Emeritus Professor receives top Chinese honour

An Emeritus Professor from the University of Nottingham has been given one of China’s highest academic honours having been made a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE).

Professor Don Grierson has been awarded the prestigious honour in recognition of his international work in plant biology that has spanned four decades, and his ongoing support and contribution to the enhancement of agricultural and plant science in China.

New academics are selected for this prestigious fellowship every two years from academic institutions, research institutes, enterprises and hospitals, both inside and outside China. Selection is based on their contribution to the development of, or role in promoting China’s engineering. agriculture and technology.

Professor Grierson spent over 40 years at the University of Nottingham where he was the founding head of the School of Biosciences before becoming Pro Vice Chancellor from 2003-2007.

His work focused on deciphering the regulation of fruit ripening at a molecular level as well as his pioneering work in the discovery and use of RNAi interference. His laboratory was involved in creating a genetically modified tomato in the 1980s which softened and deteriorated more slowly; a tomato puree made from these tomatoes was the first genetically modified food to be sold in the UK and approved for sale on both sides of the Atlantic. In recent years Professor Grierson has worked with a number of Chinese scientists, helping them to establish strong research groups in molecular plant biology.

Contribution to science in China

He paid his first visit to China in 2002 and has been going regularly since 2011 and is now a part-time professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and a visiting professor at Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu, Shanxi Province.

He is also a managing editor for a new Chinese Journal: Frontiers in Agricultural Science and Engineering, which is published in association with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and China Agricultural University.

Bright future

Professor Grierson says: “I feel very honoured to receive this recognition, working in China gives me the opportunity to continue my involvement in science and it is great fun working with clever, committed people. China’s scientific influence is developing very fast and it’s an exciting time to be involved in research here. With a strong work ethic from students, experienced and ambitious academics and buoyant funding there is a bright future for scientific research in China.”

Since he started regular visits to China 6 years ago, Professor Grierson has published over 25 papers in international journals with Chinese colleagues and has been acknowledged for helping with the writing and editing of an additional 30 papers. Several of his former PhD students who worked with him at Sutton Bonnington are also now professors at Chinese universities.

China has invested heavily in scientific development in recent years, as it seeks to become a global scientific powerhouse.

The academy’s selection of foreign members is part of this effort to strengthen China’s presence and influence in engineering. and technology, the organisation said on its website.

Professor Grierson continues; “Science thrives on exchanging information, opinions and results and I try to bring together Chinese academics and potential international collaborators. I’m also keen to showcase the work of ZJU through my science network and on a wider international stage. Through these activities I hope to help build reputation and influence and strengthen international co-operation.”