2024 Academic Excellence Award winners revealed

10 Jul 2024

On 2 July, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University announced the eight winners of this year’s Academic Excellence Awards.  

This is the second year of the Academic Excellence Awards. These awards grew out of the XJTLU Learning and Teaching Awards, which had been given from 2013. This year, a new category – the Early-Career Researcher Award – was added to recognise the contributions of those early in their research careers. 

Five of this year’s eight awards went to academics from the School of Advanced Technology. 

All-Round Academic Excellence Award – Professor Eng Gee Lim, School of Advanced Technology 

Of the eight awards, the All-Round Academic Excellence Award is the highest honour and recognition for academic staff who have made outstanding contributions to teaching and research. 

This year’s recipient, Professor Eng Gee Lim, is one of XJTLU’s leading academics in the field of artificial intelligence research. He joined XJTLU in 2007 and has held several key leadership positions. He is currently the Dean of the School of Advanced Technology at XJTLU. 

He says: “Winning the All-Around Academic Excellence Award means so much to me. It’s a validation of my hard work and dedication, and being recognised by the University for my achievements fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.” 

Teaching Excellence Award – Dr Thomas Selig, School of Advanced Technology 

Dr Thomas Selig, Assistant Professor at the Department of Computing, is the Programme Director of MRes Computer Science. Last year, he was voted Best Teacher by the School’s Year Three students.  

He says: “I feel proud and deeply honoured to receive this award from our University. I appreciate XJTLU’s commitment to enhancing our students’ learning experience, and it’s great to have my own contribution towards those goals recognised through this award.” 


Teaching Innovation Award – Dr Linjia Zhang, International Business School Suzhou 

Dr Linjia Zhang, who joined XJTLU in 2017, is currently the Programme Director of MSc Business Analytics. He has been commended for using gamification in teaching international political economy. 

He says: “As educators, teaching is our foremost duty and the foundation of higher education. I am deeply grateful for the University’s recognition of my efforts in pushing the frontier of pedagogical innovation in Economics and broader business disciplines.” 

Research Excellence Award – Dr Rui Yang, School of Advanced Technology 

Dr Rui Yang, Associate Professor in the Department of Intelligent Science, has published an academic monograph with CRC Press and over 90 research papers, including one ESI Hot Paper and two Highly Cited Papers.  

He says: “I am truly honoured and humbled to have been chosen among so many talented and deserving researchers. I am also grateful to my colleagues and the University for their unwavering support throughout my research journey.” 


Early-Career Researcher Award – Dr Xi Yang, School of Advanced Technology 

Dr Xi Yang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Intelligent Science, is the inaugural winner of the Early-Career Research Award. Her contributions span computer vision, domain generalisation, and medical imaging, and she has been published in top-tier conferences and journals.  

She says: “This award is not just mine, but belongs to our entire research team, reflecting our collective spirit of innovation and perseverance. I am grateful for the recognition from the University and the supportive research environment provided by the School of Advanced Technology.” 


Research Supervision Award – Dr Chun Zhao, School of Advanced Technology 

Dr Chun Zhao, Senior Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, has successfully supervised nine doctoral and over 15 master’s students to completion.  

His supervision has led to securing 6.56 million RMB in external funding for ongoing projects and 3.18 million RMB in funding for completed projects. He has also received accolades such as the Suzhou Outstanding Teacher Award. 

Teaching Technician Award – Zhida Wang, School of Film and TV Arts 

Zhida Wang is a Senior Technician at the School of Film and TV Arts and has helped ensure the smooth running of the laboratories in the School for the past two years.  

He says: “If the work of writers, directors, videographers and editors is behind the scenes, the work of SOFTA’s technicians is behind them. This award is not an honour for me alone, but for the efforts of all the technicians, who have always stood firmly behind SOFTA teachers and students.” 

Teaching Assistant Award – Ziwen Xie, School of Science 

During his four-year PhD at the Department of Biological Science, Ziwen Xie has actively served as a teaching assistant and a research consultant and experimental coach for XJTLU’s iGEM team, contributing to securing three gold medals. 

He says: “I am very honoured and happy to receive this award, which is inseparable from the cooperation of professors, students and technical support team. I am especially grateful to XJTLU and the Department of Biological Sciences for the opportunities and support they have provided me.” 

This year, the Academic Affairs and Systems Office received a total of 78 nominations from 20 academic units, and the selection of the winners began in February. Winners will be officially awarded at the graduation ceremony later this month. 


By Patricia Pieterse and Luyun Shi
Edited by Catherine Diamond 

10 Jul 2024


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