Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, the MSA award committee for choosing me as the recipient of this year’s MSA award! I am deeply honored to receive this award as many of its recipients are my role models. I hope my work will satisfy the high standards set forth by my predecessors. This award also gives me an opportunity to thank my mentors and colleagues who helped shape my science over the past 13 years.
I am so happy that Bill McDonough was able to introduce me today. Bill and Roberta were my Ph.D. advisors. They have played a very important role in my career development. I was so lucky to be mentored by both of them. They taught me everything from working in the clean lab and instrumental analysis, to writing and speaking English. They encourage me whenever I need and give me freedom to do my research. I remember whenever I talked about my ideas, Bill always encouraged me and gave me more suggestions while Roberta would say, “Hold on, it is good… but you need get papers published. That is very important too.” They helped me understand how to keep things balanced and enjoy my research. Their mentoring has not only been empowering, but also enjoyable.
When I left Maryland, I thought I would never meet people as nice as Bill and Roberta. I was wrong. My post-doc advisors at Chicago, Frank Richter, Nicolas Dauphas, and Mini Wadhwa are all so nice to me. I was basically paid by them to do whatever I want. At the same time, I learned a lot from them. Although everyone who knows Frank knows this, I was so surprised to see Frank was doing column chemistry in the clean lab for the whole day, from like 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, sitting in front of the hood, as I assumed that members of national academy do not need to work in the lab by themselves. Later I learned that Frank once even did column calibration by himself. I also learned a lot from Nicolas in both science and life during my stay in Chicago. A good lesson I learned from him is that I will not drink beer, wine, and hard liquor with cheese fondue at the same time.
I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas where I started my first job. In particular, I am grateful to Pam Jansma, Glen Mattioli, Ralph Davis, and Dave Stahle for their help. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. Although I have been at UW for only one and a half years, I have been warmly received and generously provided with the support and guidance to build my lab and my own research program. One thing that I should point out is that one of my colleagues at UW, Bernard Evans, was the recipient of MSA award 44 years ago.
I would also like to thank many other people for mentoring, collaboration, and help. Rich Walker and Rick Carlson for serving on my Ph.D. committee and providing much guidance on grant application and paper writing even after I finished my Ph.D. Bruce Watson for writing many letters for me. I still remember that Bruce agreed quickly and wrote a strong letter for my green card application even though I hadn’t had a chance to meet him at that time. I would also like to thank my undergraduate thesis advisor, Shuguang Li, at the University of Science and Technology of China. It was he who strongly recommended me to go to study in Maryland and has been in collaboration with me since then.
Last but not least, I would also like to thank my students, post-docs, and visitors in my lab. I couldn’t have been so productive without them. The list is too long to mention in five minutes. But a few of them are here: Wang-Ye Li, Yan Hu, Corliss Sio, and Xiao-Ming Liu. Shan Ke and Yong-Sheng He submitted abstracts and did all travel arrangements but couldn’t come because of visa problems.
Finally, I thank my wife Jianying. Though trained as a sociologist at Yale, she has gained quite a lot of knowledge on geochemistry and even helped me revise some of my manuscripts. My four-year old son, Billy, provides constant encouragement that daddy is great. I always ask Billy tricky questions such as: who do you like the most, daddy or mommy? Billy always knows the correct answer and always said both except to one question. That is who is smarter? He always says that daddy is smarter. I always enjoy asking why because Billy will always say proudly, “Daddy is a geologist. And you know, a geologist knows everything and is smart.” Thank you!