1. BREIF INTRODUCION
In addition to being one of the oldest chemistry departments in China, established in 1907, the Chemistry Discipline at Sichuan University (SCU) has become one of the most important bases for training chemists and undertaking scientific research in Western China. The College of Chemistry (CoC) at SCU was among the first selection of academic entities approved by the Ministry of Education for postgraduate education. The Chemistry Discipline has been designated as a National Base for Fundamental Scientific Research and Teaching Training and the chemistry program was selected as one of the featured disciplines in China. Moreover, the Chemistry Discipline was selected by the Ministry of Education to implement the National Top-Notch Undergraduate Training Pilot Plan, the National Program for Strengthening Fundamental Disciplines, and the Top-Notch Undergraduate Training Plan 2.0. Recently, the Chemistry discipline at SCU was selected by the Ministry of Education as one of the National “Double First-Rate” disciplines.
The Chemistry Discipline at Sichuan University proves its worth as a base for scientific research, running one State Key Laboratory, two National & Local Joint Engineering laboratories, and 10 Provincial Key centers and laboratories. This includes the State Key Laboratory of Polymer Material Engineering, the National & Local Joint Engineering Laboratory for Eco-Friendly Polymeric Materials, the National & Local Joint Engineering Laboratory for the Preparation of Bio-Oil from High-Energy Vegetative Matter, the Key Laboratory for Green Chemistry and Technology (Ministry of Education), the Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Friendly Polymer Materials (Ministry of Education), and the Provincial & Ministerial Collaborative Innovation Center for Eco-friendly and Fire-safety Polymeric Materials. The Key Laboratory for Green Chemistry and Technology from the Ministry of Education is the first key laboratory in China which was established for the purpose of carrying out research in green chemistry and technology and it was rated excellent by the Ministry of Education in the 2013 and 2019 regular evaluations. Moreover, we were granted two national bases under the Program for Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities (“111 Project”), namely, “the National Base of Talent Introduction and Innovation in the Discipline of Green Chemistry and Technology” and “the National Base of Talent Introduction and Innovation in the Discipline of Eco-friendly and Fire-safety”.
2. REPRESENTATIVE ACADEMIC STAFF
The success of the Chemistry Discipline at Sichuan University benefits from its excellent faculty and staff. Since the modern Chemistry Department was established, many eminent scholars, including Hongjuan Ren, Hongyuan Zhang, Quan Zhang, and Guosen Yan, and many others, have served as faculty. Currently, the CoC features a faculty of 122 members (70 Full Professors and 44 Associate Professors), including over 40 nationally-recognized talents. Such luminaries in the CoC include two Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Prof. Xiaoming Feng and Prof. Qingshi Zhu), one Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (Prof. Yuzhong Wang), one National Teaching Master, 16 distinguished professors under four types of national programs (the “Cheung Kong” Scholars of the Ministry of Education, the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, the Recruitment Program of Global Experts, and the Leading Scientific Experts for Scientific Innovation under the Ten-Thousand Talents Plan), 20 young outstanding professors under four types of national programs (the Recruitment Program for Young Global Experts, the Special Program of Young Top-Notch Talents, the Young Program for “Cheung Kong” Scholars, and the National Science Fund for Outstanding Young Scholars).
Furthermore, the Discipline was awarded two “Innovative Research Group” designations from the National Natural Science Foundation of China on the subject of “New Reactions and Strategies for Highly Selective Organic Synthesis” and “Synthetic Chemistry”, a National Teaching Team on “Green Chemistry”, and five Teaching & Research Teams at the provincial level.
3. REPRESENTATIVE GRADUATES
We place cultivating scientific experts with moral integrity as a top priority and we apply this philosophy into teaching and training in order to cultivate more excellent experts and social elites. Each year on average, we admit 300 freshmen, 185 Masters, and 110 PhD students with good quality and potential. Moreover, the Chemistry Discipline at SCU has made fruitful achievements in enriching the national reservoir of intellectuals with up to 15,000 graduates since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Those distinguished alumni include six Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, namely, Professor Rongti Chen, Professor Lun Xiao, Professor Shiyang Gao, Professor Fen’er Chen, Professor Yuliang Zhao and Professor Daqiao Meng, over 30 Ministry of Education “Cheung Kong” Scholars and awardees of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, and many distinguished professors abroad, such as Prof. Zhen Cheng at Stanford Univ., Prof. Shouheng Sun at Brown Univ., et al.
4. REPRESENTATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS
Aiming at national innovation-driven strategies, the Chemistry Discipline puts emphasis on strengthening innovation and improving engineering transformation, highlighting several representative achievements with originality and international prestige in many distinctive research fields. For example, Professor Xiaoming Feng, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, developed a new family of privileged chiral N,N’-dioxide amide ligands and catalysts (The Feng Catalyst), which break the traditional concept of rigid conformation for privileged ligands and have been applied extensively. These research achievements made great impacts home and abroad. In recognition of Prof. Feng’s seminal contributions, the first catalytic asymmetric Roskamp reaction was named as the “Roskamp–Feng reaction” in Elsevier’s book of “Organic Synthesis Based on Name Reactions”, which is the first Organic Name Reaction for local research work in China. Furthermore, Professor Xiaoming Feng has won numerous influential awards, including the State Natural Science Award (second class), the Future Science Prize-Physical Sciences, and a Tan Kah Kee Science Award. As a second example, Professor Yuzhong Wang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, put forward some new flame retardant theories and methods in realizing the high-efficiency condensed-phase flame retardation of halogen-free systems and these intellectual and practical contributions have tackled enormous challenges in traditional flame-retardation theories. The research achievements of Professor Yuzhong Wang led to the development of flame-retardant technologies in China and the world, and they opened up new realms for green flame retardation. Accordingly, Professor Yuzhong Wang’s group has become one of the most internationally influential research groups in the field of flame retardation. The flame-retardant polyester produced using his group’s halogen-free flame-retardant technologies makes up to 80% of global market share. As a result, Professor Wang and his group claimed all three major national awards, namely, the State Natural Science Award, the State Technological Invention Award and the State Scientific and Technological Progress Award.
