Philosopher, Doer, Generalist, Zen Mindfulness Meditator, Mathematician, PhD Candidate



Chao (Cico) Zhang is doing his PhD. (Doctor of Philosophy) research1 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he has been dealing with the systematic dehumanization prevalent in academia. His diverse research interests include, but are not limited to, truth of mind2, human education, well-being. He engages in meditation and philosophy (Zen, Taoism and Neurons), cherishes intelligence humbleness and intellectual independence, cares about human values and well-being, and disapproves of narcissism, egoism and materialism. His main philosophical viewpoint is to embrace and appreciate the diversity of free minds3. He has described himself as a mindful, open-minded, cosmopolitan, self-motivated, compassionate fully, reflective, philosophical and communicative person. His long-term goal is to be a messenger to awaken more people and creative problem-solver for the world, rather than a narrowly focused boffin to itself.

  1. Unfortunately and fortunately, much of the research time went to dealing with dehumanization and academic misconduct, which turns out to be a marvelous practice of mindfulness and much more valuable than any research. Integrity matters most. ↩︎

  2. Cico has been influenced and elightened by Krishnarmurti, Zen, Taoism, now he is developing his way of explanation for the same thing — the nature of mind, in order to share it with more people. ↩︎

  3. A mind distorted by thoughts and illusions are not in the scope of diveristy, though it can be tolerated. ↩︎


  • Truth (the essence of Chan and Taoism)
  • Humanity
  • Compassion


  • MSc in Bioinformatics, 2016

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Postgraduate in Cryptographic Protocol, 2011

    Chinese Academy of Sciences

  • BSc in Mathematics, 2009

    Shandong University

What’s on?

Events that I am (co-)organizing by my philosophical values

  1. Mindfulness session on Monday: link (Since November 2018)
  2. Talking in Chinese on Wednesday (for Chinese learners): link (Since October 2018)


A crucible of ideas and interests


Academic Integrity

A philosophical examination of academic integrity combining mindfulness and individual experience

Deep Generative Models and Single Cell Data

A critical study of deep generative models applied to single cell datasets.

Mindfulness and Philosophy

Mindfully and philosophically explore the meaning of being and doing.

ELIXIR NL Galaxy Workshop

A training course for bioloigist and biology educators

Understand Deep Learning

A learning project to debunk deep learning and satisfy my curiosity

ELIXIR TraIT-EGA Implementation Study

A project aiming to link the dispersed human bio-molecular data for reuse


Nothing to be proud of

Freedom from the Known

Krishnamurti’s words deeply resonated with me and touched me, becuase of the experience I have been through. This book gave me the language and expression to describe mindfulness and meditation, to descibe the nature of human minds. Zen is a philosophy of negation, and K perfectly presented it via his way of teaching. Understanding what K said is never difficult, but deeply feeling it requires the life experience, which in reverse is the true understanding. Thank you, K!

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

A very important book for my philosophy mindfulness, though it is one about psychedelics. In terms of spirituality, psychedelics and meditation converge eventually, that is, there is only one spirituality. They both needs philosophy to get the mind right. In a way, psychedelics + proper talks = meditation + philosophy = mindfulness.

The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect

A good review of the history of and philosophical explanation of causal models. I was influenced a lot by this book, because it helped me debunk the current data science and its hype, and gave me the confidence to further explore the philosophy behind science, which is a very differnt vista.

Probabilistic Graphical Models Specialization

A thorough introduction to graphical models and their applications, bringing me new insights into data analysis from different perspectives.
See certificate

Deep Learning

A thorough introduction to deep learning and its application, very helpful. It lets me unravel and debunk deep learning.
See certificate

Recent Publications

Only represents me at the time.

(2017). Systematically linking tranSMART, Galaxy and EGA for reusing human translational research data. In F1000Research 2017, 6:1488.

PDF Dataset Project Slides

(2016). Integration of EGA secure data access into Galaxy. In F1000Research 2016, 5(ELIXIR):2841.

PDF Dataset


As an assistant teacher (It does not represent my philosophical values of education)

I was an assistant teacher for the following courses at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: