Science popularization acts as a bridge that connects scientific advancements with the general population. Sun Hailu, the Director of Science Education at BGI BIOVERSE, is one of the bridge builders, paving the way from the scientific frontier to people like you and me.
Sun Hailu, the Director of Science Education at BGI BIOVERSE.
As a child, he was captivated by the wonders of nature: observing ants carrying caterpillar bodies into their nests, examining dead birds, and experimenting with seed germination. His passion for natural science led him to pursue a biology major in college, culminating in his current role at BGI BIOVERSE, a subsidiary of BGI Group.
Since joining BGI’s science popularization project, Sun has been actively involved in science communication courses for primary and middle school students, as well as study tour groups visiting BGI. This experience has given him valuable insights into understanding the needs and interests of the audience, enabling him to present scientific concepts in accessible and engaging ways.
Transforming rigorous scientific knowledge into captivating content for the general public poses a significant challenge in science popularization. Sun recognizes the importance of tailoring the information to suit different age groups. While adults may appreciate logical explanations, children require imaginative and creative approaches.
For instance, while lecturing a group of fifth-grade students about cell structure, he noticed that some students were struggling to keep up. Surprisingly, in the end, the students asked him: "Can cells be eaten?"
“That gave me an epiphany,” he explained. “That was their point of interest!”
Following this, Sun changed the theme of the lecture and redirected the students' attention by focusing on the question: "Can cells be eaten?" He used relatable examples like vegetables and beef to introduce different types of cells and their functions, making the topic more accessible and enjoyable for young minds.
Sun Hailu is leading students on a study tour group for a field trip.
Apart from his role as a science educator, he is also a researcher at BGI-Research, a core research arm of the BGI Group. He is one of the authors of the world's largest-ever study of primates in evolutionary history, recently published in Science.
Working at the BGI Group brings Sun a profound sense of happiness, as the organization consistently publishes top-tier research articles in the fields of genomics and life sciences. The wealth of interesting content derived from these outputs enables Sun and his team to bring cutting-edge and easily understandable knowledge to students and the general public.
In recent months, BGI BIOVERSE has partnered with multiple schools in southern China to conduct hands-on educational courses. By cultivating a diverse range of crops on school campuses and rooftops, students gain unique experience and knowledge about different plant species. These crops include perennial rice from BGI BIOVERSE, African taro introduced from overseas countries, as well as familiar crops like peanuts, soybeans, and peppers. This practical approach enhances their understanding of agriculture and biology, igniting their passion for science.
Looking to the future, Sun and his team aim to promote their innovative ideas and courses, modularize and productize science popularization content, and distribute it across schools and educational institutions. By creating standardized products, they hope to improve science popularization and inspire a new generation of biology enthusiasts.
“I would like to explore more interesting ways like this, and also find more partners to work together in this area,” he said.