Gao Lu 高鲁

Gāo Lǔ was born in 1877. His father died when he was young but his brilliance won him many scholarships. By 24 he was admitted to the Manwei Shipbuilding College and was subsequently sent to Belgium to attend the University of Brussels. He studied ancient Chinese astronomy as well as getting a doctorate in mechanical engineering. In Paris he became involved with the new movement of Sun Yatsen and when he returned to Belgium in 1905, he organized students there to join the democracy movement. In 1911 he returned to Fuzhou with Sun Yatsen. By 1914, having occupied several other posts, he was appointed the first director of the Beijing Observatory.

He turned his attention to meteorology and weather prediction as well as planning and designing the expansion of the Beijing Observatory. Over his career, he was instrumental in the founding of the Chinese Astronomical Society (1922) and the establishment of the Academia Sinica (1929) and he served as the first director of each.

He was appointed as Minister to France in 1931 and on his return to China in 1932 was appointed Minister of Education. He and others began to work to promote the funding of the Purple Mountain Observatory and he participated in the design and site selection. The work was completed in 1937 just as the Anti-Japanese war reached Nanjing. It wasn't until after the war that real research could be conducted at the new observatory.

In 1942 Gao Lu was in a car accident and never totally recovered from his injuries. The following year he suffered a stroke while addressing the General Assembly during a celebration. He died in Fuzhou in 1947.
Last update: May 2007
© Marilyn Shea, 2007