Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,
First, let me extend my warmest welcome to you all. It has been an extraordinary year with the COVID-19 disruption. To ensure fruitful semesters ahead, I’d like to remind everyone to continue to prioritize personal health and safety.
This year marks the beginning of my sixth year at ShanghaiTech and my sixteenth year as a professor. A few weeks ago, at a tenure promotion ceremony, Dr. Jiang, President of ShanghaiTech, was asked by our faculty members how to best characterize our School of Information Science and Technology or SIST. Having studied and taught at multiple universities in the US and in China, I was very curious to hear Dr. Jiang’s answer. “In my view, three words: Innovation, Diversity, and Integrity”, said Dr. Jiang. Indeed, to a proud SISTor like me, nothing better characterizes the traits of SIST than these three words.
Innovation: at SIST we always strive to be at the frontiers of scientific and technological innovations, rooted in a solid understanding of the scientific and technological fundamentals. In recent years, we have expanded and deepened our research in artificial intelligence, computer vision, intelligent network, post-Moore microelectronics and integrated circuit, intelligent power and energy systems, automation and robotics, system and security, and smart medicine. In the face of difficulties in the process of doing all those, we remind often ourselves that the process of innovation will be always accompanied by uncertainties and often anxiety, and to prevail, we shall not bury our heads in the sand but directly stare at the challenges in the eye and try to solve the problems step by step. To have courage, faith, and patience is the foundation to innovation.
Diversity and inclusiveness: at SIST, we believe that including people of different backgrounds (e.g., disciplinary training, gender, nationality, region, and social and economic statuses) enriches everyone’s intellectual life on campus, in particular in terms of facilitating the generation of new ideas and new thoughts. This philosophy is best reflected in the distinctively transdisciplinary approach we have adopted to structure SIST: unlike most other computer science and engineering schools, SIST does not have departments but only research centers. We understand that many of today’s scientific and technological challenges, e.g., artificial intelligence, require close teamwork across disciplines and that rigid disciplinary segmentations restrict scientific imaginary and collaboration.
Integrity: doing scientific research is mostly about making “conjectures and refutations” through rigorous experimentations and critical and constructive discussions. Such experimentations and discussions can be carried out in an efficient and effective fashion only when each member of a research team adheres firmly to good work ethics, e.g., being honest and trustworthy, diligent, open-minded, generous, and grateful. I thus call upon all SISTors in their collaborative work to be respectful of other’s effort, to give credit where credit is due, to always be ready to offer help, and not to shy away from asking for help when in need. Nobody shall be left behind at SIST.
Lastly, I want to remind every SISTor that science and technology must be created first and foremost for social good. Real-world applications of science and technology often have economic, social, political, ethical, and moral consequences. They often affect different people differently. Every SISTor must be conscious of the limits of the science and technology they create and know that their science and technology may have both favorable and adverse, both intended and unintended impacts on nature and society.
In short, at SIST we put all our efforts into building a close community with a shared culture that values transparency, active participation, effective communication, mutual respect and support, individuality, curiosity, open mindedness, passion, compassion, generosity, diligence, honesty, and, last but not the least, kindness. (And maybe fun and good humor?) I am confident that SIST is ready to be the home of next-generation leaders in information science, engineering, and businesses. We hope all SISTors will be recognized and valued by society as critical thinkers and audacious dreamers and doers, but first and foremost as responsible and conscientious citizens. Welcome all and thank you for your support.