Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) yesterday presented research awards to 136 academics at a ceremony in Taipei, during which an academic expressed concern about the decline of domestic research in the face of China’s rise in academia.
Fourteen academics received the Merit MOST Research Fellow Award, 78 were given the Outstanding Research Award and 44 received the Ta-You Wu Memorial Award, which is awarded to those aged under 42.
Wu Ta-you (吳大猷), who died in 2000, was the first director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Physics.
About one-quarter of the recipients work in the field of biomedicine and another one-quarter work in engineering, Chen said in response to media queries before the ceremony, adding that research in humanities and other fundamental sciences are equally important.
Representing the recipients of the Merit MOST Research Fellow Award, National Chiao Tung University environmental engineering professor Huang Chih-pin (黃志彬) in a speech warned about the decline of research in the nation.
Taiwanese academics used to care more about receiving funding and publicity, but their research seldom addressed social problems, he said.
Fortunately, the Ministry of Science and Technology has identified key research areas for funding, which would help academics connect with social issues, he said.
However, China’s increasing academic output have affected the research energy of other Asian nations, so Taiwanese researchers should closely follow their Chinese peers’ progress and surpass their accomplishments, Huang said.
Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History researcher and director Lu Miaw-fen (呂妙芬), representing recipients of the Outstanding Research Award, expressed regret over the decline of Chinese history studies in Taiwan.
As the number of local historians has not significantly increased over the past few years, relatively new domains, such as world history and Taiwanese history, have attracted more researchers, she said.
While not attributing the shift to political factors, Lu said it is a pity that the nation’s strength in Chinese history studies is weakening, adding that Chinese history is an important part of world history.
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