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Memories of Dr. Tung-Yang Wing by Dr. Paul Heidger

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Summary of reflections and memories by Dr. Paul Heidger, Professor Emeritus, Anatomy and Cell Biology, of Dr. Tung-Yang Wing, on presenting the Award named in Dr. Wing’s honor to Dr. Zhao Sun, for Superior Achievement in Anatomy Graduate Education.

“I am indeed honored and humbled to be invited by Dr. Engelhardt to share personal memories of Dr. Tung-Yang Wing, on this occasion of the 30th anniversary of the granting of the Award created and named by the Department in Wing’s memory. Today is made particularly special as we welcome back to Iowa City, and our Department, Dr. Wing’s widow, Dr. Li-Yuh Wing, and son, Dr. Theodore Wing. Please join me in welcoming them here today….

I notice as I speak that looking over my shoulder is the portrait of Dean of Medicine, Dr. John W. Eckstein. He had the great insight of appointing both me and Wing, albeit a decade apart, to our faculty positions in Anatomy, so this of course gave us a common bond from the outset….(!) Not to mention that Tung-Yang’s doctoral mentor at Michigan, Dr. Kent Christensen, and I were postdoctoral fellows together at Harvard, and thus Wing and I shared an academic lineage that I guess would make him my academic nephew….. 

More seriously, it became my great pleasure to come to know Wing as an outstanding scholar and insightful researcher, as we shared common research interests in spermatogenesis and fertility control. To appreciate him as an accomplished, inspiring, and empathetic teacher of histology, as we taught together in medical and graduate histology. And finally, to value him as a congenial, hard-working and innovative colleague devoted to serving his Department and College, particularly through his dedicated efforts to bring graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty together within our department, and across the basic sciences. In his typically quiet, self-effacing, but persuasive way, Wing inaugurated a highly successful series of research workshops promoting information exchange and celebrating the accomplishments of both beginning and seasoned investigators. The graduate student seminar series which continues to this day in our department is a testimony to these early initiatives instigated by Dr. Wing to bring faculty and students from diverse labs and disciplines together around their research endeavors. 

The untimely passing of Dr. Wing, not yet two years into his promising career with us, and just, as I recall, two weeks following the funding of his first NIH research grant, was indeed a tragic event for his wife, Li-Yuh, their families, those under whom he had trained at Michigan and Johns Hopkins, and for our Department. The award we give today was instituted by the Department the very next year, recognizing a graduate student in our program demonstrating outstanding research achievement during the preceding year. 

It is my privilege today to ask Dr. Zhao Sun to come forward to receive this distinguished Award. I would also ask that Drs. Li-Yuh and Ted Wing come forward to participate in making the Award.

Zhao Sun graduated from School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai, China in 2010 with a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. After graduating from ECNU, Zhao was admitted to the Biomedicine Program of the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University at Houston. He joined Dr. Brad Amendt’s lab in 2011 and in 2012, he relocated with Dr. Amendt to The University of Iowa and joined the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology PhD Program. As a graduate student, he participated in several research projects and presented his work at several national/international conferences. In his spare time, Zhao likes to travel, practice photography, and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He recently successfully defended his thesis entitled “New Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Dental Epithelial Stem Cell Maintenance, Growth and Craniofacial Morphogenesis” and has accepted a postdoctoral position at Washington University in St. Louis.

Congratulations, Dr. Sun! The Award consists of a stipend, together with your name inscribed on the plaque placed in the Department commemorating the recipients of the Award.

Li, and Ted, it is also my privilege on behalf of the Department to present you with this framed photograph of the commemorative plaque listing the names of those over the past thirty years who have been recognized in Wing’s memory for their research achievement and potential. Thank you both so much for being with us today, and making this a very special event for us all!”