Natural for biologist to change university

Updated 2017-05-11 10:00:55 China Daily

Yan Ning, a biologist at Tsinghua University, faced quite fierce criticism online when she announced she had accepted an offer from Princeton University and will become a tenured professor there starting this autumn. Many accused her of being "unpatriotic". Beijing Youth Daily comments:

It is quite common for top professors to jump from one top university to another. Yet seldom has any of them met such fierce opposition from their compatriots.

Yan has the right to apply for research funds, and when she fails, she also has the right to be unhappy. The fact that Princeton offers her a tenured professorship is testimony to her abilities and she deserves financial support that matches her research capabilities.

It is Yan's personal choice, and she does not need to justify it to anybody.

Also some have claimed Yan accepting a position at Princeton is a "shame" for China, this is rather absurd. Yan has spent 10 years at Tsinghua and her being accepted by Princeton shows domestic universities can cultivate top talents, and help them make higher academic achievements and gain worldwide recognition.

A closer look also shows that Tsinghua has attracted top global talents, too. Earlier this year, Nobel Prize laureate Chen-Ning Yang was reported to have given up his US citizenship to come to Tsinghua. These two incidents show there is a talent flow between Tsinghua and US universities. Yan is not the first Tsinghua faculty member to get tenure with a foreign university.

Of course, the total number of such professors is still small compared with the top global universities. But if more talents flow between Chinese universities and their top global partners, the gap between them will further shrink.

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