China News Agency, Shanghai, October 6th, title: "Chinese students" talk about Nobel Prize winner Sharpless: He is very good, but very humble
China News Agency reporter Zheng Yingying
"He (Tutor Sharpless) is very good, but very humble. He always says that he doesn't know what he doesn't know, and he is very humble." In an exclusive interview with a reporter from China News Agency four years ago, "Chinese students" Dong Jiajia once commented on his mentor, Nobel Prize winner K. Barry Sharpless.
Four years later, when it comes to the mentor who won the Nobel Prize twice, the word that hangs in Dong Jia's mouth is still the word - modesty.
On the afternoon of October 5th, Beijing time, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be awarded to American scientists Caroline Bertozzi, Karl Barry Sharpless and Danish scientist Morten Meldahl. For their contributions to the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.
Sharpless, 81, won the Nobel Prize again after 21 years, becoming the fifth person to win the Nobel Prize twice.
When Dong Jiajia made a video call with Sharpless in the United States in the early morning of Beijing time on the 6th, he felt that the tutor was very calm, no different from usual.
There is another "Nobel Prize" on the "Nobel Prize Mentor". As a student, Dong Jiajia joked in an interview with a reporter from China News Agency, "This is really the 'tragedy' of my life. Others still have the opportunity to surpass the mentor. I may never No chance."
Dong Jiajia stayed in Professor Sharpless's laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute in the United States for 6 years. In 2015, he returned to China and became a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2022, he transferred to Shanghai Jiaotong University to become the A tenured professor at the School of Translational Medicine.
The tutor has always encouraged Dong Jiajia to surpass him (the tutor).
"He is very humble, and he often says that there are a lot of things he didn't expect." Dong Jiajia said.
In 2019, a paper by Dong Jiajia as the corresponding author was selected as one of the top ten outstanding papers in Nature ("Nature") that year, which revealed that a chemical library for drug discovery can be synthesized by double-clicking.
"He (mentor Sharpless) didn't expect it, otherwise he would do it himself. He was very happy (I had a new discovery) and pushed me to publish this article together." Dong Jiajia said.
When the reporter asked Dong Jiajia, does his mentor Sharpless have a next goal after winning the Nobel Prize for the second time?
Dong Jiajia retorted that scientific research has no goals, it is a process of searching, "Once the (specific) direction of scientific research is determined, it is basically 'dead'. Science is a very 'ironic' thing, what you study is You want to know, but you're doing things you don't know or don't know yet, and that's what makes sense."
In addition to attracting attention, the annual Nobel Prize events also make people look forward to when Chinese scientists will rise on the "Nobel Prize stage".
Dong Jiajia said that our country used to focus on cultivating technical workers. Personally, I don’t think this should be too rushed, and give China a little more time and patience. In fact, we have many smart and capable young people who need luck and a scientific research evaluation system that encourages more originality.”
Serendipity, translated into Chinese, means "accidentally discovered new things".
Dong Jiajia said, this is the word Sharpless taught him, "serendipity and creative discovery (creative discovery) are twin brothers."
"Attention and curiosity, he (mentor) has both, and he is always looking for new things that excite him." Dong Jiajia said.
In 2001, Sharpless shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other scientists for his achievements in the field of chiral catalytic oxidation reactions.
But at the awards ceremony, he talked about "click chemistry" that had nothing to do with winning the award at the time.
He once told the media: "My ideas that don't work can always inspire more ideas, and the word failure has been deleted from my mental lexicon. If I say, I have more unexpected discoveries than most chemists. , that's because I'll try everything I can."
Dong Jiajia said that people who are engaged in science, as his mentor Sharpless said, need to embrace "uncertainty" and enjoy the process of discovery very much.
He still keeps the newspaper clipping given by his mentor - a report on "Six-horned Dinosaur", "There really is this creature, it looks like it has six ears, and I use it to remind myself: What strange things in the world Everything is there." (End)