In 2009, the Royal Society of Chemistry signed a cooperation agreement with the State Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), a division of the Chinese Government. As part of a wider governmental initiative to enhance the global impact of Chinese science and China’s higher education institutions, the RSC and SAFEA provide funding for a Visiting Researchers Programme. This encourages academics from the UK to visit Chinese universities to share best practice, advise Chinese researchers on presenting their research to an international audience and to stimulate collaboration between UK and Chinese institutions.
This blog provides a space for participants to share their experiences and for the RSC to highlight the opportunities that stem from the SAFEA programme.

*The map is reproduced from the United Nations Statistics Division

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Dr Falko Drijfhout from Keele University has also just returned from his trip to Zheijang University in Hangzhou, China.

He has visited Zheijang before, in September last year, when he got chatting to a Chinese researcher who was interested in collaborating on research into whiteflies, a serious pest to crops. This year the RSC has sponsored a second visit for him to discuss their ongoing research on the role of hydrocarbons in whitefly behaviour and identification.

Read more about Falko's trip and the story behind this collaborative work...
Posted by Amy Styring on Aug 16, 2012 1:24 PM BST

Professor Annie Bligh 
from London Metropolitan University has just got back from her trip to Qinghai University Medical College in Xining, China.  She had a fantastic experience and we welcome her back to the UK! 

Read more about her trip in her day to day account of her experiences which follows...
Posted by Amy Styring on Aug 2, 2012 2:31 PM BST
Currently two researchers are visiting China as part of the SAFEA programme.

Annie Bligh from London Metropolitan College is currently visiting Qinghai University. 

Carl Redshaw from the University of East Anglia has already visited Hunan Normal University and is now on the second part of his trip in Beijing.

We look forward to hearing more about their experiences shortly.
Posted by Laura Smart on Jul 24, 2012 10:03 AM BST

In 2011 Dr Falko Drijfhout visited Zhejiang University as part of the RSC Visiting Researcher Programme. This year he will return to  follow-up on shared research projects and discuss opportunities for further collaborative work. To find out more about his visit last year have a look at his trip report.
Posted by Laura Smart on Jun 15, 2012 9:28 AM BST

David Andrews from the Univeristy of East Anglia visited Sichuan University last month. He gave seven presentations, one of which was titled How to Capture Light - Learning from Nature.  Have a look at the advert for his trip.

Posted by Laura Smart on Jun 8, 2012 3:39 PM BST
Since 2010, 9 researchers have visited 9 universities in China. Have a look at our map to see the locations.

This year another 5 researchers will visit China. They are:

We look forward to hearing about their trips shortly.

Posted by Laura Smart on May 15, 2012 1:52 PM BST

Gave another lecture this morning, this time on our main-group organometallic chemistry. I had to a work a bit harder to keep everyone’s attention today as it was much hotter and the air conditioning seemed to be struggling a bit. However, a mid-lecture break to show some pictures and tell some stories about London and Imperial College (did I mention this is where I am based?) seemed to do the trick. Afterwards we bumped into a large group of students in combat fatigues marching around the campus which quite surprised me. Although to outsiders’ eyes such as mine this seemed very militaristic, I was assured this was not the case and it’s actually just a tradition that all new students have to undergo a week or two of so-called “training”. I was perhaps over-optimistically beginning to think I understood China, but I now realize it’s going to take a lot longer!
After lunch (no siesta today) we set off to the Planning Exhibition Hall in Tianjin which contained many models and displays on the future plans for development of the city and its surrounding areas. It was interesting to see how ambitious the plans were, including not only the development of new housing estates big enough to be cities in their own right, but also completely new industrial sectors, power-plants, highways and a brand new subway system. It looks like the exponential growth in the population and economy in Tianjin is likely to continue well into the future. On the way back to the University we stopped at a food street to try some mooncakes – a tasty delicacy used to celebrate the mid-Autumn festival which falls next week. This evening there was time for one last meal with Professor Bu and some of his group before saying goodbye as he was departing for a meeting elsewhere the following day.
Posted by Rob Davies on Oct 26, 2010 9:31 AM BST
I arrived at my hotel in Beijing just before midday, and met up again with Rosemary from the RSC who had kindly agreed to spend her afternoon showing me some of the sights of the city. However, before this we lunched at one of the restaurants in the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) with Lei Fengyun , Deputy Director General of at SAFEA and Professor Wang Qinglin, Director of the International Office at BIT. SAFEA were joint instigators and sponsors of my trip, and I found it particular valuable to meet Lei Fengyun and talk to him about how he envisions the SAFEA-RSC program developing over the next few years. He was particularly keen to tell me how he would like to extend the scheme to more Universities in the West of China, since these Universities are on the whole less well developed and tend to have no or very few contacts or collaborations with Universities outside China.


