Celebrating Highly Cited Researchers: National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers™ are based at more than 1,300 institutions across the globe. In this interview series, we find out how various institutions support their Highly Cited Researchers. We ask how they encourage collaboration, facilitate career growth and accelerate highly innovative research.

Today, we speak with National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan.


Can you tell us about your 2021 Highly Cited Researchers?

Prof. Jo-Shu Chang is the Chair Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at NCKU. In 2004, way before the greenhouse effect became a major focus and the concept of the circular economy emerged, Chang published the world’s first research paper on a zero-carbon emission biomass energy production system that uses microalgae as a carbon sink. In the last decade, Chang’s papers attracted attention when carbon fixation became an issue of greater prominence for researchers worldwide. To date, Chang’s microalgae-related findings have been cited more than 10,000 times.

Prof. Wei-Hsin Chen is the Distinguished Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at National Cheng Kung University. He has been recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher in the field of engineering for six consecutive years, which is a first in Taiwan’s academic community. Before Chen entered the field of biomass torrefaction research, both the academic and industrial sectors did not possess sufficient knowledge or technology in this area. Chen’s influence throughout the decade is well known. He has published roughly 4% of all papers on torrefaction and his research accounts for about 10% of the citations in this field, which is a significant contribution.

Prof. Tay-Rong Chang is only 39 years old and a rising star in physics. He once published five papers in Nature and its associated journals within a year, earning him international acclaim. So far, he has published around 20 papers and been cited internationally over 5,000 times. In 2018, with continued support from the university, he was selected as a scholar of the Columbus Program by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

Dr. Wen-Chien Ko is an infectious disease specialist and Deputy Superintendent of the NCKU Hospital. In January 2021, he planned and guided the erection of the prefab COVID-19 Screening Station with Dr. Nan-Yao Lee, Director of the Infectious Disease Control Center, to help the screening go smoothly. He is fully devoted to frontline medical services and plays an important role in COVID-19 prevention. He has also participated in multiple COVID-19 related research projects and his work has brought significant insights into combating the pandemic. He is not only an outstanding researcher in his field but also a highly active expert in on-site clinical activities.


Why do you think Highly Cited Researchers choose your institution over others?

As outlined above, we have four faculty teachers who received this award in 2021. They have been working in domestic academia within NCKU for a long period of time. They focus on teaching, research, and creating a positive impact on their discipline. NCKU has long focused on providing our scholars with a stable academic research environment, supported by our policies and infrastructure.

In today’s competitive academic environment, it is possible to overemphasize the importance of immediate results and performance. However, we hope that through our annual financial funding competition, our scholars can develop their long-term scientific research without any funding restrictions.

In the past, researchers and scholars might focus and concentrate on their own research field within their own laboratories. Following the inauguration of Dr. Su as President of NCKU, however, there is a renewed effort to build an ideas exchange platform for scholars across different disciplines. During the gatherings, scholars can share their experiences and expertise from different perspectives. Through this rewarding and inspirational opportunity, we believe that NCKU has provided an enriched atmosphere of research.


How does your institution promote the Highly Cited Researchers who work there?

As mentioned previously, as one of the top universities in Taiwan, NCKU endeavors to provide efficient and effective support, first-class facilities and a comprehensive environment for our researchers.

As for research funding, these researchers are provided with secure, long-term research funding from NCKU. Therefore, their research will not be stalled by any funding concerns or external uncertainty, such as COVID-19. With this funding, they are encouraged to study innovative research topics.

Over the past few decades, we have been fostering partnerships among researchers by expanding their networks and encouraging international collaboration. On top of that, we emphasize the connections not only within academia but also within industry, government and even society. We believe that innovation only happens when ideas combine. That is exactly how we benefit from the various perspectives resulting from global partnerships.

“We believe that innovation only happens when ideas combine. That is exactly how we benefit from the various perspectives resulting from global partnerships.”

In recent years, we have also tried to publicize our research findings systematically. We hope that our researchers will be recognized but more importantly, we want to inform and create a bridge that connects our researchers, our society and the general public.

With seed funding, an open platform, and an invaluable network offered within NCKU, we wish to serve as a hub that provides enormous opportunities for researchers to expose their research, increase visibility, and reinforce research partnerships.


What value do you see in the Highly Cited Researchers program?

First of all, we believe the Highly Cited Researchers program truly reflects the core value of each university to develop frontier research for the betterment of society. With this program, the research community and public can better understand who these researchers are, what their research is about, and which institutions they are affiliated with.

Secondly, as Highly Cited Researchers, they are recognized as the true pioneers in their fields. Their highly cited papers are a significant achievement, demonstrating the high-quality, innovative research they are publishing in their field.


Read the executive summary for a deeper understanding of the researchers on the Highly Cited Researchers list and the institutions that support them. You can also read the other interviews in our series, here.