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Visiting scholar helps create bridge between South China Agricultural University and Virginia Tech

November 27, 2017

Headshot of South China Agricultural University Professor Qinying He
Professor Qinying He of South China Agricultural University will spend a year in the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Professor Qinying He of South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, China joined Virginia Tech Agricultural and Applied Economics faculty earlier this month to begin a year-long stint as a visiting research scholar in the department.

“It’s really the beginning of a partnership between our universities,” said Jeff Alwang, a Virginia Tech Agricultural and Applied Economics professor who focuses on international development and will work closely with He over the next year. “She brings astute statistical knowledge that can help our analyses, and at the same time, she can learn some of the applied economics approaches to evaluating development options and understanding food and health behaviors.”

Agricultural and Applied Economics is a promising new field in China so many Chinese statisticians and economists are looking to partner with well-established departments and programs in the U.S. for expertise, which is exactly what He is seeking to do as well.

He earned her doctorate in statistics from The Ohio State University in 2007, and with two other degrees in economics, her expertise lies in econometrics and statistics. She began working at South China Agricultural University in 2015 and has since been learning about agricultural and applied economics so she can effectively advise her graduate students who focus on applied research.

“All of my U.S. contacts were in statistics,” said He. “But then I found Dr. Wen You, and her focus is on applied economics, specifically food and health, which is what I was looking for.”

Over the course of the next year, He will work with both Alwang and You, with a goal of completing several journal articles for publication in well-known agricultural and applied economics journals.

The long-term goal is to establish a strong partnership between the two universities that will benefit both faculty and students in the future.

“We are just in the beginning stages,” said Alwang. “But this is an important step in building a strong foundation for academic collaboration.”

Working with Alwang on development projects and You on food consumption and health issues, He is also uniquely positioned to learn and contribute key knowledge and analysis to inform Chinese agricultural production and poverty elimination programs.

“There are a lot of similarities between developing countries and rural areas in China and the United States,” said Alwang. “They have lagging areas just like rural Virginia where you’ve got declining populations and very few economic prospects.”

He said, “A sizable population is in rural China, where the agricultural productivity is quite low, so we would like to increase the productivity – provide some strategy, analysis, and policy advice.”

With a strong statistical and econometric background, plus a full year working with applied economic experts Alwang and You, He will have much to contribute to her university, as well as agricultural and applied economics programs across China.