- Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion (2018)
HE Binglin (何炳林): HE is known as China’s “father of ion exchange resins.” He established the first ion exchanger plant in China. The practical applications of his scientific research include, but are not limited to, national defense, medical science (removal of blood toxins), and environmental protection (removal of harmful metals from wastewater). At Nankai University HE served as the founding head of the Polymer Chemistry Division, the founding director of the Polymer Chemistry Institute, and chair of the Department of Chemistry (which subsequently became the College of Chemistry in 1995). Both Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai inspected HE’s ion exchange laboratory and workshop in 1958 and 1959 respectively. HE was also the founding president of Qingdao University (while continuing his service at Nankai). HE published over 650 scholarly articles and 120 review papers, and edited numerous scientific journals. HE supervised over 160 graduate students and 15 post-doctoral students. In 1980 HE was inducted into the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His awards (over 30) are too numerous to list here. HE was recognized at home and abroad for both his scholarship and his contributions to China’s national development. At his funeral in 2007, flowers and messages of condolence were delivered on behalf of China’s top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, former President Jiang Zemin, and prime minister Wen Jiabao, among many others. After his death a memorial commemorating his life and work was established in his hometown of Panyu in Guangdong Province and a large statue of his likeness was added to the Nankai University campus. HE was a prolific mentor, co-authoring over 880 articles. Beyond his demanding academic standards, HE was also known for his concern for the personal well-being of his students and colleagues. HE made sure to divide all research, scholarship, and prize money with all members of his teams. HE would give his share to graduate students with financial difficulties. This practice inspired those around him to do the same, which fostered a famously collegial environment.