Zhu Kezhen

Name in Chinese
竺可楨
Name in Wade-Giles
Chu K'o-chen
Related People

Biography in English

Chu K'o-chen (1890-), known as Coching Chu, meteorologist, became president of National Chekiang University, director of the institute of meteorology of the Academia Sinica, and president of the China Meteorological Society. After 1 949 he served in Peking as a vice president of the Academy of Sciences.

Shaohsing, Chekiang, was the birthplace of Coching Chu. He completed his primary schooling in his native Shaohsing and his middle school education in Shanghai. In 1910, while attending the T'angshan Engineering College in Hopei province, he won a Boxer Indemnity Fellowship for study in the United States. Chu enrolled at the University of Illinois, and he received a B.S. degree in 1913. He then went to Harvard University for graduate work. He gained an M.A. degree in 1915, won the Emerson Scholarship in 1917, and received the Ph.D. degree in 1918 after writing a dissertation entitled "A New Classification of the Typhoons of the Far East." A two-part summary of his thesis was later published in the Monthly Weather Review in Washington in 1924 and 1925. Chu also published his other early professional papers in the United States. These included "Rainfall Distribution in China," which appeared in the Monthly Weather Review in 1916, and "Some Chinese Contributions to Meteorology," published in the Geographical Review in 1918. He was elected a fellow of the American Geographical Society in 1917. While in the United States, Coching Chu was also an active member of the Science Society of China, a group founded in 1914 by Chinese students in the United States with the goal of introducing Western scientific knowledge to China and promoting scientific research. Others active in that organization, which in later years did much to promote the advancement of science in China, included Y. R. Chao (Chao Yuen-ren), Jen Hung-chün, and Yang Ch'uan (qq.v.).

Coching Chu returned to China in 1918. He taught meteorology and physical geography at the Nanking Higher Normal School. He then joined the staff of National Southeastern University at Nanking and became chairman of the department of geology in 1921. His article on the climate of Nanking from 1905 to 1921 was published in 1922. Chu resigned from his position at Nanking in 1924 and served for a time as chairman of the history and geography section of the translation department of the Commercial Press at Shanghai. He helped to prepare the Chinese translation of J. Arthur Thomson's Outline ofScience which was published at Shanghai in 1923. An important article by Chu on "Climatic Pulsation during Historic Times in China" appeared in the Geographical Review in New York in 1 926. That year Coching Chu represented China at the third meeting of the Pacific Science Congress, held at Tokyo, where he presented a paper, "A Preliminary Study of the Weather Types of Eastern China." In 1927 Coching Chu returned to academic life as chairman of the department of geology at National Central University, the successor to Southeastern University. He also became the director of the National Meteorological Station at Nanking. When the institute of meteorology of the Academia Sinica was established, Coching Chu was appointed director; he held that office until 1949. He became president of the China Meteorological Society in 1928, and he also served as a member of the board of directors of the Science Society of China and as a council member of the Academia Sinica.

In the years between 1928 and 1936 Chu published several professional papers on the climate of China. He also attended the fourth meeting of the Pacific Science Congress, held at Batavia, Netherlands East Indies, in 1929; and the fifth, held at Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1932. He visited the United States in 1933. In 1936 Coching Chu was appointed president of National Chekiang University at Hangchow. When Hangchow was lost to the Japanese in 1937, Chu moved with his university, first to Chiente in Chekiang, then to Kiangsi, Kwangsi, and, finally, to Tsunyi, Kweichow, where he remained from 1938 until 1946. Despite wartime privations, Chekiang University, under Coching Chu's leadership, sustained its reputation as one of the outstanding institutions of higher education in west China. Chu's earlier scientific work indirectly assisted the war effort against Japan. A paper he had written in 1932 on the circulation of atmosphere over China was reprinted by the Weather Division of the United States Air Force in Washington in 1944.

After the Japanese surrender, Coching Chu returned to Hangchow with Chekiang University. The results of his long-term study of climate as a key to human activities appeared in a massive compilation entitled The Temperature of China, of which he was joint author with John Lee and Chang Pao-kun. This work was published in 1947 at Nanking. In 1947 he visited the United States at the invitation of the Department of State. In 1948 Chu was elected to membership in the Academia Sinica. His political sympathies were revealed when he was elected president of the leftist-oriented National Association of Science Workers in 1 948. Coching Chu was a member of the group of well-known scientists and educators who participated in the new Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference convened by the Chinese Communist party in September 1949. After the establishment of the Central People's Government, Coching Chu, then nearly 60, began a second career as senior science administrator at Peking. When the National Government fled to Taiwan late in 1949, only a small portion of the equipment and personnel of the Academia Sinica was evacuated to that island. The Communist authorities immediately began to reorganize the Academia Sinica, and in the autumn of 1 949 the Chinese Academy of Sciences was established as a constituent part of the new government at Peking. Kuo Mo-jo (q.v.) was appointed to head the Academy, with ^Ch'en Po-ta (q.v.) as the top-ranking vice president. Coching Chu was also named a vice president of the Academy of Sciences, ranking just below Ch'en Po-ta in the administrative hierarchy. As one of the senior professional scientists at Peking, Chu played an important role in national research planning after 1949. In 1954 he became the director of the academy's department of biology, geology, and geography, which supervised some 20 research bodies, including the institute of geophysics and meteorology at Peking. He also headed the committee in charge of planning large-scale scientific expeditions, notably those concerned with investigation of water resources and soil conservation in the central Yellow River basin and with investigation ofthe Tsaidam basin in Tsinghai between the Nan Shan and K'un-lun mountain ranges. Chu's role as senior scientist also embraced activities in other new national organizations established to advance science and scientific knowledge.

From 1951 to 1958 he was a vice chairman of the Association for the Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Knowledge; and from 1953 to 1958 he was a member of the national committee of the All-China Federation of Scientific Societies. When these two organizations were merged in 1958 to form the Scientific and Technical Association of the People's Republic of China, Chu was elected one of its vice presidents. He continued to serve as president of the China Meteorological Society until 1960, when he reached the age of 70. In 1 956 he served as chairman ofthe China national committee established for the International Geophysical Year. Although China later withdrew from formal participation in the International Geophysical Year, its scientists carried out the programs planned by the national committee. Coching Chu was elected a delegate from his native Chekiang to the National People's Congress in 1 954 and again in 1 959, and he made important reports on scientific work at its meetings. In addition to his responsibilities at Peking, Chu visited the Soviet Union in 1953 and 1956 and East Germany and Poland in 1954. In 1958 he became chairman of the China-East German Friendship Association.

Coching Chu's first wife, Jean Chang, whom he had married in 1919, and one of their three children died in 1938. In 1940 he married Catherine Ch'en. At least one child was born of the second marriage.

Biography in Chinese

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