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NCHU Recruits Yushan Scholars to Expand Teaching and Research Capacity and International Influence

In 2018, the Ministry of Education launched the Yushan Scholar Program to upgrade the salary and provide the rich research resources, recruit the international academic and research talents to come to Taiwan, and expand Taiwan's teaching and research capacity and international influence. Through this project, National Chung Hsing University invited Professor Wilhelm Gruissem of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Professor Charles W. Tu of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to arrive and teach at the university in 2018.

Prof. Wilhelm Gruissem’s Prospective Crop Research and Large-Scale Field Experiment
Prof. Wilhelm Gruissem led a research team jointly set up by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and National Chung Hsing University to test the agronomic traits of the new rice varieties. We use a single locus to improve the iron, zinc and β-carotene content in the rice, and insert the iron and zinc transport, iron storage (nicotianaminesynthase1, ferritin) and β-carotene biosynthesis (carotenedesaturase, phytoenesynthase) genes into the rice genome, to increase the content of iron, zinc and β-carotene in the endosperm. Now they are cooperating with National Chung Hsing University to conduct the large-scale field experiments, and the results show that the content of iron and zinc in the endosperm of the iron-zinc bio-augmented rice has increased significantly. The iron content is as high as 13.9 μg/g DW, which is about 4.2 times higher than the wild type (3.3 μg/g DW), and the zinc content is as high as 50 μg/g DW, which is about 4.2 times higher than the wild type (31.1 μg/g DW). It is proved that the bio-augmented rice can maintain the high iron and zinc content in the field, and this trait can be stably expressed in the field. This study will also introduce the edible rice varieties from countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, or Nigeria. These countries rely on the rice as their staple food and have widespread anemia and iron deficiency.

In addition, Prof. Wilhelm Gruissem also promotes the Cassava Source-Sink (CASS) Project, which is committed to improving the photosynthesis efficiency of the leaves, strengthening the transport capacity of carbohydrate, promoting the conversion of carbohydrate into starch in the storage roots, and increasing the storage root and starch production of the cassava. We are now conducting a closed field experiment with the Agricultural Experimental Station of National Chung Hsing University to evaluate the agronomic traits of the transgenic cassava. The Experimental Station is located in a subtropical climate suitable for the cassava growth and has no history of cassava-related diseases. After 8 months of growing in a field environment, the wild-type cassava variety 60444 and transgenic cassava can grow to 3.5 meters high and have roots of 10 kg. In the field experiments in 2019, 89 independent transgenic cassava lines were tested, and the best agronomic performance lines were selected from them. In 2020, the follow-up field experiments were conducted at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria. Combining the data from the field experiments with the laboratory's biochemical and mitogenetic experiment data, as well as the predictions of the metabolic models, we can further understand and improve the genetic engineering strategies. The new transgenic cassava is currently undergoing the field experiments.

Prof. Charles W. Tu Donated the Salary to Set Up the ENABLE Center to Form a Cross-Field Research Atmosphere
Prof. Charles W. Tu established the Engineering in Agriculture Biotech Leadership Center (ENABLE Center) in National Chung Hsing University in 2018. Prof. Tu resolutely donated NT$2 million salaries a year, with National Chung Hsing University’s NT$8 million a year, which is a total of NT$10 million, together encouraging the cross-field cooperation, nurturing and cultivating the potential cross-field research teams on campus. Since its establishment, the center has subsidized 16 cross-field teams to implement the research projects, with a total of 39 teachers, and a total of 117 students as the principal investigators, published 27 journal papers and 53 seminar papers, and applied for a total of 43 projects from outside.

In the part of enhancing the international reputation of National Chung Hsing University, Prof. Tu has promoted the teachers and students of the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to go to UCSD for international exchanges and cooperation, enhanced the domestic and international academic exchanges, enhanced the research energy and broadened horizons of the students and teachers of National Chung Hsing University. It is necessary and highly effective for Taiwan's academic and industrial circles.

Prof. Tu also matched Prof. Wood-Hi Cheng and Assistant Prof. Chu-Nien Liu of National Chung Hsing University Graduate Institute of Optoelectronic Engineering in collaboration with Prof. Shaya Fainman (UCSD). Prof. Fainman focuses on the research on the development of the silicon photonic chips for the applications in the communications, scanning and laser domains. Recently, Prof. Fainman has successfully developed the silicon chip integrated circuits to complete two miniature LiDAR chips. In this way, the miniature LiDAR chip has the 1D and 2D fast scanning capabilities.

In the academic research section, Prof. Tu and Assistant Prof. Liu also integrated the 2D scanning Optical Phased Array (OPA) technology and 1550 nm Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) applied in the fourth generation of LiDAR to achieve the value creation project of the Ministry of Science and Technology: "1550-nm solid-state LiDAR light engine module for human eye safety development". It is planned to pair up with Taiwan’s cooperative manufacturers to form a strong industry-academy development team, and strive for a place for Taiwan's industry in the international arena.

YuShan Scholar Program Promotional Video
YuShan Scholar Program-Prof. Charles W. Tu