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Class of 2018 Graduate Huang Rongpeng: An Adventurous and Knowledgeable World Traveler


At the SUSTech’s Earth Day Photography Contest, Huang Rongpeng and her partner delivered a stunning presentation despite having to speak first and break the ice in the crowd. Eventually, they won the grand prize because of their high-quality photos and the experience of traveling across five continents.


Rongpeng made another stunning appearance at SUSTech’s Summa Cum Laude Graduates Award Ceremony. Again, she overcame the disadvantage of being the first presenter and was one of the Top 10 Graduates of Class of 2018.


Huang Rongpeng seems to have a history of starting first and achieving first place, with her ranking first in her major courses, and her team receiving the grand prize at the 2017 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM), being among just some of her achievements. Coming from Xuancheng (Anhui Province) with a rich history and calligraphy culture, Rongpeng has embarked on multiple academic exchanges in North America and the United Kingdom, and traversed numerous islands, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, and volcanoes. It is highly likely that she was also the first SUSTecher to achieve these missions, but not the last.


Be Active and Set the Goals Early

Huang Rongpeng has long been a lover of environmental science, geography, and geology. She likes to spend her spare time sketching and taking photos, which led to her being conditionally admitted to the Landscape Architecture undergraduate program at Beijing Forestry University. However, she chose to come to SUSTech despite the university not having the School of Environmental Science and Engineering (SESE) at that time. With her general course ranking at No.2, she was nominated for the National Scholarship and planned to study biology at SUSTech.


Fortunately, SESE was founded after Rongpeng’s first year at SUSTech. Upon hearing the exciting news, Rongpeng personally came to the office of SESE Dean Zheng Chunmiao with her academic transcript from the University of British Columbia’s summer program. “Professor Zheng had only reported to SUSTech a few days earlier. His office didn’t even have a sign, but I couldn’t wait to talk to him and express my interest in the environmental science program. Professor Zheng was shocked that a student would ever visit him, considering the school he worked for was not officially open back then.” Huang Rongpeng was the first student ever to visit SESE, and Professor Zheng was more than happy to see her join SESE. They clicked right away and became long-term academic partners in the following years.


More interestingly, Rongpeng once attended a lecture on the virtual water economy by Professor Liu Junguo from Beijing Forestry University; the university Rongpeng almost went to. She highly admired Professor Liu’s works and talent, and she was thrilled to find Professor Liu joining SUSTech a year later and becoming her academic advisor.


After officially embarking on the academic journey of environmental science, Huang Rongpeng felt more motivated than ever and worked tirelessly on numerous projects. She collaborated with the Society for Wildlife and Nature (S.W.A.N.) on the endangered black-faced spoonbill’s habitat choices and migration routes and was directly involved in the research, survey, and writing of Shenzhen’s water pollution control project. She also accompanied Queen Rania of Jordan on a visit to OCT Wetland and told the queen about this environmental restoration project.


Rongpeng loves SUSTech’s education model: “The university doesn’t control students with sets of disciplines and regulations. The policies here are practical and student-friendly. I don’t need to officially report to anyone before leaving a building for other experiments. I just need to let my advisor know. Because of SUSTech’s considerate policy, I have more time for academic self-improvement.” As a result, her project “Studying the Behavioral Psychology of Caenorhabditis Elegans with Optofluidics,” was published as a conference paper at the International Optofluidics and Interdisciplinary Science Conference and received multiple awards and nominations at the 2017 iGEM.


As the first student of SESE, she graduated with top academic ranking in the school while participating in three years’ of laboratory work in biology, which again proves her track record of “starting first and achieving first place.”


Venture out into the World with Rich Knowledge

To read great books and do great travels has been the ultimate goal of Chinese intellects throughout history. Huang Rongpeng’s past few years has been a living example of this ancient Chinese motto. Rongpeng’s passport features plenty of visas and stamps from her travels crossing five continents to satiate her wanderlust.


Rongpeng has participated in academic exchange programs three times as a student representative. During the summers, she has studied at the University of Oxford, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of British Columbia (UBC). She also embarked on field trips on disaster prevention of U.S. soil and underground water.


Based on her rich traveling experience, she delivered a speech at Shude Residential College on how to travel in style and on a budget during college years. Besides sharing her experience, she also taught the audience geological and geographical knowledge.


Rongpeng did not let her extensive travels affect her academic performance. She always combines her travel experience with her academic knowledge. In other words, her travels are a way for her to review the knowledge learned in class. Every time a certain kind of landscape is mentioned in class, Rongpeng would give examples she saw during her travels. “I am easily bored if I stay in one place for too long. I need wanderlust to relax and learn, and I hope this can be my way of life in the future.”


On the road, Rongpeng likes taking pictures to capture unforgettable moments. Her photos have earned her numerous awards on campus and even made it to the official website of National Geographic. When she was the chief editor of campus magazine Zhengfeng, she published multiple stories on her own travel experience, phytology knowledge, and ancient folk houses in Huizhou, Anhui Province. She has also designed illustrations for books, academic posters for the university, and logo for her residential college.


At SUSTech’s 2018 Summa Cum Laude Graduates Contest, Rongpeng didn’t hesitate to declare her interest in working at National Geographic. She believes she has what it takes to receive the job offer. Her confidence and diverse hobbies contribute to the acceptance letters she received from four world-class universities, and she eventually chose the Earth and Environmental Sciences Master’s Program at UBC.


Do What You Like, and You Can Have It All

The colorful life usually belongs to those who are willing to work hard and fight, including Huang Rongpeng. Her schedule is always extremely tight: the day after taking the GRE test last summer, Rongpeng took an intercontinental long-haul flight to Boston for the iGEM Competition. Many wonder how she could do it all, and she replied: “I know it’s hard, but I truly love doing what I do and I don’t want to give up either of them. Motivated by enthusiasm, I’ll just arrange my schedule like a sponge and suck it up!”


When asked about what she wants to share with younger fellows at SUSTech, she said: “What’s most important during college is not what you have learned, but how you have seized all kinds of opportunities. SUSTech can provide us with many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, so when you see something you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to participate! Only by doing this can you proudly say, ‘I have no regrets’ upon graduation.”


Let’s hope the determined Rongpeng achieve more success with her lovable personality!


Original Chinese Text by Tian Lu (Student News Agency)

English Translation by Fan Yining

Proofreading by Chris Edwards

Photos by Cao Ruoxiao (Student News Agency)