A delegation led by Ai Xuefeng, vice-mayor of Shenzhen, China, visited TWAS headquarters in Trieste, Italy, to learn how the China -TWAS partnership is supporting scientific progress across the developing world.
The meeting was part of the delegation's wider visit to Trieste scientific institutions, organized to showcase the impact that national and international centres headquartered in Trieste have in building a common mission with the Global South.
For many years, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and TWAS have partnered in a programme to support aspiring scientists from the developing world in PhD studies. Over the past 16 years the PhD fellowship programme has awarded 1,700 fellowships, 22% of which to female scientists. During two terms that CAS President Bai Chunli served as the president of TWAS (2013-2018), the CAS-TWAS President's PhD Fellowships supported up to 200 scholars per year at top Chinese universities and research institutes. More than 230 awardees are expected to graduate in 2019.
"I am very impressed by these results – we feel very close to TWAS," said Ai. "Through your presentation we learned how much effort TWAS has put in promoting scientific development. Thank you for your outstanding work."
As TWAS's Executive Director Romain Murenzi noted when he welcomed the delegation: "We truly enjoy the collaboration with China and the Chinese scientists. In our Academy we currently have about 1,200 Fellows, and more than 250 are from China."
In addition to its partnership with CAS, TWAS is building its relationship with the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST). The meeting of the TWAS Council, scheduled for November in Hangzhou, will be hosted by Zhejiang University, with support from CAST. The 2022 TWAS General Meeting also is tentatively slated for Hangzhou.
Building scientific capacity in developing countries can have a ripple effect at various levels. After receiving a CAS PhD fellowship in 2005, Nigerian chemist Emmanuel Unuabonah was selected as a TWAS Young Affiliate from 2009-2013, and he received TWAS research grants in 2010 and 2014. He now manages his own laboratory at Redeemer University, and several of his students are starting work on their own PhDs and have receive awards to continue their research.
Shenzhen, located just north of Hong Kong in Guangdong Province, is a major Chinese technology and manufacturing centre and a hub for China's international engagement. It is home to the world's third-busiest container port.