External review meeting on “Double-excellence” Development of Astronomy discipline of Yunnan University held
On November 20, 2020, an external review meeting on the development of world-class astronomy discipline at Yunnan University over the period of the first phase of “Double-excellence” Development was held in the Astronomy Building. Fourteen experts from National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Astronomical Observatories, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Yunnan Observatories, Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology, Institute of Theoretical Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, University of Science and Technology of China, Guangxi University and Guangzhou University joined the review. The heads of relevant administrative departments of Yunnan University also sit in.
Professor Qihua Zhao, Vice President of Yunnan University, gave a welcome address. She expressed a great appreciation for the long-lasting support from everyone and invited suggestions from the reviewers to further improve the astronomy development at Yunnan University. Prof. Xiaowei Liu, Director of South-Western Institute for Astronomy Research, presented an overview report about the developments and achievements of the astronomy discipline at Yunnan University. Prof. Zuhui Fan, Prof. Zejun Jiang, Associate Prof. Yang Huang, and Research Prof. Shengli Qin introduced respectively the research highlights of the four forefront fields of the discipline. Associate Prof. Xiangkun Liu gave a report on the research platform developments. After detailed inquiries and thorough discussions, the review committee formed a final review report.
The reviewers appreciated the high priority that Yunnan University gave to the development of astronomy discipline, by setting up a special discipline zone for it. The University provided strong support in personnel, funds and facilities, effectively promoting and ensuring a healthy development of the astronomy discipline, which has made remarkable achievements in the buildup of competitive research and teaching staff, enhancing greatly the research capability, especially in observational astronomy in Southwest of China. The developments of the research platform have been progressing rapidly. Once in operation, expected in late 2021, the unique Multi-channel Photometric Survey Telescope (Mephisto) will become a powerful tool in searching and classifying cosmic variables and transients, discovering new phenomena and revealing new physics. The research quality and output have been significantly improved, forming four forefront research groups that have accomplished a number of scientific results with originality, and played critical roles in large domestic and international research projects. The student training has achieved substantial progress, with the quality significantly improved. The buildup of a vibrant academic environment is impressive. The reviewers unanimously agreed that the astronomy discipline of Yunnan University had fully completed the tasks of the first stage of the development and the achievements are remarkable. This has laid a solid foundation for the further development into a world-class astronomical research center and a highland for talent cultivation in the next 5 to 10 years.
The reviewers suggested to further strengthen the recruitment, nurturing and support of top-notch talents. They supported the plan to construct a 4-meter optical telescope for general purpose to further enhance the capability of observational astronomy in order to fulfill the goal of developing world-class astronomy discipline at Yunnan University. They also pledged the Yunnan Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government and Yunnan University to further increase their support to provide stable and predictable policy and financial support for the development of astronomy discipline.