Chengdu, China, Dec. 24, 2016 --- Prof. Ermi Zhao, researcher at Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, world famed herpetologist, the Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, died from multiple diseases at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University. He was 87. Chengdu Institute of Biology ,CAS shows its greatest sorrow for loss of Prof. Ermi Zhao and sincerest sympathy to his family.
Soon after his hospitalization, Prof. Ermi Zhao made a will to ask for the simplest funeral, where he would like his cremains be mixed with that of his late wife and buried under a tree, so that they could together get back to the arms of nature.
Prof. Ermi Zhao was born a Manchu in Chengdu , China, on Jan. 30, 1930. He went to West China Union University in 1947, where he followed the noted herpetologist and Academician Prof. Chengzhao Liu to study biology. At graduation, he worked as an assistant professor at Harbin Medical University until 1954 when he came back to his alma mater, now named the West China School of Medicine, Sichuan University, where he started his research on animal zoological embryology and herpetological taxonomy. He was transferred to Chengdu Institute of Biology,CAS in 1965 as an assistant, and gradually promoted to the vice director of the institute (1982-1991).
Prof. Ermi Zhao was invited to be the executive committee member of the World Association of Herpetology in 1983; in 1987-1988 he was a visiting professor at the Cornell University, and elected to be a member of the Sigma Xi the Scientific Research Honor Society; in 1991 he was a guest professor at University of California Berkeley, and the Chair Herpetologist of IUCN China. He was elected academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001, and in the same year awarded the Academy and Technology Leadership of Sichuan Province, China. Before his regrettable decease, he had been professor at Chengdu Institute of Biology,CAS and Sichuan University, lifetime member of the Sigma Xi the Scientific Research Honor Society, honorary member of the California Academy of Sciences, honorary editor-in-chief of Asian Herpetological Research, editorial board member of Salamandra of Germany. He had also been a delegate of the 7th and 8th People’s Congress of China, and a representative in the 6th People’s Congress of Sichuan Province.
As an outstanding herpetologist in China, Prof. Ermi Zhao has published more than 140 academic papers, wrote or compiled 43 monographs, established 4 periodicals, and translated 5 books in his 60 years of research. His important contribution to the herpetology development in this country and the world also included discoveries in new species, understanding of distribution of amphibians and reptiles, establishment of the Chinese Herpetological Society and Sichuan Zoological Society, in addition to breeding of snakes and development of therapy and prevention against snake bites.
The academic career of Prof. Ermi Zhao was also the history of the establishment and development of herpetology studies in China. His research achievement made remarkable contribution in China and the world to the development of studies in herpetology, global environmental change, biodiversity conservation, bio-resources utilization, and human sustainable development. His rigorous and persistent attitudes toward science also leaves us great spiritual heritage.
The life of Prof. Ermi Zhao was one full of love and devotion. He dedicated himself to his country, science research, life and nature; he loved his family, colleagues and students. He was a diligent researcher, a strict teacher, a candid and humorous friend. His discovery and exploration about the life not only consummated his own, but also elevated human understanding about life itself. His reverence for life shall always be borne in our mind.