Since 2010, Wang has conducted some 50 field surveys in Africa,
during which his team discovered seven new plant species.
the eyes of Gituru Robert Wahiti, a Kenyan botanist and Wang’s
Ph.D. student, Wang is an inspiring leader.
He was particularly impressed by how Wang uplifted a
frustrated team on their seemingly vain trip to look for a rare
plant species in the dense forests of Mount Kenya.
On the fourth straight day of the search, some members of the
team, consisting of both Chinese and Kenyan researchers, started
to back down due to the tedious trek, thin air, low temperatures
and mountain sickness.
"He gathered the team in a shallow depression on the mountain
slope and encouraged the members to carry on with the field
exercise, appealing to their sense of teamwork, friendship, and
dedication to their research," Gituru recalled.
Though their voices were hoarse and off-key, the team lifted
their spirits and joined in the chorus of a renowned Kiswahili
Finally, in a depression at the foot of a slope, the
botanists broke out in jubilation at the sight of a flourishing
patch of the rare plant species.
"All the members shook Prof. Wang’s hand, and some even
hugged him," said Gituru.
Other challenges in field surveys in Africa included
blood-sucking mites and wild animals, as well as natural
disasters such as landslides.
In 2013, he became the director of the Sino-Africa Joint
Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is
staffed with researchers from 18 Chinese research institutions
and their counterparts from eight African countries.
"It took us five years to build the research platform from
scratch. Chinese institutes and universities now can engage with
the African researchers, promoting research capabilities in
Africa as well as commercializing the research results," said
Wang is also compiling the flora of Kenya with the National
Museum of Kenya.
"This is an ongoing process that is expected to make a great
contribution to the conservation and protection of the plants
which constitute an important part of the natural heritage of
Kenya," Gituru said.
"We plan to spend 10 to 15 years drafting the flora and the
book is expected to cover around 7,000 plant species in Kenya.
If we can make it, that will be a great honor for us all," said
Professor Wang Qingfeng: Jomo Kenyatta University of
Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
and Sino–Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC) plant
research project underway