Chung-Ho Lin’s decision to not move back to Taipei, Taiwan was not influenced solely by the Missouri tennis courts. They were also very high up on the list.
Lin laughed as he recalled how he waited in line for hours to be allowed to play on the crowded courts in his native country. It didn’t get any easier once Lin made it to the court.
You eventually get the chance to play. They put six people on one court with three ball. … You must pay for the court! He said. Here, you are so spoilt: There are 20 courts there all day.
Lin, thirty years later, has traded in his tennis rackets and running shoes for a labcoat and microscope. Lin is still a skilled player on weekends.
Lin is a research associate professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Center for Agroforestry at MU. This means that he can often manage multiple projects simultaneously. Lin was most recently involved in the state’s effort to track COVID-19 through wastewater. He is also involved in several projects that involve bioremediation and natural product creation to reduce toxic substances in the environment.
Bioremediation is the process of using natural resources to remove harmful pollutants from ecosystems. Natural product development refers to the process of turning waste into something that is economically or environmentally useful, such as grinding corn cobs for cat litter.
He explained that we were basically using Mother Nature’s help to clean up the mess left by humans.
Finding a home requires you to forge a path.
Lin moved to Columbia in 1991 in order to obtain a bachelor’s in forestry from MU. Lin, who was 26 years old, already had a degree from Taiwanese university and work experience at one the biggest environmental engineering firms on the island.
He stated that his original plan was for him to get his degree and then return to the States to continue his career. He decided to stay after completing several degrees and a few years.
Lin described Taiwan as a very pretty island. She spoke of a small country with a lot of fresh fish, and mountains that are snowcapped all year. You can go to an ocean in the morning, then to a mountain hotspring and then to the night market at night.
He stated that he was tired from the city life by the moment he arrived at MU.
He said that Missouri attracted him. It has beautiful scenery and seasonal change. People are friendly and warm.
He felt the typical college student homesickness after the move. This was compounded by living across the ocean from his family. He said that it was hard to find people and food that reminded of home and that it cost $20 each time he called his mom.
Hatch Hall, his dorm room, did not have air conditioning. However, it was close enough to the tennis courts that he and his friends would often play for six to eight hours per day.
He met his wife while playing tennis at the MU. They grew up in Taipei, just blocks from each other.
Lin said that she went to high school together with Lin, her cousin. We didn’t meet until we were both in Columbia.
Giving room for creativity
Lin also chose to stay in Columbia due to the global platform MU provided for his work as well as the possibility for creativity and curiosity in project selection. Taiwan has a strict hierarchy in academia. This means that you have less freedom to choose what projects to work on.
(Mizzou), is more like an open-air playground where I have all these building block that I can assemble in whatever shape or manner that I want.
Lin embraces the freedom to work with experts from different fields. Gustavo Carlo, Lin’s cross-disciplinary colleague, used to work for MU and is now the director of Cultural Resiliency and Learning Center at University of California Irvine.
Carlo spent ten years at MU’s College for Human and Environmental Sciences. Some of that time he worked with Lin. They collaborated on a project to analyze the impact of environmental toxins upon children’s cognitive development and social development.
They came up with the idea for the project while having dinner in Costa Rica. Both were there as part of a global scholars programme. Lins in the biological sciences and Carlos, in the social sciences, are two very different researchers. Carlo said that they get along well because Lins is persistently optimistic.
He is a very positive person. However, his positivity is also a part of his resilience. Carlo recalled fondly that it helped him to cope with any challenges. It’s a positive attitude that is contagious that makes him great to work with and hang out with.
Mohamed Bayati is a civil and environmental engineering research scientist at CAFNR. Lin describes him as a productive, supportive scientist.
They have been friends since 2015, when Bayati’s wife started working for Lin. After receiving his Ph.D., Bayati took a part time job with Lin before taking a full-time job in the wastewater laboratory. From MU.
Bayati, who arrived in the U.S. from Iraq said Lin is a great friend and scientist. Bayatis daughter was in the hospital and Bayati said Lin gave him the flexibility he needed to care for her. He also told him to prioritize his family.
Bayati stated that he is part my family. We don’t have any relatives because we are both international. … But my wife and me always feel like our trust is complete. (Hes) like an older brother.
Lin was also described by Carlo as a kind friend and colleague who helped him settle in Columbia by taking Carlo along to his weekend tennis matches. Lin, despite only being with Carlos for a few months, was the first to donate to a memorial fund after his death.
Carlo said, “I think he’s really a treasure, at Mizzou and for the students.”
Lin tries to visit his family in Taiwan at least twice a year. However, Lin has not been able to return home since COVID struck.
He is hopeful that more people will be vaccinated and they will soon be able to visit. He said that I miss my family the most. With everything going on right now, it’s probably not a good time to leave my position.