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I just finished a PhD, but with all the zero-sum games going on it's looking more and more like the rather specific thing I was hoping to do after graduating won't pan out. Finding a different sort of job here in the US wouldn't be a problem, but it would be nice if I could use this language I've been studying now for 15 years. Packing my bags and seeing what I can find over there isn't an option because the wife has a good job here. If one had a skill set in modeling and statistics, are there any fields where they could also leverage their Chinese proficiency?

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I will share my two cents.

If it sounds interesting to you, I think that you can work on machine learning in the context of natural language processing, specifically for Mandarin.

And, if I may be so selfish, I'd ask you to utilize your skill set to work on the task of using the technology to extract those hard-coded subtitles in those Chinese videos. I'd imagine that the machine learning can probably do a good job at figuring out what Chinese characters they are.



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This is just brainstorming, kind of a shot in the dark, but...


Do you think there might be some US-based environmental engineering firms that are  focused on "clean energy" (such as solar or wind turbine) who are interested in getting a better, more detailed look at the Chinese experience with such modalities? 


If such a company wanted to not only gain a detailed background understanding of such issues, but wanted to actually partner with one or more Chinese companies that were doing similar projects, it seems that someone with your skill-set would be a highly valuable asset.


Also, along the same lines, I don't know whether any Chinese companies might even already be players in one or more aspects of the US "clean energy" field. If so, I would think there might be a demand for someone to serve as liaison between domestic and foreign corporations. (Sorry, I realize that is vague.)


Another longshot: EPA. Does the US Environmental Protection Agency have much interest in how this stuff works in China? Their interest could conceivably be either in how well China has done in some aspects of improving their environment or how badly it has done in others. 


Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the field to be more specific. Your resume is impressive, and I do hope you find a way to use your Chinese in pursuing a fruitful career.


Several years ago, I by chance shared a long plane flight (LAX to PVG) with a young guy in the next business-class seat who was an environmental engineer working in China. He was employed by a Chinese company and was enthusiastic about how rapidly the field was developing in China. HIs comments were very optimistic, along the lines of "the world is your oyster" as an environmental engineer in China. (We didn't stay in touch and I don't have his contact info. Plus, it was before XJP, so things might be different now.) 

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You'd think "environmental engineering" would involve clean energy, but it's actually mostly water treatment and hazardous waste cleanup. As you might imagine, China's rapid economic growth over the past few decades has left it with a serious land contamination problem. And unlike air pollution, you can't just turn off the pollution source and wait for things to clear up on their own; the nasty stuff tends to stick around seeping into groundwater wells until somebody digs it out or remediates it via other means. Here's a couple sites I worked at in China: the first picture is of an abandoned waste oil recycling operation and the second is a former chromium ore processing facility (the sickly yellow staining is hazardous hexavalent chromium). The scale and intensity of contamination is often an order of magnitude greater than at sites here in the US, which makes the work a lot more interesting.




The environmental remediation industry has existed in the west since the 80s, and many of the large multinational environmental engineering firms have offices in China, but most of the work they do over there is small-scale compliance stuff for other large multinational corporations. The real cleanup work is being done by a horde of variously qualified Chinese remediation companies. There's an opportunity here to leverage the experience accrued in the West to expedite the cleanup going on, but that sort of international collaboration was sparse before because of cost reasons and it's sparser now because of political reasons. There are perhaps 4-5 western remediation tech companies that have managed to get a toehold in the market over there, and I'll be spending the next few weeks impatiently checking my inbox waiting to hear back from them.

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Goodness knows China badly needs a lot of environmental cleanup and remediation. I hope leadership makes it a priority. Politics is unpredictable, but maybe someone who has the Chairman's ear can remind him that environmental cleanup is very similar to rooting out government corruption. The two campaigns should proceed hand in hand. It would even make good PR, good TV spots, good billboard slogans.  


One small thing which always bothered me was going on narrow winding mountain roads to reach a quaint and picturesque nearly-rural village, maybe in search of an unusual tea, only to find it ringed by trash, dumped by the people who live there. I would usually be told there was no municipal plan for waste disposal, even though it had been promised. That always got the visit off on the wrong foot. And I'm aware of the much more serious contamination of farmland and groundwater by industrial dumping. 


Not to go on and on, but I had a chance to see close up one of the "cancer villages" where the incidence of pollution-related cancers was 20 or 30 times higher than the country in general. The medical school with which I was affiliated would send teams of young postgraduate physicians (residents 住院医师) there under the supervision of an attending to do outreach work. It wasn't purely a philanthropic act. A week or two there would give the young doctors several years worth of experience in diagnosing and treating malignancies that might be relatively rare in ordinary practice. 

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