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Arieh Warshel Lectured on his Path to the Nobel Prize

published: 2016-04-29 10:58:00       hits: 

How can a scientist step on the path to Nobel Prize? What qualifies a scientist? How can university students make the most of their campus life? On the afternoon of April 28, Prof. Arieh Warshel, the Nobel Prize Laureate of the year 2013, member of the United States National Academy of Sciences as well as honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, presented his path to Nobel Prize at the UESTC Forum to the students.

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Prof. Warshel holds the belief that passion is the most powerful drivers of scientific researches. While Arieh Warshel serving in the Israeli Armored Corps (Reserved rank Captain), he found out the secret to developing his own potentials and interests. “I am a good improviser, and I am passionate for science”, he said. When his military service was finished, Warshel attended the Technion(Israeli Institute of Technology) in Haifa, where he received his BSc degree in Chemistry. Subsequently, he earned both MSc and PhD degrees in Chemical Physics (in 1967 and 1969, respectively), with Shneior Lifson, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. When he looked back to his campus life, he said that he enjoyed learning and even looked forward to exams, “for my excellent results always inspired me”.

However, life was not always a smooth journey and his passion for science was challenged. His poor oral English kept causing him headaches while he did postdoctoral work at Harvard University. Yet, his steadfast striving along the scientific path was never hindered by the unfamiliar language environment. Instead, he overcame this obstacle. After that, from 1972 to 1976 he returned to the Weizmann Institute, working as a senior scientist and associate professor. In 1976, he joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry as well as Dana and David Dornsifeat USC (University of Southern California) where he became an eminent professor in chemistry and biochemistry. He told UESTC students that he spent 12 hours a day on his work. On top of that, he was never stopped by wind or rain to carry out inspection and study. In responding to what characteristic traits make a scientist, he stressed on hard work and persistence, which enable him to brave difficulties and enjoy scientific researches as an integral part of life.

One needs to distinguish himself/herself by stepping on a unique path, that’s the key to his success in scientific researches. Prof.Warshelput that an innovative scientist must be curious about the world. Moreover, success requires more than theoretical knowledge but insights into humanities and arts. After all, science, a form of art, also needs imagination and more exposure to different fields which allow scientists to see science with fresh angles, he emphasized.

When confronted with hardships and disagreements, one must trust his/her own instincts and never be stopped by any doubts, he said firmly. In scientific researches, one must take to the most challenging problems, think out of the box and shoulder hard-to-bear responsibilities.

During the Q&A session, Prof. Warshel took questions from UESTC students on how to make the best use of university life, how to strike a balance between scientific research and humanities and arts as well as his reactions towards winning the Nobel Prize. He encouraged UESTC students to try everything and confront all challenges at this new beginning so that one day when they succeed, they can proudly say “I can make it”.

Before this lecture, Prof. Zeng Yong, Vice President of UESTC, had met Prof. Warshel. Prof. Zeng expressed his warmwelcome to Prof. Warshel in the first place. Then Vice President Zeng introduced to Prof. Warshel the discipline development, scientific researches, talents cultivation, and internationalization strategies of UESTC. Furthermore, he hoped that Prof. Warshel would visit UESTC more to encourage the students to go farther and better in their scientific road. After gaining detailed understanding of the international communication and cooperation as well as overseas students in UESTC, Prof. Warshel expressed his appreciation for the development of UEST. Both Prof. Warshel and Vice President Zeng extended strong wishes for better cooperation and communication in scientific researches to be strengthened further.

The lecture was held by National University Students Cultural Quality Education Base, and undertaken by School of Microelectronics and Solid-State Electronicsand School of Mathematical Sciences.

Translator: Wen Huan