Professor YONG Wen-AnCopyright: RWTH Aachen
Tsinghua University ZHOU PEIYUAN Centre for Applied Mathematics
Professor Michael Herty, Institute of Geometry and Practical Mathematics (IGPM)
Four weeks in July 2015
Professor Yong is a leading expert on hyperbolic relaxation problems and the Lattice Boltzmann Method (Applied Mathematics). These are of immanent importance for numerical and theoretical studies of recent models in computational fluid- and hydrodynamics.
His research stay focused on developing joint research topics and included talks with colleagues and students at different departments at RWTH Aachen University, such as the IGPM, Computational Engineering, Mathematical Analysis, Thermodynamics and Aerodynamics.
Professor Yong is no stranger to researching in Germany – he completed his PhD and Habilitation in Germany in 1992 and 2005 respectively. This was his first visit to RWTH Aachen University, sponsored within the framework of the Strategic Partnership Program between Aachen and Tsinghua, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The interview was conducted in Chinese by Dr. Birte Seffert, program coordinator at the RWTH Aachen University International Office.
Interview with Professor Yong
Professor Yong, what led to your research stay at RWTH Aachen? Is there a specific reason why you chose Germany and our university for your research visit?
Tsinghua and RWTH have much in common – both universities are strong in the engineering sciences. Quite some time ago, I spent several years in Germany, and I know many professors at RWTH Aachen. About 4 to 5 colleagues in Aachen work in my research area. Last year, when I met Professor Herty for the first time, he expressed the hope that I could come to Aachen for the purpose of collaboration. He then learnt about the Strategic Partnership Program between RWTH Aachen and Tsinghua University, which made it possible for him to invite me. When I came to Aachen I realized that I knew seven colleagues in the Department of Mathematics from my time in Heidelberg – back then, they were still students. I was really looking forward to learning from each other, and so I took the opportunity to see how my German colleagues at a prestigious academic institution conduct research in applied mathematics.
You have been to Germany several times in the context of your research. Did you gain any new insights during your stay in Aachen?
Even though I already knew several of the professors, so far we didn’t collaborate in our research or discussed our work in depth. This time around, it was an excellent opportunity to discuss research problems. One thing has deeply impressed me: the research of the Aachen professors is closely connected to engineering applications; many questions addressed by research come from engineering practice. We don’t have that at Tsinghua as yet to this extent.”
Did your stay in Aachen help to advance your research?
The discussion with my colleagues here in Aachen has led to many results. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to present my work to the Aachen researchers. Two weeks ago, we had a talk that was also attended by researchers from fields other than applied mathematics. I am very glad that this time around, we really worked together and prepared some of the results of our work for publication. In our discussions, we realized that we can combine the research conducted in Aachen very well with the research conducted at Tsinghua. In the past, we didn’t have a really good mutual understanding of our research. Through our discussions, however, we developed a strong interest in each other’s respective research focuses and quickly identified topics for collaboration, so that we’re now able to strengthen our cooperation. I am very glad about this, as the research field in question is relatively new. Even through researchers have already worked in this field in the past, I am convinced that there hasn’t been any close collaboration like ours so far.
These are the advantages of international collaboration: You get to know different angles and perspectives on your research topic that you would not have thought of.
I agree. That’s what I realized during our collaboration and in view of our results. I wouldn’t have thought possible to address so many research problems, as we didn’t have a close mutual understanding of our respective research activities. But through our exchange and discussions, we quickly realized that we can integrate our individual strengths and perspectives very well. In this way we’re able to achieve results that others before us were not able to achieve. I think that through our collaboration, we can really advance our research field.
Such collaboration requires time. When you meet colleagues at international conferences, for example, your time and opportunities for exchange are quite limited. To be able to spend four weeks together certainly helps.
That’s right. Scientific collaboration takes time, and this stay has given all of us sufficient time to think. When there was a problem, we had the chance to continue to discuss it the next day, which was highly useful and also very fruitful.
Professor Yong, thank you very much for the pleasant conversation.