After lunch Professor Qinglin gave us a tour of the BIT campus, which despite being in the centre of Beijing was very green and full of date and persimmon trees. The University was also the proud owner of a new indoor stadium, built to house the volleyball competition at the 2008 Olympics. After saying goodbye there was just time for a quick trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace, which was certainly a highlight for me. Tomorrow I return the London and the beginning of a new academic year.
Reflecting on my trip, I can say that it was certainly a worthwhile and educational experience, and I have been particularly impressed by the generous hospitality of all my Chinese hosts. I hope very much that in the future I can continue to contribute to the SAFEA-RSC program and return to meet again my new friends and scientific collaborators in Tianjin, and also maybe visit some other Universities in the West of the country which I imagine will once again challenge all my preconceptions of China.
Thanks to David Clark, Hongmei Peng and Anna Simpson at the RSC for organising much of the trip for me, the RSC and SAFEA for funding, and also all my hosts in China especially Professor Xian-He Bu.
Posted by Rob Davies on Oct 26, 2010 9:31 AM BST

This morning I had the opportunity to meet with a number of other academics at Nankai University and hear about their research and visit their labs. I was extremely impressed with what I heard and saw, but this is perhaps not surprising as I had previously been told that Nankai is consistently ranked in the top two for chemistry research in China, and is also one of largest Chemistry Departments in China.  I was also able to talk to some of the students and find out a bit more about life as a student in China. Although many aspects of student life would be familiar to students in the UK, there are also some significant differences. For example in China, both undergraduate and masters students are expected to live on campus for the full duration of the course and usually in shared dormitory rooms of up to 8 students. I know that some of my students in the UK have difficulty being in the same room together, so dread to think how they would cope with such an arrangement, but perhaps it would do them some good!

After lunch (and siesta!) I was taken by the same two students as yesterday, Lifu Wang and Li Xue, to see some more attractions in the city. These attractions included a new and large museum containing historical artefacts and treasures, and also a traditional shopping street with many local arts and crafts shops selling items such as painted scrolls, Chinese opera masks, jade carvings and painted snuff bottles. The students very kindly commissioned one of the local artists to write my name on a scroll with the individual letters fashioned from pictures of a dragon, a phoenix and a goldfish (all apparently good luck in China). I think it will look great on my office wall when I return. As is becoming the norm, in the evening I was treated to the best in Chinese hospitality involving plenty of good food, drink and conversation.

Posted by Rob Davies on Oct 26, 2010 9:28 AM BST
My last day in Tianjin. I was picked up by my host for the day Prof Xiaojun Zhao and we travelled to Tianjin Normal University, home to approximately thirty thousand students. I was first given a tour of the University by car, necessitated by the sheer size of the campus. I then gave my lecture in the Chemistry Department to a large turnout – I did feel a bit conscious of the fact that everyone there had given up their Saturday morning to come and see me talk, but apparently the weekends tend to be a lot less sacrosanct in China than the West.
The Chemistry building in Tianjin Normal University is only a couple of years old and after my talk I was keen to see around it. The building itself was very large, and I tried hard not to look jealous as I was shown the new staff offices which were 6 or 8 times the size of my office in London, and also a basement corridor full of brand new equipment including several X-ray diffractometers,  a SQUID magnetometer and an AFM machine. It was good to see that China is willing to invest so much money into the future of its Universities, and it reminded me of the old Chinese saying that if you plant a tree in your youth it will provide you with shade in your old-age. In a time of large funding cuts in the UK, it is a shame that the UK Government cannot be persuaded to see the benefits of a similar longer-term approach.
After a sumptuous and pleasurable lunch in a famous local fish restaurant with Professor Zhao and several other members of the faculty, I set off in the company of Drs Zhong-Yi Liu and En-Chan Wang to visit the Shi-family mansion. This is a large house dating to the 19th century which was owned by one of the richest people in the city, and provided an interesting perspective on life in the city at the time as well many insights into Chinese culture and heritage. The day ended with another large and fine dinner, this time at a Chinese Muslim restaurant. I am now back in my accommodation and reluctantly packing for my early departure tomorrow to Beijing where I will spend one day before returning to London.
Posted by Rob Davies on Oct 26, 2010 9:27 AM BST
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