iZJUer - Series of stories丨SUN Ye:Keep Exploring, Forge Ahead


SUN Ye, a 2020 undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Sciences at the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE). She obtained exam-exempted recommendation qualification for the PTN project Ph.D. program of Tsinghua University. 

As an incoming outstanding graduate of Zhejiang Province,  SUN has achieved a breakthrough from average performance to the top ranks.  During the 4 years at ZJE, she received national scholarships, first-class scholarship of Zhejiang University, and second-class scholarship from ZJE. She has been also honoured as an outstanding student and outstanding group leader at Zhejiang University. 

From shrinking back to actively participating in student affairs, she has also served as a part-time counsellor at ZJE, head of the International Campus Youth League Committee office, and member of the Academic Family.

01 Adapting to University life, Striding forward

▲  Biomedical Sciences 2002

Looking back to four years ago when she first entered the campus, SUN also felt that it was a true depiction of "confusion" and "unfamiliarity". Faced with a brand new environment and unfamiliar classmates, she continued to use her high school study methods, only focusing on the slides in class, and was immediately struck a blow. "When I was writing my first ICA (in Course Assessment), because I didn't know how to use the science citation index website, I ended up with only 63 points." She seemed to completely lose her rhythm, with a strong sense of discomfort lingering.

Like many others, she also went through a long period of exploration before gradually finding a study and life routine that suited her. A one-on-one chat with her class advisor, ZJE Assistant Professor LI Xianghua, planted the seed of another possibility for her study life. Prof. LI talked to her, recommend lab platforms based on her research interests, encourage her to step out, and explore the unknown knowledge of the subject. Prof. LI was always there for every students, her meticulous, patient and easy-going attitude encouraged SUN greatly. 

She said, "Looking back, I feel very lucky. I am grateful that I met a group of very friendly faculty members and classmates here. It was their strong support that helped me bravely move forward."

02 Advancements in Scientific Research, Opportunities Ahead

▲Group Photo of Prof. LIU Jian's Research Team

▲Group Photo of Co-First Authors of the Article

▲The Section for Which SUN Ye Responsible in the Published Review Article

Being able to receive the exam-exempted recommendation qualification for Tsinghua University is inseparable from her rich research practice experiences during her undergraduate studies. SUN also considers joining Assistant Professor LIU Jian's team at ZJE as the most significant achievement during her undergraduate years. In the first semester of her sophomore year, SUN and two classmates agreed to team up for the Student Research Training Program (SRTP) and chose to join Prof. LIU's "403 Lab." In Prof. LIU's team, SUN received lots of trust and training. She also independently designed topics, participated in writing protocols, and wrote social media posts for the team, all of which helped enhance her abilities in various aspects.

"The writing of team's social media posts actually greatly helped my research development," SUN said, "Because of writing these posts, I also read a lot of relevant papers and coincidentally became interested in the cutting-edge areas of cytoplasmic DNA sensing. My strong interest in immunology today originated from this."

Since SUN and her teammates designed their research topics on their own, their project was relatively different of the other groups in Prof. LIU's team, which also required a higher level of independent research ability. Through extensive reading, frequent communication and meetings with the supervisor, their SRTP project "Identification of Key Factors in the Cytoplasmic DNA Sensing Pathway in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma" ultimately obtained provincial funded project. Based on this SRTP project, with the support and encouragement of Professor LIU, their paper has successfully published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology (the official journal of the International Union of Immunological Societies, IUIS, IF=7.3).

From being a "novice" with trembling hands holding a pipette to a co-first auther of top-tier paper, SUN grew up rapidly. Additionally, she also did internships at several organizations, such as the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Laboratory of School of Medicine of Zhejiang University,  and the Institute of Immunology at Tsinghua University. The rich laboratory training experiences unknowingly broadened her horizons and trained her abilities.

03 Breaking Learning Barriers, Transforming Like a Butterfly

 ▲ Orientation Volunteer

At the campus, the international education model not only enhanced her English proficiency and nurtured her ability for independent research exploration but also developed her teamwork skills, enabling her to step out of her comfort zone and step onto big platforms and possibilities.

Group projects in the curriculum have also benefited her a lot. Through communication and sharing with group members, she learned a lot of paper writing methods and software. What impressed her deeply was a group presentation assignment in her freshman year. A classmate with strong leadership skills in the team encouraged her to take charge of the critical thinking section. In this process, she started to think about research problems, read extensive papers, tried to ask questions proactively, and strived to find answers. The exhilaration of successfully completing the presentation with the team made her much less timid when facing unknown knowledge.

Research work is never a "one-person battle". In order to complement each other's strengths and motivate one another, SUN gradually initiated "peer reviews" with her friends since her sophomore year. They shared excellent viewpoints and discussed emerging difficulties. With a group of friends who encourage each other and provide sincere advice, her journey of seeking knowledge is no longer lonely.

In addition to the supportive friends around her, enthusiastic seniors, various research seminars, and career guidance opportunities, all strongly supported SUN's growth. "The seniors always willing to shared the experiences sincerely, and the career guidance lecture series ACT lectures provided me with a lot of inspiration," SUN said,"I often refer to these valuable experiences during the interviews of my further study application." Thanks to this, SUN has transformed from someone timid and hesitant to express herself into a person who is now eager to share. Like the seniors, she wants to share all the experiences she has accumulated with those in need.

Diligent in service, Willing to contribute

 ▲ Volunteer Teaching in Ningjin, Hebei

 ▲  Attended the Youth League Congress

From freshman to senior year, SUN Ye actively participated in organizing activities. The Campus also provided many opportunities for student leadership roles, allowing SUN to continuously improve herself.

From starting with no experience in organizing activities to becoming a leader, and later a part-time tutor at ZJE, SUN has taken on more important responsibilities. She hosted numerous ACT lectures and organized various campus activities. Also, as a volunteer teacher in the winter vacation, she shared her college life with children in villages, conducted experiments and taught them English, etc.

 iZJUer Talks

As she approaches the end of her four-year academic journey, SUN Ye described her four years with the words "keep exploring, forge ahead." She didn’t find her own pace at first, but in the four years full of opportunities and challenges, she was exposed to new knowledge, broadened her mind, and created more possibilities. She said, "There are many outstanding peers around me, each of them has their own shining point. Engaging in exchanges with faculty and classmates can bring you more beyond expectations."

At the International Campus, SUN Ye encountered challenges and breakthroughs, and she also gained "courage" and "confidence." In the future, SUN Ye will carry these treasures and strengths forward, continuing to explore the world and contribute to the cause of life and health.


Photography: SUN Ye;

Translation: TAN Ze Yue;

Edting: YONG Yi Sian, LI Yinan, LIU Shuaiyin;

Editing in charge: ZHANG Yi;

Reviewer: YANG Yi