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Michael Orr博士的PIFI学者故事

已有 778 次阅读 2018-7-31 08:29 |个人分类:博士后合作|系统分类:人物纪事

从1993年就读硕士研究生开始算起,我从事昆虫系统学工作已经有25个年头。在这25个年头中,我对昆虫系统学的热爱、兴趣,从无到有,并有幸和一批青年一起成长,共同呵护这一份难得的乐趣。

1993-1995年,应该算是培养专业兴趣的一段时间,也是于我至关重要的环节。这段时间,没有归鸿教授和苏翠荣教授两位先生的宽容,没有生物系各位前辈和老师的引导,没有图书馆吴老师特许,我的专业兴趣很可能被年少轻狂不经意之间就挥洒在无尽的迷茫中。读万卷书、行万里路就是我跑野外的一盏明灯,在无数次彷徨中把我拽回到学业中来,并让我下定决心要攻读博士学位。可惜原来的一些计划号路径,已经被自己的任性关闭,只好冒险到北方一试。好友张兴中到动物研究所图书馆复印富有稚虫文献,见到了黄大卫先生,并向我介绍了一些情况,让我对以前从来不敢考虑的科研圣地有所憧憬。1995年年末硕士论文即将成稿之际,我拜访了南开大学郑乐怡先生和动物研究所黄大卫研究员,算是真正为我开启了昆虫系统学的一扇窗口。这扇窗口,不仅让我时常能够和国内一流的先生共事,还可以参加当时逐渐丰富起来的国际学术交流活动。通过这扇窗口,我越来越体会到昆虫系统学之艰深、博大。动物研究所为我提供了足够的平台,让我能够从中得到浸润和培育。

另外一方面,这扇窗口,也为我提供了国际交流和合作的机会。可以说,2001年第一次出国参加国际会议,我和欧洲一流的寄生蜂系统学工作者交流;2002年,黄大卫研究员组织的第五届国际膜翅目学家大会(5th ICH),国际一流的膜翅目学家齐聚北京香山饭店;2003年,我访问加拿大安大略省皇家博物馆,开始接触并分子系统学工作;2004-2005年,我访问英国自然历史博物馆,尝试开展寄生蜂分子分类学工作;2006年至今,我组织自己的团队,开展一系列的国际合作研究工作。

在这个过程中,我和逐步壮大的团队在某些环节取得了一些进展。但总体感觉在昆虫系统学的多个环节,我们离国际一流还相距甚远。特别是在昆虫系统学的分类学部分,要想在夯实分类基础的同事,快速提升水平,还有比较多的学术问题要思考,要解决。标本长期积累和年轻人才储备是昆虫系统学工作中必不可少,一时难以超越的基础环节。没有长期规划和用心培育,包括昆虫系统学在内的基础科学梦想个人感觉难以实现。以新兴的基因组学技术为例:新技术的引进毫无疑问会大大推进昆虫系统学的发展。但是没有昆虫系统学中好的重要问题,再好的技术,即便是修修补补,也找不到合适的点。进一步想,昆虫系统学本身重要问题的提出亟待具备国际视野、拥有浓厚的专业兴趣、扎实的分类学功底,并愿意为学科忘我贡献的青年学者。

我本人从本科一直到博士学位,都是在中国的大学和科研机构完成。尽管导师归鸿先生是东吴大学的毕业生,黄大卫先生从英国自然历史博物馆留学归来,但是个人深切感受到科研素质教育不仅仅是理论学习和技能培训,还涉及到包括文化、氛围和思维在内的多维度熏陶。我非常幸运能够在较为年轻的阶段得到不间断的支持和熏陶。我也希望通过各种方式努力为更为年轻的昆虫系统学学者推动建立自由学术交流的平台,让他们感受到这样的氛围和帮助,减少他们在早期科研道路不可避免的孤独感。这也是为什么这几年来,我和同行们努力在推动生物系统学论坛的主要因素。

