The Institute of Natural Sciences was offi cially established in 2010. Characterized by its interdisciplinary scientifi c research, INS is aimed at breaking down the traditional barriers of individual disciplines by setting an unprecedented standard for creating a first-rate research environment ideally conducive for creative scientifi c research, and at becoming a world-class research center for exchange of innovative scientifi c ideas, original interdisciplinary research, and rigorous training of versatile cross-disciplinary scientists and also an intellectual center for world-class interdisciplinary studies. The current research of INS mainly covers applied mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science and technology, engineering, and life sciences and now develops into these research cores: Modern Statistics and Data Science, High Effi ciency Numerical Methods, Hydrodynamics and its Mathematical Theory, Image Science, Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, Soft Condensed Matter Physics, Physical Processes in Biological Systems, Materials Science, etc.
Throughout the years, INS members have created breakthroughs over a wide range of topics, such as characterization of nonlinear dispersive wave dynamics, dynamical properties of single neuron and neural populations, adaptive dynamics of biological transport networks, mechanical and statistical properties of active matter, structural and dynamical properties of granular materials, functional dynamics in protein molecules, structure, function & dynamics of membrane active peptide and protein, high dimensional statistical inference, mathematical modeling and algorithm development for imaging science, Bayesian inference and uncertainty quantifi cation,and partial diff erential equations from fluid dynamics and kinetic theory, etc.
One unique feature of INS is that it always encourages open academic discussion and collaboration whilst fully respecting the independence of researchers. As a consequence, young researchers have greatly benefi ted from the freedom of being innovative in the institute and self-motivated by their own passions and enthusiasms in science itself. Their scientifi c achievements are frequently obtained in close collaboration, by groups containing experimentalists, theoreticians, and computational scientists across multiple disciplines, infusing unexpected ideas into new research directions.
At INS, external distinguished scholars are invited for visit, short-term or long-term, on a regular basis. The institute has also hosted interdisciplinary research forums and hired adjunct professors from other schools and departments in the university. INS has become of a hub of academic exchange and collaboration.
INS partakes in the Pilot Program for Training Outstanding Students in the Basic Sciences of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which is the prototype of Zhiyuan College. INS faculty is actively engaged in many aspects of the daily operation of Zhiyuan college, including student enrollment, course design, lecturing, and thesis advising. Interactions with INS visiting scholars also help to stimulate Zhiyuan students’ interests in science, broaden their vision and improve their academic skills. Since 2012, the institute has launched the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Research Fellow Training Program. Students in this program receive systematic academic training and participate in the interdisciplinary projects at the forefront of research. Through these experiences, students signifi cantly enhance their abilities to formulate and solve complex problems from a cross-disciplinary prospective, which lays a solid groundwork for them to become future innovative talents.
In the future, Institute of Natural Sciences will continue to develop towards an innovative research center with important international influences; a fertile ground for young scholars’ development and provide competitive graduate student training program. INS will aim to cultivate excellent cross-disciplinary talents in natural science, technology, and medical science, and make major contributions to the development of cross-disciplinary science in China.