【China Daily】Finding success in the promised land
When Rosa Lozano Duran informed her peers about her decision to join a scientific research institute in Shanghai in 2014, some hailed the move as a bold one, while others voiced their support, citing China's growing stature in the field.
"They told me that 'if I were at your age, I would do the same'," said Duran, 39, who has worked at the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences Affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, since early 2015.
Looking back, Duran, who is the principle investigator in a research group at the center, said that relocating to China is the best career move she has ever made.
The fact that she recently signed another five-year contract with the research center shows just how much she has enjoyed her stint here.
Recalling of the job interview she underwent at the Shanghai institute in mid-2014, the Spaniard said that she was impressed by the institute's facilities and the high standard of its research teams.
"It was quite a new institute when I first arrived, but it was of international standards and could even be compared with those counterparts in the West that I had worked with before," said Duran, whose specializes in the molecular interactions between plants and viruses.
"The Shanghai research center's goal was to become a powerhouse for plant science internationally. That was very ambitious, and it provided researchers with favorable working conditions."
When asked about why she searched for career opportunities in China, Duran said it was because she had witnessed the country's steady rise in the field of science and technology, as evidenced by hefty investments flowing in and influential Chinese scientists who were well connected in the world.
"The sky is your limit. I saw possibilities to grow here," she said, adding that she did not think twice when offered the job.
"The Shanghai institute has since helped me achieve my dreams by providing resources, and means of work," she added.
"There have already been results achieved in the past years of research and more and expected to come."
Duran's time in Shanghai has indeed been fruitful. Among her most notable findings is the latest discovery of a pathway inside plants by which plant cells transmit the information of threats from pathogens into the plant and initiate an immediate response.
The discovery, which was published in the journal Cell in August, is significant as it can pave the way to developing new strategies to engineer plant resistance to pathogen-caused diseases while maintaining a high crop yield.
Duran said this achievement was made possible partly because of the ideal working environment that has been designed to increase scientific productivity.
"We have cutting-edge technologies, top-notch equipment and facilities in cell biology, genomics, and proteomics at our disposal to aid our experimental work. Group leaders also have adequate intellectual to establish their own research lines within the framework of the institute and develop their research ideas," she said.
In terms of her biggest achievement over the years, the Spaniard pointed to the group of 15 scientists from China and other countries, including Spain, France and Tunisia, that she had established.
"We're a vibrant, dynamic international team working together to push the boundaries of our understanding of how viruses infect plants", she said, adding that this group collaborates with other researchers from within China and abroad.
"Having an international team is important as it fosters diversity. It also improves creativity because the integration of different backgrounds and expertise creates new perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking that pushes science to the next level."
Duran explained that if all her group members had grown up reading the same textbooks, they would probably provide the same answer to a problem. For this reason, people with different knowledge bases, lab experience and expertise can contribute to the formulation of different answers and help develop the full potential of the scientific community.
"This is why I believe that foreign scientists will continue to make valuable contributions to scientific development in China, just like Chinese scientists can and will contribute to the development of science at the international level," she said.
Han Bin, director of the Shanghai research center, which now has around 10 foreign scientists from countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Greece, said that the research results by foreign researchers have made the center more confident in attracting young and middle-aged talent from across the globe.
"Such results have also given our foreign scientists the confidence that they can produce high-quality research that is of the same level as those from developed nations," he said.
But for Duran, location is irrelevant.
"All scientists, regardless of where they are from, are building the body of knowledge through their contributions, which at the end will help the advancement of science worldwide," she said.
Link to the article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202010/05/WS5f7a8932a31024ad0ba7d390.html