Michael Orr博士期间的合作导师之一,Terry Griswood很早就向我介绍他的情况。在Michael就读期间,我们就有邮件联系,希望邀请他来所里合作研究条蜂分类。直到2017年6月份,Michael才决定通过PIFI项目来所里做博士后项目,并开始起草合作项目。2017年11月,Michael Orr来到动物研究所。在这半年中,Michael在周青松博士等的帮助下,执行了高黎贡山等野外考察任务,并参与了一系列我研究组和美国、德国、澳大利亚的合作课题的研讨。基本每次咖啡厅不定期的讨论后,Michael都会在晚上把讨论的工作记录并整理成文发给我。现在,他已经构思并在执行自己独立推动的几个课题。

半年下来,我个人体会:Michael和组里的几位年轻人具备了我所期待的昆虫系统学青年学者的要素。比如我带的第一个研究生,罗阿蓉博士,在分子系统学方法论方面已经做出了一流的工作;第一个博士后,张峰博士在厚实的分类学实力基础上,已经满怀热情地开展系统发育基因组学工作;Douglas Chesters博士已经从一个博士后成长为副研究员,开始整合气候变化、地理分布和系统发育信息学,开展一些独特的工作。更为开心的是,经过多年的寻找、磨练,我研究组培养了一名姬小蜂科系统学博士,并在分类学方面超过了我个人的水平。通过和这些优秀的年轻学者在一起共事,我感觉到硕士生阶段打好分类学基础,培育物种概念,是后期他们能够较快成长的关键之一。

他们在很多方面已经超越了我的预期,也在很短的时间内形成了自己的科研特长和风格,值得我个人和研究组的支持。我们期待Michael Orr博士和其他新人一样,能够在这样的平台上,通过和研究组,乃至中国相关学者的合作窗口,为他热爱的昆虫系统学作出他的科学贡献。


 My Time in China as a postdoctoral researcher

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My name is Michael and I study bees at the Institute of Zoology in Beijing. I moved to China in November 2017, following the defense of my dissertation, and I’ve since been awarded postdoctoral support by President’s International Fellowship Initiative(PIFI), the Chinese Academy of Sciences. As part of this program, I’m studying the evolution of mimicry in high elevation endemic bee species, alongside many other exciting projects in Dr. Zhu Chaodong’s lab. I’ve been continually impressed by the level of research activity in China as well as the support my lab provides to foreign visitors. In large part thanks to the friends I’ve made as well as support from my lab, the transition has been relatively quick and easy, much better than I expected. Within two weeks, I already had a Chinese bank account and phone, and even an apartment and gym membership.

W020180727575752900296.jpg

Acclimating has been a surprisingly quick process. I strongly value self-reliance so I’ve been working to do things more independently, and luckily it has been easier than I expected because the people here are generally quite nice and accommodating with foreigners. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t cultural differences, of course. Almost everyone at the Institute of Zoology speaks English capably, but that isn’t the case everywhere, even here in Beijing. Realistically, if you plan to come to China, you should be prepared to adapt to a more Chinese lifestyle. After all, immersion is not really immersion if you always stay in a bubble. Acclimatization in China means getting used to a relatively fast-paced work environment, taking things as they come, and dealing with frequent changes in planning. It also means that some websites can be rather challenging to access. Every culture has its unique differences and challenges, and these are accompanied by a suite of clear benefits. The people here are friendly and welcoming and very understanding of my inability to correctly speak even the most basic Chinese. The food, for instance, is one of my favorite elements of Chinese culture. Although things like chicken feet or pig intestines might sound scary at first, they’re quite delicious, and it’s nice to see more of animals put to use than is seen in the West. While obviously different from my prior experiences in the United States, living in China is not as frightening as one may think.

I’ve frequently been asked why I came to China, by colleagues and even random people I’ve met on the street here. The easy answer is that the type of bee I specialize on is very species-rich in Asia and that I always wanted to work here at some point, but that’s not the entire reason. Though I’ve visited much of Europe, I’ve never properly lived in another culture, and I knew I wouldn’t always be able to uproot and move so easily. It was too good an opportunity to pass up:  the chance to continue my research in a country that clearly values and invests in basic science. Six months on, I’m happy with my decision to come to China.

Pictures : from Prof. Yan-Qiong PENG

Source: Institute of Zoology, CAS




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