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Professor QIU Yong

86th Congregation (2018)

Professor QIU Yong

Doctor of Science


The Chinese character for light (‘光’) first appeared on the Oracle bones. The upper part of the character shapes like ‘fire’; the lower part shapes like a person down on one knee.  Xu Shen’s Shuowen Jiezi, an ancient Chinese dictionary from the East Han Dynasty, defines it as ‘derived from fire, above a symbol of man, meaning brightness’.  As such, the character connotes bringing brightness and hope to mankind.  In Greek mythology, Prometheus incurred the wrath of Zeus, the king of gods, by stealing fire from heaven and giving it to humanity.  Thanks to technological advancements, we no longer need to steal fire from heaven to get light.  We can now obtain light and brightness in a multitude of ways, on earth and even in space. One of these ways is the Organic Lighting Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. 

An expert on optoelectronic materials, Professor Qiu Yong has devoted his career to the research of organic optoelectronic materials and devices.  His main interests focus on organic semiconductors, fundamental theories of organic electronics, and organic light-emitting materials and devices. 

With ancestral home in Rong County, Sichuan, Professor Qiu was born in July 1964.  He enrolled at Tsinghua University in 1983, majoring in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.  Upon obtaining his undergraduate degree, he was exempted from the admission examination and became a postgraduate student in Chemistry.  Upon receiving his PhD in 1994, he joined the faculty as a Lecturer, later promoted progressively to Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Deputy Dean of the School of Sciences, Vice Chairman of the University Committee of Academic Affairs, and Vice President of the University.  In 2015, Professor Qiu was appointed the President of Tsinghua University, with all the responsibilities and challenges that position entails—managing the prestigious century-old university, nurturing its talent, keeping it at the forefront of international academia, and aligning its objectives to the national strategic development needs.  Once a young freshman pursuing a dream of his own, Professor Qiu is now the head of a university driving the collective pursuit of an exalted goal.  In this 35-year journey, Professor Qiu has been studying and working in one place—his alma mater, embodying the quintessential Tsinghuanese from head to toe. 

Two years after receiving his doctorate, Professor Qiu took a giant step in his academic career by focusing his research on OLEDs, a solid-state, lightweight light-emitting technology that produces superior image quality with brighter displays and higher resolution.  Now common in electronic products and home appliances, this often-called ‘dream display and illumination technology’ has enhanced the quality of our lives, and experts predict that OLEDs will continue to improve our lives as we find new applications for them in an even more diverse array of sectors.  When OLEDs were still an emerging technology, Professor Qiu foresaw their potential for research and development and their future uses for society and country, evincing an exceptional vision and a desire to benefit mankind and inspire generations to come. 

Professor Qiu has dedicated himself to scientific research, material development, and the translation of research findings.  He is an advocate of novel cross-disciplinary research, and much renowned for his belief and efforts in integrating the laboratory with entrepreneur research platforms paving the way for product research commercialisation.  Professor Qiu’s dedication and passion for nurturing young scholars is also inspiring.  He has won countless accolades for his scientific innovations and pedagogic passions.  In 2003, he was awarded the Distinguished Young Scholar by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.  He was named by the Ministry of Education Changjiang Scholar in 2006 and National Model Teacher in 2007.  In 2011, he received the State Technological Invention Award – First Prize. In 2013, he was elected member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  He is currently a Member of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, Vice-Chairman of Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, and Deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress. 

In March 2015, Professor Qiu was appointed the President of Tsinghua University.  Nine months later, in December 2015, he led a delegation to visit CUHK and signed an agreement to enhance the exchange and academic collaborations across a number of fields between the two universities in furtherance of their 30-year relationship, a reaffirmation of how seriously he has taken the close tie between Tsinghua University and CUHK.  In June 2017, he visited CUHK again to preside over the opening ceremony of the CUHK-Tsinghua University Joint Research Centre for Chinese Economy, and accept the appointment as Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Science.  He also attended the Joint Orchestral Performance, jointly performed by teachers and students from the two universities, an event that gives an idea of how deep and comprehensive the collaboration between the two is. 

Throughout his career, Professor Qiu has taught by example and impressed many young minds.  He has persevered in discovering new knowledge and scaling new heights.  He has championed cross-disciplinary research, promoted the integration of academic research and industry applications, setting new trends in the community with his vision and vigour.  Both as a scholar and as an individual, he epitomises the true spirit of Tsinghua University encapsulated in its motto ‘Self-Discipline and Social Commitment’.  He practises what he preaches and acts as a role model.  Madam Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you Professor Qiu Yong for the award of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the academia and the society.