Top honor for two Chinese scientists

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-02 08:58

Two top Chinese scientists have been officially granted the honor of becoming foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the United States in recognition of their outstanding achievements in their fields.

Yuan Longping, director-general of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre in Central China's Hunan Province and Bai Chunli, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing were formally introduced to the academy last Saturday at a global meeting of US academy members and foreign associates.

Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States.

Bai and Yuan were among 72 members and 18 foreign associates from 16 countries to be named for "one of the highest honours in American science and engineering", which was announced in April 2006.

Yuan, 77, dubbed the "father of hybrid rice" for his extraordinary contributions toward developing high-yield rice, is a household name in China.

With more than half of China's paddy fields growing Yuan's rice, his scientific breakthrough has fed millions of people in the world's most populous country.

His "super rice" has also been introduced to more than 20 other countries.

An online poll last November showed that the majority of Chinese believed Yuan deserved a Nobel Peace Prize for his immense contribution in fighting against hunger.

Bai, 52, is considered to be a leading expert in China's molecular nanostructure and nanotechnology studies.

Many Chinese scientists have been named to the elite US academy.

The late renowned bridge expert Mao Yisheng (1896-1989) was named as a NAS foreign associate in 1982, the first Chinese scientist given the honor.

Rather than speaking of personal achievements, many scientists attribute the honor to an overall enhancement of China's science and research strength.

"I think the fast development of Chinese science has drawn increased attention from the US academy," Bai said in an interview with China Daily last year shortly after he was elected.

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