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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Interview with Dr. Chien Hsien Kuo (2013& 2014 Host Professor)



"The collaboration and interaction with foreign students has had a really positive influence on students in Taiwan. It has also provided a great opportunity for foreign students to learn more about Taiwan."

--- Dr. Chien-Hsien Kuo (2013&2014 SIT Host Professor)

1. Introduction of your research institute

The main role of Department of Aquatic Biosciences, National Chiayi University is to support research and education on basic and applied biology of aquatic organisms. For this purpose, it is fundamental to understand the life-history of many organisms and their interactions with the surrounding environment. Based on this knowledge, methods to promote the reproduction and growth of animals and plants as well as for the wise use of natural living resources can be developed.  

My research focuses on two areas:

1) Improved understanding of molecular genomic mechanisms involved in physiology such as sex differentiation among tilapia and development of novel molecular genomic methods to improve culture strain of tilapia.

2) Molecular phylogeny of marine fish.

2. Your Motivation for joining this program for the second time

   There are two main reasons that I would like to join this program (Summer Institute in Taiwan for the second time).

   First of all, I hope through the SIT program, our students could have more opportunities to collaborate with international students. Secondly, I hope students in my lab could learn how to interact with foreign researchers and communicate with them; furthermore, I hope they could learn about foreign students’ working attitude.

      In general, Taiwan students often directly start doing experiments after arriving at the lab. Compared to Taiwan students, American students focus more on paper work. They spend a lot of time collecting samples. Even though they spend a relatively small amount of time at the lab doing experiments, their paper reviews are meticulous. I think my students can learn from them, especially on paper work. I hope that the interaction with foreign researchers could give my students cultural and academic stimulation.


3. What is your expertise or what do you want to give to your host student?

My expert field is molecular phylogeny of fish. The students come to my lab, and they can learn the molecular genetic/genomic techniques, while my lab helps them to collect marine fish samples.  My laboratory also works closely with fish farmers providing applied research to promote and enhance the growing aquaculture industry in Taiwan. Currently we are working with farmers in Southern Taiwan to develop methods to detect the sex of tilapia at an earlier age.

4. Please share us some cooperative experiences with Peter with us

Peter is very self-motivated and knowledgeable about his research field. I always saw him working with his laptop on his desk or discussing his collections with colleagues. My students enjoy working with him. His visit brings nice international experiences to my lab members. I am happy to see my students have courage to talk with Peter in English and assist him. This is great experiences for me and my students. I am very pleased having Peter in my lab this summer. Peter caught 22 species of blennies, 3 were first time captured in Taiwan, making them a critical addition to systematic study of blennies. I feel very happy because this summer, my students learned research collecting in wild field with Peter, and also increased their knowledge of marine organisms. Peter taught my students a lot about fishes, especially blennies. Peter also taught my students a lot about planning research collecting trips. For each trip, Peter gave my students good advice for how to plan trips using references such as historical collections known from museum specimens.

  5. Could you please share with us some of your collaborating experience?

   A: Last year (2013) and this year (2014), we hosted two American graduate students (Josh & Peter). They were really hard-working and paid a lot of attention to what they were doing. Additionally, they were really active. After arriving at my lab, they soon asked me where they could collect good samples. Even after getting back to the US, they asked me whether our lab could help them keep collecting samples in Taiwan. Their coming has had a tremendous effect on my students, showing them that that they need to be more self-motivated. We are really glad to welcome researchers from different universities.

 6. Your feedback for the SIT program

   A: I think it is a great program. I hope Ministry of Science and Technology should keep sponsoring the SIT program. The collaboration and interaction with foreign students has had a really positive influence on students in Taiwan. It has also provided a great opportunity for foreign students to learn more about Taiwan. Many people have experiences that when foreigners see Asian people, or hear the name "Taiwan", they will think of "Thailand". If they learn more about Taiwan, they will realize that there are big differences between Taiwanese culture and Chinese culture. I think it is important to help them learn more about Taiwan.

   7. Point of view of Taiwan from Dr. Kuo’s host students

      They really think that Taiwanese people are very friendly. They didn't feel any pressure while traveling in Taiwan. Wherever they went, they could find someone to help them. After they got back to the US, they told their lab mates that Taiwan is a good place. If they want to collect samples, Taiwan is a good choice as their first stop. I think Ministry of Science and Technology could keep holding this SIT program. The SIT program could increase Taiwan's visibility.

     This year 2013 SIT student, Josh, introduced his lab mate, Peter to participant in 2014 SIT program. Josh also found financial supports for coming to Taiwan to collect samples for two months because Josh had found that the number of species in Taiwan is much more than he had imagined, that's why he wanted to come to Taiwan again and even recommended Peter participating in this program. It is really interesting!

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