Chen was born in Sichuan Province in August 1958. He received his Bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Yunan Forestry College (now called Beijing Forestry University, BJFU) and Ph.D. in Forest Genetics and Breeding in 1994 from BJFU. He has held visiting position at Vitoria University in Canada. In 1980, he joined Yunnan Forestry College’s faculty. Prior to his appointment at SCAU, President Chen was a faculty member of Yunnan Forestry College and held different posts for more than two decades at BJFU. From 1995 to 2006, he served in succession as dean of the College of Resources and Environment, head of Forestry Department of Tibetan College of Agriculture and Pasture, dean of College of Biology, President's assistant and the Vice President of BJFU.
Besides his administrative position in South China Agricultural University,President Chen is also Director of the Supervision Committee of the Discipline of Forestry, the State Ministry of Education, and Deputy Director of Nature Protection Research Center of the State Forestry Administration.
President Chen has been many times winner of national-class scientific awards. He holds various honorary titles presented by the government and the State Forestry Administration. Since 1992, he has been receiving a special allowance from the State Council.
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