Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University officially released the names of this year’s seven winners of the Academic Excellence Awards on 5 July.

The awards are an evolution of the XJTLU Learning and Teaching Awards, which have been given out since 2013. This year’s awards honour significant contributions to research and impact, teaching and learning, and teaching assistance.

The winners are:

 

All-Round Academic Excellence: Professor Li Yang, School of Science

The All-Round Academic Excellence Award, granted to Professor Li Yang, honours educators who excelled in all areas, such as learning and teaching, research, and scholarship.

Professor Yang, who joined XJTLU in 2013, has obtained over 7.5 million RMB in funding for various research projects, currently has 11 enrolled PhD students, and has published 27 papers since 2018.

She says: “All-round academic excellence has been the goal of my career. I appreciate being recognised for my achievement, endeavour and commitment, but also acknowledged for the hard work I have done in my time at XJTLU.”

 

Teaching Excellence: Dr Yanning Huang, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

This award recognises educators who have achieved excellent teaching outcomes, both inside and outside the classroom.

Dr Yanning Huang, this year’s winner, has received a great deal of praise for his engaging teaching methods, such as using current events to make lessons more relevant to students.

He says: “I feel really rewarded that my dedication to teaching is recognised by the University. I’m grateful for the support from the leaders of my department and School, and all the students who have emailed me, texted me and sent me cards with heartwarming words.”

 

Teaching Innovation: Dr Xiangyun Lu, International Business School Suzhou

The Teaching Innovation Award aims to honour educators who innovate by harnessing new technologies or shifts in curriculum development.

This year’s award went to Dr Xiangyun Lu for her work using Python to enhance her Accounting curriculum, employing ChatGPT for a Q&A bot for students, and creating an auto-marking robot for lessons on the Sage program, which reduced marking time from 20 hours to 10 minutes and improved accuracy.

She says: “The enriching environment, extensive resources, and vision of the University and IBSS have empowered me to dream big and persistently explore innovative teaching methodologies.”

 

Research Excellence: Dr Yi Zou, School of Science

The Research Excellence Award recognises academic staff who have made considerable contributions in the areas of research, research impact and research output.

This year’s award went to Dr Yi Zou, whose work on biodiversity has been recognised in the local and international media. Since joining XJTLU in 2016, he has published 48 peer-reviewed papers, three of which were “hot” or “highly cited”.

He says: “This award underscores my commitment to furthering the understanding of ecology and pursuing solutions for the trade-off between biodiversity conservation and human development.”

 

Research Supervision: Professor Yong Yue, School of Advanced Technology

This award is granted to outstanding supervisory support and research leadership.

Professor Yong Yue, the recipient of this year’s award, has supervised or co-supervised 32 PhD students across disciplines and was instrumental in developing the Suzhou Municipal Key Laboratory for Intelligent Virtual Engineering.

He says: “This is an honour not just for me but for my greater team of colleagues and students for their effective effort. I am very grateful for all the support at XJTLU, which is growing quickly in both reputation and size.”

 

Teaching Technician: Lu Wang, XJTLU Wisdom Lake Academy of Pharmacy

This award honours teaching technicians who have provided mentoring and support to students.

This year, Lu Wang has been recognised for her contributions to the efficiency and design of the pharmacy lab classes, as well as her work on the hands-on experimental camp project organised by the Academy, which attracted nearly 200 people from inside and outside the school.

She says: “It is my great honour to win this award, which is not only an affirmation of my personal work but also a reflection of the vigorous development of the Academy of Pharmacy.”

 

Teaching Assistant: Enakshi Sivasudhan, School of Science

This category recognises the contributions of Master’s and PhD students who serve as teaching assistants, guiding other students.

Since joining XJTLU five years ago, Enakshi Sivasudhan has assisted 12 undergraduate students with their final-year projects. She has been lauded for her approachability and high-quality feedback, helping students overcome steep learning curves.

She says: “I’m incredibly honoured to receive this award and grateful to XJTLU and the Department of Biological Sciences for providing me with opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. It’s an absolute pleasure being part of a team of dedicated faculty staff, students, and fellow teaching assistants.”

 

This year, the Academic Affairs and Systems Office received a total of 61 nominations, and the selection of the winners began in February. Winners will be officially honoured at the graduation ceremony later this month.

Professor Zhoulin Ruan, Vice President of Academic Affairs at XJTLU, says: “Congratulations to each award-winning teacher and student for their achievements, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to XJTLU.”

By Patricia Pieterse, Yiyun Wang and Luyun Shi

Edited by Xinmin Han

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