Rong Jia-yu, paleontologist and biostratigrapher, born in 1941 in Shanghai, is a native of Yin Xian County, Zhejiang Province. He graduated from Beijing College of Geology (Paleontology and Stratigraphy major) in 1962. Upon graduation, he was admitted into the graduate program at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology (NIGP), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He graduated in 1966 and has since remained in that institution, ascending in academic ranks from Assistant (1978), Associate (1983) to Full (1988) Research Professorship. Rong was Director of the CAS’s Open Laboratory (now a designated “National Key Laboratory”) of Modern Stratigraphy and Paleontology from 1996 to 1998. In 1997, he was elected a member of the CAS.
Rong has traveled extensively in Europe and the United States and engaged in a number of international collaborative research projects with renowned European and American colleagues. He has also participated in numerous international conferences and symposia. Currently, he is serving on the editorial board of several leading international journals in his field, including Lethaia, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, and Geological Journal. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission on Stratigraphy as well as the Chair of its Silurian Subcommission. He is also an honorary council member of the Geolological Society, UK, and an overseas representative of Palaeontological Society, UK.
Rong’s research focuses on brachiopod systematics, community paleoecology and paleobiogeography in the mid-Paleozoic and biostrtigraphy of Ordovician and Silurian. With his collaborators, he has recently published the systematic revision and summary of three brachiopod orders on a global scale in Treatises of Invertebrate Paleontology (2000-2002). Again with his collaborators, he has also proposed the new scheme of the Silurian biostratigraphic correlations for South China (1979). He pioneered the studies of the early Paleozoic brachiopod ecological communities in China (1986) and the compilation of the serial paleogeographic maps of the Silurian of South China (2003).
In late 1990s, the Chinese government launched a nationwide initiative to bolster its basic research. Rong, as the Principle Investigator for paleobiology, led a consortium of hundreds of paleontologists from all the premier institutions in China to secure a multimillion-dollar (in USD) grant to study the mass extinctions, survivals, and recoveries in the history of life (2000-2005). The recent successful completion of the so-called “973 Project” under Rong’s stewardship has brought the Chinese paleontological research onto the world stage.
As of 2005, Rong has published about 200 peer-reviewed papers, and he is the senior author for 92 of them in which 22 were published in SCI journals. He has also edited two monographs. Numerous awards have bestowed upon him over the years, including National Natural Science Bronze Medal, the CAS’s SciTech Progress Award (Gold Medal, twice, and Silver Medal, once), National Outstanding Returned Study-Abroad Scholar Award (1991), Mid-Career and Young Scientist Achievement Award.