Lu Yonggen

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Lu Yonggen
Native name
Born(1930-12-02)2 December 1930
Died12 August 2019(2019-08-12) (aged 88)
Alma mater South China Agricultural University
Spouse(s)Xu Xuebin
Children1 daughter
Scientific career
FieldsRice genetics
Institutions South China Agricultural University
Academic advisors Ding Ying
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 卢永根
Traditional Chinese 盧永根

Lu Yonggen (Chinese :卢永根; 2 December 1930 – 12 August 2019) was a Chinese agronomist, plant geneticist, and philanthropist. He served as President of South China Agricultural University from 1983 to 1995, and was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1993. He was named China's second most generous philanthropist in 2017 after donating his entire life savings to his university.

Simplified Chinese characters Standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China, Malaysia and Singapore.

A plant geneticist is a scientist involved with the study of genetics in botany. Typical work is done with genes in order to isolate and then develop certain plant traits. Once a certain trait, such as plant height, fruit sweetness, or tolerance to cold, is found, a plant geneticist works to improve breeding methods to ensure that future plant generations possess the desired traits.

South China Agricultural University university in Guangzhou, China

South China Agricultural University (SCAU) commonly referred to as SCAU, is a public comprehensive university in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. Founded in 1909. Main campus settles in Wushan, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China. South China Agricultural University was selected as one of the 7 Cultivated High-Quality Universities of Guangdong Province in 2015. SCAU is considered to have an advantage in the field of agricultural science.


Early life and education

Lu was born on 2 December 1930 in British Hong Kong, into a middle-class family that hailed from Hua County (now Huadu), Guangdong province. [1] When the Japanese attacked Hong Kong in 1941, his father sent him to Hua County for safety, where he became familiarized with agricultural practices. He returned to Hong Kong two years later for middle school. [1] This experience with Japanese invasion made him sympathetic to the Communist cause, and in 1947 he joined the New Democratic Youth Association of Hong Kong, which was secretly led by the Communist Party of China, and the Party itself in August 1949. [1]

British Hong Kong Crown colony and British dependent territory in East Asia between 1841 and 1997

British Hong Kong was Hong Kong when it was governed as a colony and British Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom. Hong Kong was under British rule from 1841 and was briefly occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945 before surrendering the territory back to British forces, resuming British rule from 1945 to 1997. The colonial period began with the occupation of Hong Kong Island in 1841 during the First Opium War. The island was ceded by Qing dynasty in the aftermath of the war in 1842 and established as a Crown colony in 1843. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.

Huadu District District in Guangdong, Peoples Republic of China

Huadu District is one of 11 urban districts of the prefecture-level city of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, China. It is located in the far northern suburbs of the city.

Guangdong Most populous province of the Peoples Republic of China

Guangdong is a coastal province in South China on the north shore of South China Sea. Its capital of the province is Guangzhou. With a population of 113.46 million across a total area of about 179,800 km2 (69,400 sq mi), Guangdong is the most populous province of China and the 15th-largest by area. Its economy is larger than that of any other province in the nation and the 6th largest sub-national economy in the world with a GDP size of 1.47 trillion US dollars in 2018. The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, a Chinese megalopolis, is a core for high technology, manufacturing and foreign trade. Located in this zone are two of the four top Chinese cities and the top two Chinese prefecture-level cities by GDP; Guangzhou, the capital of the province, and Shenzhen, the first special economic zone in the country. These two are among the most populous and important cities in China, and have now become two of the world's most populous megacities.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Lu moved to Guangzhou to study agriculture at Lingnan University. In 1952, the agricultural schools of Lingnan University and Sun Yat-sen University were merged to form South China Agricultural College (now South China Agricultural University), and Lu became one of the first students of the new college. [1]

Guangzhou Prefecture-level and Sub-provincial city in Guangdong, Peoples Republic of China

Guangzhou, also known as Canton and formerly romanized as Kwangchow or Kwong Chow, is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong in southern China. On the Pearl River about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, Guangzhou has a history of over 2,200 years and was a major terminus of the maritime Silk Road, and continues to serve as a major port and transportation hub, as well as one of China's three largest cities.

Lingnan University (Guangzhou) university in Guangzhou (Canton), China

Lingnan University in Guangzhou (Canton), China, was a private university established by a group of American missionaries in 1888. At its founding it was named Canton Christian College (格致書院).

Sun Yat-sen University university in Guangdong, China

Sun Yat-sen University, abbreviated SYSU and colloquially known in Chinese as Zhongda, also known as Zhongshan University, is a major Chinese public research university located in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. It was founded in 1924 by and named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary and the founding father of the Republic of China.


Upon graduation in August 1953, Lu was hired by South China Agricultural College as an assistant professor and later lecturer. [2] He formed a close relationship with Ding Ying, the first president of the college, and served as the latter's research assistant and secretary from 1962 to 1964. [1] Ding had collected more than 7,000 seeds of wild rice for research and conservation. After Ding's death in 1964, Lu took over the collection and further expanded it to more than 10,000 seeds. [3]

Ding Ying Agriculturalist

Ding Ying was a Chinese agronomist who served as the first president of South China Agricultural College and the first president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He was elected a founding academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1955

Wild rice genus of plants, the wild rices

Wild rice are four species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain that can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in North America, India and China. While now a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable.

Lu made significant contributions to the research of rice genetics, especially the "specific compatibility gene". [4] He established the new concept of "pathoklisis gene", and the categorization of China's main indica rice variety into two categories and four types. [5] From 2012 to 2017 alone, his team developed 33 new rice breeds. [4] He was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1993. [3]

Chinese Academy of Sciences academy of sciences

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, is a Chinese research institute. It has historical origins in the Academia Sinica during the Republican era and formerly also known by that name, is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Collectively known as the "Two Academies (两院)" along with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, it is an institution of China, functioning as the national scientific think tank and academic governing body, providing advisory and appraisal services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development, and science and technology progress. It is headquartered in Xicheng District, Beijing, with branch institutes all over mainland China. It has also created hundreds of commercial enterprises, Lenovo being one of the most famous.

Lu was promoted to associate professor in 1978 and full professor in 1983. [2] He served as President of South China Agricultural University from 1983 to 1995. [3] During his tenure, he broke from the old seniority-based system and promoted promising young scientists directly to professorship. [3]

Lu died on 12 August 2019, at the age of 88. [1] [3]


Lu lived a frugal life and regularly ate at the school cafeteria with students, but made annual donations to education and poverty relief. In 2014, he donated two ancestral houses in his hometown Huadu to the local primary school. [4]

In 2017, Lu and his wife, Professor Xu Xuebin (徐雪宾), donated their entire lifetime savings of 8.8 million yuan (US$1.34 million) to South China Agricultural University. [1] [4] It was the largest single donation ever received by the university. [1] They left no inheritance to their only daughter, who Lu said was capable of supporting herself. [4] The Ash Center of Harvard Kennedy School ranked him at No. 2 in its list of most generous Chinese philanthropists for 2017, [6] and he was selected as one of the ten people featured on China Central Television's annual program People Who Moved China. [3]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ""布衣院士"卢永根病逝 生前曾捐出880万积蓄". Phoenix TV. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. 1 2 Wu Shaomin 吴少敏 (12 August 2019). "华农"布衣院士"卢永根病逝,生前捐出毕生积蓄880万元". The Paper. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 ""感动中国院士"卢永根今晨病逝 生前曾捐880万积蓄". The Beijing News. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Scientist gives all he has to society". China Daily. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. "Biography of Lu Yonggen". China Vitae. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  6. "Lu Yonggen". Philanthropy in China. Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 13 August 2019.