From Europe to China: Learning a New Scientific Culture with CAS

Date:06-12-2019   |   【Print】 【close

I arrived in China in 2014. At the time, I was just finishing my thesis, in Marseille, France, in the field of integrative neurosciences, on the theme of optical imaging recording of the primary visual cortex in awake primate.

Like any fresh graduate, I was looking for a post-doc to continue my scientific career, although it must be admitted that at the time I was still asking myself many questions: Where to go? Should I continue in academia or in a company? It should be noted that the competition for a permanent position in Europe was extremely tough at the time, and is even tougher now.

Finding a good lab was essential. The overwhelming majority of young doctors therefore went on to do a post-doc in another European country, the United States or Japan. Yet, I told myself, China was a country experiencing rapid growth in quality research, a country with which there were more and more international collaborations.

By becoming one of the first European researchers to work in China, I wanted to build strong bridges between China and Europe. It is with this in mind that I sent an unsolicited application to Prof. WANG Liping at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Prof. WANG kindly agreed to take me on as a post-doc.

 

 Quentin is giving a lecture to the research scholars in SIAT. (Image by SIAT)

That was six years ago, and since then I have seen with my own eyes that research in China is at an excellent level, with a plethora of resources and opportunities. In the laboratory I was able to learn optogenetics and calcium imaging, two methods I now use daily. I also discovered the neurosciences of behavior and emotions, main thematic of the team where I was welcomed, and which I particularly like.

Obviously, I was able to acquire a lot of data from SIAT and more particularly from BCBDI (Brain Cognition and Brain Disorder Institute of SIAT ), data that were subject to publication, many of which are in the process of being written. I also learned a lot, especially by discovering other working methods and ways of thinking than those I learned in France.


 

Quentin standing in the front of the gate of SIAT.  (Image by SIAT)

At the same time, it should be noted that it is difficult for a foreigner to come and work in China. Everything can be summed up in a few words: the language barrier, and culture shock. Fortunately, I was able to meet friends at SIAT who helped me to get by and better understand the Chinese organization. They are real friends, with whom I like to work, debate science, and spend time.

At restaurant.  (Image by SIAT)

In short, these years in China have served as an introduction to a different and high-quality scientific culture, a renewal of my scientific approach: this Sino-European hybridization has made me a perfect link between these two parts of the world. 

Thus, after a few years, I was able to begin to play the role I had set for myself: that of helping to build strong bridges between the scientific institutions of several countries. Obviously, this was the case with France and its prestigious institutions, the CNRS and INRA, and also with Australia.

I have had the pleasure of participating in the development of ambitious collaboration projects, and humbly helping to foster mutual understanding between the institutions and teams of the two countries.

It is a flexible and efficient organization, in which I'm very pleasant to work and to try doing ambitious things. I look forward to seeing where these exchanges between SIAT and these foreign institutions will lead, and to continuing my work with the CAS. 

Quentin (first from left) and Dr. Wang Liping (third from left)’s team of the Brain Cognition and Brain Disease Institute.  (Image by SIAT)