Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Release date: June 20, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
U.S.-Sino workshop MTSU contact: Dr. Diane Miller, 615-898-2329


(MURFREESBORO) — Mathematical sciences professor Xiaoya Zha and management and marketing associate professor Jinfeng Yue share a common thread in their roles as translators for the June 22-27 U.S.-Sino Workshop on Mathematics and Science Education.
Co-hosted by MTSU and Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, People’s Republic of China, the invitation-only workshop will have the central theme of “Identifying Common Priorities that Promote Collaborative Research.”
“Every Chinese faculty member here feels obligated (to help),” Zha said.
“It is my honor and my duty to help the progress in this conference,” Yue added.
Obviously, when you merge 50 Chinese higher-education people with 75 from the United States — and math and science are the subject matters — communication could be a problem.
That’s where Zha, Yue and a dozen or so faculty members and students enter the picture. They will serve as translators.
Yue will even enlist the services of his son David, 10, and daughter Cynthia, 7.
“Both speak both languages,” Yue said. “They can help and learn from a conference. This opportunity will give them an impression of how the whole conference is running.”
“This is a very important event for both co-hosting universities and both countries that is being partially funded by the National Science Foundation,” said Dr. Diane Miller, interim vice provost for academic affairs and MTSU co-chair for the U.S.-Sino workshop along with Northwest Normal Vice President Deng Hualing.
“While the workshop's language will be English, organizers realize that the visiting Chinese scholars will have varying degrees of proficiency in English,” Miller added. “The volunteers will help ensure that the Chinese scholars can fully participate in and benefit from all meetings and events.”
In addition to Zha and Yue, who hold doctorates from Ohio State and Washington State University, respectively, Miller said other faculty members have volunteered to serve as translators and to transport Chinese participants from and to the airport in Nashville. They are Drs. Wandi Ding, Don Hong and Liping Zhang (math); Chong Chen and Yang Zhifu (engineering technology); Amy Xia and Thomas Li-Ping Tang (management and marketing); and Zhijiang Dong (computer science).
Miller said two graduate students, Jia “Grace” Xiaohua and Rong “Joann” Wang, also are helping her with the project and arranging for a few Chinese students to offer their expertise during the week. Wang said she helped translate for both MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Northwest Nornal’s president in 2007 when McPhee visited China.
Zha said he is glad to see this math-science collaboration between MTSU and this university from his native country.
“MTSU is doing so much more with undergraduate research, starting Ph.D. programs and the promotion of the research,” he said. “The research level is certainly different than 10 years ago. It has provided many opportunities for faculty to develop themselves. This (collaboration) is purely international. It's kind of unique.”
Yue said collaborations like this could enhance exchange programs.
“We could exchange faculty and students, and they also could send faculty to MTSU,” he said. “In business programs, we're also looking for opportunities for joint programs in China so we can bring our MBA experience to China.”
Grad student Xiaohua will bring familiarity to the workshop. The math education major is an exchange student from Northwest Normal.
“I will be a contact to the Chinese participants, providing workshop information to them and helping them get to MTSU successfully,” said Xiaophua, who added that she knows eight Chinese faculty, including her major director, making the trip. “I will be more involved while the Chinese group is here that entire week.”
Xiaophua said she will return to China in August and hopes to graduate from NNU in December before embarking on a teaching career.
The opening gala dinner will be held in the James Union Building’s Tennessee Room at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 22. U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon, an MTSU alumnus, will deliver the opening address.
During the week, four plenary lectures and 48 topic session papers will be given by scholars from both nations. Miller said participants will be divided into working groups to identify common priorities promoting collaborative research.
The event is being funded by the National Science Foundation, Texas Instruments and MTSU’s Offices of the President, Executive Vice President and Provost, Vice Provost for Research, the Colleges of Basic and Applied Sciences and Education and Behavioral Science, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the Tennessee Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Center, and businessman and alumnus Paul W. Martin Jr.

For MTSU news and information, go to mtsunews.com.

Media welcomed.

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