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An explorer in the world of science

By Chen Liubing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-30 06:12

Zhou Shuyun examines a sample in a lab at Tsinghua University on April 26, 2017. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Returning to Tsinghua

During her undergraduate study at Tsinghua University, Zhou developed a keen interest in condensed matter physics. After graduation, she continued her PhD studies at the University of California, Berkeley. After earning her doctorate degree, she became a postdoctoral fellow of the Advanced Light Source and later a project scientist of the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2012, Zhou decided to return to Tsinghua and start her own research group in the Physics Department.

"The academic level of undergraduate students at Tsinghua is excellent and is well recognized in international academia, but the overall research level of our doctorate students has large room to improve," Zhou said. As the country is improving both soft and hardware for scientific research, I feel obliged to come back and make my own contribution to the university, the professor said.

Zhou Shuyun in a lab at Tsinghua University on April 26, 2017. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Girls should listen to their hearts, not stereotypes

Zhou wishes that there will be no need to distinguish between male and female scientists one day. The professor said she has been quite used to the scenario of stepping into a conference hall and being one of a handful of female scientists among a sea of suits and ties.

"One good thing is that the evaluation criteria in scientific field are based on one's work, not gender, so I am quite ok as the minority."

"For girls who are interested in physics, what matters most is the call of the heart, and not to be interrupted by the social stereotype that girls are not born as scientists," Zhou said.

Zhou regards herself very lucky, for her doctoral supervisor Alessandra Lanzara is a female professor. Lanzara started her research group from nothing during Zhou's study in Berkeley, and received excellent research achievements while building her family and taking good care of the kids. "I never thought about whether female is suitable for scientific research, and the only thing I am concerned is whether I like it or not, and whether I can have fun and sense of accomplishment through scientific research."

"I hope I can be a positive support to my female students, and let them know that girls can strike a balance between scientific research and family," Zhou said.


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