China established the National Supreme Scientific and Technological Award in 1999, to acknowledge Chinese scientists who make breakthroughs in leading scientific fields, technological innovation and application, and high-tech development.
The 2005 prize winners are Wu Mengchao and Ye Duzheng.
Ye Duzheng a leading name in the world meteorological community has been universally recognized as the founder of New China's meteorological research.
As a pioneer of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Meteorology, Ye was the first in the world to stress the importance of the roof of the world as a heat source in summer and a cold source in winter.
His research in the field for almost half a century is considered as a major contribution to the understanding of general circulation over Asia.
Ye extended his studies to include the general circulation over the whole northern hemisphere.
His outstanding academic achievements have won him numerous prize awards and distinctions at national and international levels.
In February 2004, Ye received the prestigious International Meteorological Organization Prize (IMO Prize) from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
It was the first time that a Chinese scientist had been awarded the honor since the inception of the prize in 1955.
Michel Jarraud, WMO's secretary-general, said Ye was awarded the prize for "over six decades of meteorological investigation, research and training, and invaluable service to meteorology not only in China but also in Asia and at a global level."
Besides serving as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ye has worked in numerous international scientific organizations.
He is a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters, honorary member of the Royal Meteorological Society of the United Kingdom, and honorary member of the American Meteorological Society.
On January 9, when the 90-year-old received the 2005 National Top Prize for Science and Technology from the hands of President Hu Jintao, he had every reason to think that the choice he made in 1950 to return to motherland could not have been wiser.
Ye was born in North China's Tianjin Municipality in 1916. After graduating from the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1940, Ye left for the United States to further his studies.
In 1948, Ye received a PhD from the University of Chicago, where he was taught by the world famous meteorologist Carl-Gustav Rossby (1898-1957).
During his candidacy, Ye took an active part in Rossby's researches on the general circulation of the atmosphere, particularly the then newly discovered jet streams.
His excellent doctoral dissertation won him a well-paid job in the United States with a yearly salary of US$4,300, which was almost equal to that of a professor's income level at that time.
However, Ye gave up his job and returned to China in October 1950.
"I had a strong feeling that New China was hopeful and needed me," Ye said.
He said he was "moved to tears" when he saw a welcome crowd singing and dancing in Luohu Port in South China's Guangdong Province.
After returning to China, Ye and some other scientists became pioneers of China's meteorological research.
In 1958, Ye and his assistant, Dr Tao Shiyan, wrote the book Some Fundamental Problems of the General Circulation of the Atmosphere, which was one of the earliest publications on the dynamics of general circulation.
In 1978, Ye became director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
At the age of 90, Ye Duzheng is still busy with many research-related activities. "I am working eight hours a day but still find time is running short," Ye said.
Ye has been focusing on the effects of global warming since the 1980s and raised a concept of "orderly human activities" in 2003.
"A scientist's life is like a stage play, the success of which depends on two things: a good stage and a harmonious and unified group of performers," Ye said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency after winning the IMO Prize in 2004.
"I contributed all my success to the group of Chinese scientists who dedicated their lives to atmospheric studies."
(China Daily January 11, 2006)