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NTU visit 03.11.08-01.12.08

In November 2008 I visited the chemistry department of the National Taiwan University (NTU) as part of our NUS-NTU interdepartmental exchange program that started in early 2007. After touching down at the Taoyuan International Airport on the 3rd of November, I was welcomed by administrative officer Emilie Hui-Chen Hsu and a young and talented postdoctoral researcher of the department chairman Prof Pi-Tai Chou, who drove me to my accommodation and helped me with the check-in. For my stay, the chemistry department of NTU had arranged a nice room in the Howard International House, which also included breakfast. The next morning, Emilie, who was always available to help me out, met me in the Hotel Foyer and showed me the way to the Chemistry Department, which was only about 10 min walking distance away. I met up with Prof P.-T. Chou and after a good conversation, he hosted a welcome lunch with the attendance of Prof Sheng-Hsien Chiu, Emilie and 3 NUS undergraduate exchange students, who were taking NTU modules also as a part of this exchange program. After the lunch I was shown my visiting office, which was equipped with a desktop computer, color laser printer and a couch with table for casual discussions. Prof S.-H. Chiu, who is a very successful young scientist in the area of supramolecular chemistry focusing on rotaxanes, showed me the department and his research labs. Then he brought me to see Prof Jwu-Ting Chen and Prof Shiuh-Tzung Liu, two world renowned organometallic chemists, whom I have already met earlier at the ICOMC in Rennes 2008. Both of them do fantastic organometallic chemistry either on the area of complexes bearing ditopic nitrogen-donors and/or N-heterocyclic carbenes and their applications in catalysis. After a casual chat, Prof J.-T. Chen brought me to see Prof Ying-Chih Lin, who told me about his very interesting research about C-C bond making and breaking in Ru-vinylidene complexes. During the next few days, I could work in my office and also occasionally met up with Profs S.-H. Chiu, J.-T. Chen and S.-T. Liu for casual lunches and dinners. In the meantime, Prof J.-T. Chen also arranged for a lecture-tour at some other Taiwanese universities.
On the Friday 14.11.08, I attended the department meeting cum lunch chaired by Prof P.-T. Chou, during which I was officially introduced to NTU staff members. In the afternoon, Prof P.-T. Chou also hosted my research seminar to students and colleagues. The seminar was well attended and both students and colleagues actively asked questions, commented and made very good suggestions on my N-heterocyclic carbene research. Students and staff members found my slides very useful and asked for a copy, to which I happily agreed. After my seminar, I was also invited to a department tea with NTU staff and some NTU emeritus professors to celebrate the university’s 80’s anniversary. The celebration was extended to a department dinner in the Howard International House.
In the following days, I visited and gave talks at several universities and at Academia Sinica in or nearby Taipei. My visit to the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) on the 17.11.08 was hosted by Prof Chien-Tien Chen, who also showed me his impressive research on supramolecular cation-sensors. At NTNU I also had good research discussions with Profs I-Jy Chang, Minghey Shieh and Way-Zen Lee. The next day on 18.11.08, I took the speed-train to Taichung and met Prof Hon Man Lee, who hosted my visit to the National Changhua University of Education (NCUE). Prof H. M. Lee is also working in the area of N-heterocyclic carbenes, and we could exchange some thoughts on our common research area. He also took good care of me and showed me around their campus before sending me off to Taipei at the train station. We agreed that my next visit to NCUE would be longer so that I can see more of Changhua and surroundings.
On 20.11.08, Prof Jiann T’suen Lin hosted my visit to Academia Sinica, where I also met and director Prof Yu-Tai Tao and had fruitful discussions with Drs and Profs Tiow-Gan Ong, Kuang-Lih Lu, Fen-Tair Luo, Shih-Sheng Sun, Shin-Guang Shyu and Ling-Kang Liu. In particular, I was impressed by the research facilities of this world renowned research institute. During my visit, I also had the opportunity to meet Prof Sunny Chan, who also attended my seminar talk and asked very useful questions for me to reflect upon. My next destination was the beautiful Tanshui campus of the private Tamkang University, which I visited on 24.11.08. Prof Hsiu-Fu Hsu was my host and prior to my research seminar I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Profs Bo-Cheng Wang, Tzenge-Lien Shih and Wen-Jwu Wang. The attendance of my talk was great and I was happy to answer many questions from the very attentive students. Later, graduate students of Prof Hsu’s group also brought me around the beautiful campus and we had an informal group dinner, which marked the end of my visit.

Carbene Group Huynh

The last destination of my lecture tour was the National Tsinghua University (NTHU) on 26.11.08, which was hosted by Prof Yun Chi. I met him in his office and he first explained his research on true-blue light emitting Ir-complexes bearing some NHC ligands, and I could get new insights their applications in an fascinating area new to me. After my talk, he showed me around the campus and we had a nice dinner, before I headed back to Taipei.
Besides the numerous academic and scientific interactions mentioned above, I also had the opportunity to meet other staff members of NTU chemistry, such as Profs Chung-Yuan Mou, Wang Yu, Tien-Yau Luh, Richard P. Chen, Bih-Yaw Jin, Yeun-Min Tsai, Chao-Tsen Chen, Lee-Chiang Lo, Chun-Chung Chan, Hung-Wen Li, Soofin Cheng and King-Chuen Lin either during informal lunches or just in the chemistry department building. Outside university life, I could experience the every-day life in Taipei and surroundings by visiting various night markets and some tourist’s attractions including Shilin, Shida, Gongguan, Longshan temple, Danshui, Taipei 101, Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall, National Palace Museum, Yangmingshan, Beitou, Keelung, Jiufen etc.
Overall, I enjoyed my academic visit at the National Taiwan University to the fullest, made many new friends and am very grateful for the hospitality that I received throughout my stay. In particular, I was impressed with the high quality research conducted at NTU and their high-quality students and am looking forward to establish collaboration in near future to strengthen the ties between NTU and NUS.

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