Westlake Voices: Fang Guo – “Let’s Turn Our Dreams into Reality, Together!”

10, 2021

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At our recent ceremony welcoming our newest PhD students, one of those new students, Fang Guo, took to the podium to speak to his new community.

A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fang told his fellow students four pieces of advice which he tells himself. Cherish your time on campus, engage and communicate with different faculty and students, think deeply about the significance of learning in these times, and be a doer without killing the dreamer in you.

Below is a lightly edited version of the speech that Fang gave at his ceremony, giving insights into the thinking of this entrepreneur-turned-academic and his four pieces of advice.

My name is Fang Guo. I am a new member of Prof. Yue Zhang’s text intelligence laboratory. I am also being jointly trained by Prof. Ling Li as an interdisciplinary student. Through my research, I hope to develop computers to better understand text.

Cherish your time on campus:

Many PhD friends who have graduated tell me that they miss the time they spent doing scientific research while at school, the days of carefree learning and living in order to gain more knowledge. Many people say that the Yunqi Campus of Westlake University is too small, but after two months of school life as a visiting student, I really like the simple and pure life now. Enjoying a mellow coffee at 8am in the café, lunch time with Prof. Zhang and other students, I cherished these times. The gym at 3:30 in the afternoon can be great because there are not many people.

In a fast-growing city like Hangzhou, I am very fortunate to be able to live in a green and quiet place like Zhuantang, enjoying a simple life with scientific research as the focus. It’s a very enriching experience.

Engage and communicate with different faculty and students:

Not long after I arrived at Westlake University, Prof. Zhang asked me to learn how to obtain knowledge from texts to predict protein function and structure, and he also asked me to participate in a project with Thomas Wanger and Xueqing He. Prof. Ling Li introduced me to ideas in hydrological systems and imagined how to make artificial intelligence without the biased views of hydrologists to explore these scientific problems and other related problems. Jiaqi Wang told me that machine learning technology is helping him to screen peptide drugs. Tiannan Guo and Yaoting Sun are also thinking about how to analyse nearly 200,000 papers on COVID-19 to find the underlying laws and trends.

While I lamented that Iknew too little, I was also extremely shocked by this active collision of interdisciplinary subjects. This was something I had never imagined before I came here, and it is only at a small and focused university like Westlake that this is possible. A university that nurtures an atmosphere of cooperation and innovation.

Think deeply about the significance of learning in these times:

It is precisely pioneering initiatives made by generations of scientists that have led the development of human society. I hope that during my Ph.D. years, I will try to emulate past pioneers in science, learn their spirit, and strive to make my own innovations in my field.

Be a doer without killing the dreamer in you:

I believe that the teachers and students here, like me, are carrying their own dreams. It is the seeds of these dreams which have called us here. I think the reason why dreams are fascinating is that with them, countless impossibilities have the opportunity to become possible. I hope that a few years from now, I can proudly say to myself that Fang Guo, when he was studying for his Ph.D., no matter what difficulties and obstacles he encountered, he continued to dream bravely.