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Published November 02, 2010, 10:48 AM

Out of China

STREETER, N.D. — Ringnecked pheasants aren’t the only imports from China that are popular in central North Dakota. Chinese-born scientists are fitting in nicely at the Central Grassland Research and Extension Center in Streeter, N.D., adding to a cultural and knowledge base.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

STREETER, N.D. — Ringnecked pheasants aren’t the only imports from China that are popular in central North Dakota. Chinese-born scientists are fitting in nicely at the Central Grassland Research and Extension Center in Streeter, N.D., adding to a cultural and knowledge base.

The center’s Chinese connection started about 10 years ago, when Streeter had an open position for someone in biological sciences.

At that time, Jerry Dodd was the chairman of North Dakota State University’s Animal and Range Sciences Department had experience in China. A professor in at the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing was looking for a base in the United States to do some range science research and sent various students. Guojie Wang was one of those sent to work in a cooperative projects in Streeter. Wang (pronounced Wong) went back to China, finished his master’s degree and returned to North Dakota the second year. He now is a permanent staffer, working to finish his doctorate.

In the past 10 years, the Chinese government has been more open to allowing their scientists to move to the United States. Nyren explains that the country has more Ph.D.s than they can find work for.

“We’ve been very fortunate to recruit these folks to bring to bring a great deal of knowledge to this institution and the state of North Dakota,” Nyren says. “Most of that knowledge comes from education in China.”

Culturally, it’s been a great experience for the station. Paul and Anne Nyren traveled to China a year ago.

“We visited some of their research. It was a great experience,” he says, noting some of the projects were in Tibet. “I learned a lot about that country that surprised me, and I found the people to be extremely friendly and willing to help.”

Nyren praises the work ethic, knowledge and abilities of his Chinese colleagues.

“It’s been good for us,” he says. “I hope it’s been good for the community to get to know these folks,” he says. “We’re lucky to have them, but they don’t all have a technician. It’s a better use of a Ph.D. to have someone else go out and build a fence or collect plants. So we badly need some support staff.”

Early this fall, North Dakota State University announced it soon will open a Chinese institute, funded by the Chinese government. There will be a memorandum of agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which could bring more graduate students to the state.

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