Department of Agronomy and the interdisciplinary Ecological Sciences and Engineering program, says that her personal development was enhanced by the cultural visits.
“Although this portion of the trip was more relaxed and less academically oriented, it was necessary in order to gain a more international perspective and respect for different cultures,” she explains. “Perspective development is essential in not only understanding international research, but also in developing international collaborations.”
The Center for the Environment is synergizing relationships between faculty from many disciplines, industry, the public
and the government to respond to environmental challenges. Contact us at www.purdue.edu/dp/environment.