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Profile | Prof. Yu Longchuan: Teaching brings me joy
Mar 14, 2023
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Prof. Yu Longchuan

Peking University, March 14, 2023: On the afternoon of February 27th, Prof. Yu Longchuan arrived at Classroom 208 of the No.1 Teaching Building (Yijiao) at Peking University half an hour early for class, holding two thick stacks of books. Every Monday afternoon during the semester, he will show up there to teach Neurobiology, an elective course offered by the School of Life Sciences. The refurbished Yijiao building is spacious, well-lit, and equipped with advanced facilities, such as new LCD screens in the classrooms. Students get a clearer view of microscopic pictures on the Powerpoint slides, Prof. Yu says. As students entered the classroom, Yu set up his laptop, projected the slides, and quietly waited for the bell to ring.

“First to arrive and last to leave”-- this is the common impression students have of Prof. Yu. He makes use of the time before and after a class to communicate with everyone. This is the second lesson of this semester, and Professor Yu continues to receive questions from students. Aside from offline communication, he also keeps up with students via email. 
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Prof. Yu interacting with a student

Neurobiology is an extension to the original School of Life Sciences course Neurotransmitter Biology, taught by Prof. Yu Longchuan when he returned to teach at Peking University in the 1990s. This course introduces the basic structure, functions, occurrences, development and other laws of the nervous system.

Neurobiology is a vast, cross-disciplinary area of study that has developed rapidly abroad. However, few universities in China offered related courses back then. “Peking University must offer this course,” Yu Longchuan thought at that time. He hoped that through Neurobiology, Peking University students could learn the basic concepts of neurology, better understand pressing issues at home and abroad, and communicate with professionals in the field, so as to stay ahead of the times.
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With such a goal in mind, Prof. Yu has carefully curated the syllabus to meet the needs of undergraduate students. He includes the latest scientific discoveries and development in the field, while ensuring that the course has a low threshold. He hopes to cultivate students’ innovation consciousness and research skills, so as to expand their horizons.

Prof. Yu’s lessons are well-paced but packed with information. Throughout the class, he checks in with students to ensure that they are keeping up. To stimulate interaction and thinking, he occasionally throws out questions for students to answer.

“Undergraduate education is different from graduate education, students need to build a strong foundation and study extensively,” he says.

“Prof. Yu is a well-seasoned researcher, so he will remind us of the mistakes that we often overlook during practices. For instance, choosing the correct drug dosage to be used in experiments. When Prof. Yu teaches, he sincerely hopes that we can learn,” Li Shuo, a student from Yuanpei College says.
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For 28 years, teaching has been more than a profession for Prof. Yu Longchuan. It also encompasses his conscience, responsibility and passion. He first returned to teach at Peking University in 1995, retired in 2012, and was invited back to teach post-retirement. “Even now, I still spend hours or even days preparing for my lessons, updating my slides with the latest information.”

“As a teacher, you have to be responsible for what you teach. If you teach the wrong thing, students will encounter problems in their scientific research,” Yu said. Looking back on his career, he added, “The value I uphold the most is sincerity. When teaching, I avoid simply imparting knowledge, instead, I try to guide students to form habits, methodology, and innovation in their study of science.”

As class came to an end, it was already dusk. Some students left, while others stayed to further their discussions with Prof. Yu. After everyone left, Professor Yu put his coat back on and shuffled out of the building. His voice had become hoarse from talking, but he insisted that he was not tired. “As long as my body allows me to, I am willing to keep on teaching. Teaching brings me joy.”

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Written by: Wu Jiayun
Edited by: Meng Bin
Pictured by: Li Xianghua
Source: PKU News (Chinese)