In the past few years, the Chemistry Discipline at SCU has kept enhancing university-industry cooperation and has constantly promoted industrial development. The CoC at SCU has established an innovation system of university-industry cooperation dedicated to developing industrial generic technologies, key technologies, and forward-looking technologies by providing technical service and consultation for over 50 enterprises each year. For example, the research group led by Prof. Yaoqiang Chen made a major breakthrough in the preparation of catalysts and catalyst-carrier materials for gasoline and diesel fuels for automobile as well as natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles and motorcycles. This discovery broke the monopoly of large global chemical companies, such as BASF Corporation, Johnson Matthey, and Umiore, in China. Based on the research output of Prof. Chen’s group, Sinocat Environmental Technology Co., Ltd. was founded to accelerate the commercialization of scientific and technological achievements with a world-class production line of catalysts for the purification of vehicle exhaust. As a result, the industrialized production of catalysts for the four types of vehicles has been achieved and the catalytic exhaust products have been certified by over 2000 types of vehicles listed in the “Catalogue of Environmentally Friendly Vehicles of China”. The domestic market share of the catalyst for CNG vehicles that meet the Chinese Phase VI Exhaust Emission Standard has reached over 40% and it is ranked first among other catalyst products in China. In addition, its annual turnover reached 3 billion Chinese yuan (CNY) in the year of 2020, and the research findings have been awarded two prizes from Sichuan Scientific and Technological Progress Award. As a second example, Prof. Hua Chen’s group developed sustainable technologies for water-organic two-phase selective hydroformylation of olefins with independent intellectual property rights and they have successfully applied this technology in industry. Toward this end: a demonstration plant with annual yield of 100,000 tons of “higher alcohols synthesized by coal-oil olefins” was constructed based on “the clean technology of synthesizing higher alcohols using higher olefins”, a plant for n-propyl alcohol with annual yield of 40,000 tons was completed based on “the clean technology of preparing propionaldehyde or propanol from the hydroformylation of ethylene”, and a plant for butyraldehyde is under construction based on “the clean technology of compounding butanol and octanol from the hydroformylation of propylene”; the annual yield for this latter plant is estimated to be up to 220,000 tons.
Over the last decade, the Chemistry Discipline at Sichuan University has made remarkable progress in education reform, scientific research, and transformation of engineering and industrial technology. The faculty in the CoC have been awarded over 20 major prizes at national, provincial, or community levels, including two second prizes of China’s State Natural Science Award, a second prize in the State Technological Invention Award, a second prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award, a Future Science Prize-Physical Sciences, a National Innovation Pioneer Award, a Tan Kah Kee Science Award, two prizes of the “Ho Leung Ho Lee” Foundation Prize for Scientific and Technological Progress. By constantly exploring the teaching mode led by excellent research, Professor Xiaoming Feng was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2020, which is the most prestigious prize in higher education since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
During the past five years, faculty in the CoC were awarded many critical research grants and high-impact research programs from national and provincial funding agencies. These include 168 research grants from the NSFC, four Major Programs, and 14 national key projects. It is worth mentioning that the amount of research funding that was granted on each Major Program is over 20 million CNYs and one Major Program for Research on National Major Research Instruments received funding totaling 40.21 million CNYs.
Our faculty have published many high-profile articles. Over 1600 of these original contributions are SCI-listed papers, and at least 180 of them were published in high-impact journals such as Nature, Nature Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, and advanced Materials. Finally, members of our faculty were granted 125 patents for their outstanding discoveries.
5. DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCES OF THE DISCIPLINE
Several characteristic and advantageous sub-disciplines have been formed within the Chemistry Discipline at SCU, including organic chemistry, polymeric chemistry, and radiochemistry. The organic chemistry program at SCU is rated as a National Key Sub-discipline and has made substantial international impact in the research of chiral molecules, C–H bond activation, green synthetic methodology, and supramolecular chemistry. The polymer science program at SCU prides itself as a State Key Laboratory and serving as an international leader in the research on flame-retardant polymer materials. As a National Key Unit of Radiochemistry appointed by the Natural Science Foundation of China, the radiochemistry sub-discipline at SCU is an important base for cultivating outstanding chemists and undertaking scientific research. Moreover, this unique program has incubated two Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Our faculty have served in major academic organizations in China and abroad, such as members of the State Council Discipline Appraisal Group, executive director of the Chinese Chemical Society, director of the Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China, chairman of the Specialized Committee of Chiral Chemistry in Chinese Chemical Society, honorary chairman of the Specialized Committee of Flame Retardation in China Ordnance Society, vice-chairman of the Specialized Committee of Biodegradable Plastics of China Plastics Association, vice-chairman of the National Technical Standardization Committee for Bio-based Materials and Biodegradable Products (SAC/TC380), vice-chairman of the Sub-Committee of Plastics in the National Technical Standardization Committee for Food Contact Materials and Products (TC397/SC6), vice-chairman of the National Teaching Steering Committee of University Chemistry Teaching, member of the Scientific Board of International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3), secretary and chair of the Southwestern China International Chemical Sciences Chapter of the American Chemical Society, associate of the American Chemistry Society International Activities Committee, and others.
Currently, the Chemistry Discipline at Sichuan University is ranked 7th in the global Nature Index (2020 Table), and within the Top 10 in the “Nature Index 2020 Annual Table-Rising Stars in Chemistry”.