I have spent the last three weeks working at Tsinghua University in Beijing, as part of my on-going Chinese High End Expert appointment. During this time, I’ve been working with three keen students (Huiying Xu, Shengchao Qiao and Yuechen Chu) of my colleague Dr Han Wang on various projects related to modelling plant traits. Huiying Xu’s project is looking at the impact of elevation on photosynthesis and leaf traits, using the data we collected along a transect up Gongga Shan in Sichuan in July 2018. Yuechen Chu’s project is also on the analysis of plant traits, specifically relating morphometric traits to photosynthesis and leaf traits and their relationship to environmental conditions. This draws on the extensive database of plant traits across diverse sites in China that we have been putting together over the past 10 years (the China Plant Trait Database ( https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.871819). Shengchao Qiao’s project is using our ecological optimality productivity model (the P model: www.nature.com/articles/s41477-017-0006-8) to simulate crop traits and behavior. It’s great to work with such motivated young scientists and to see the day-by-day progress being made on these projects. Tsinghua University is a fantastic and forward-looking place, and the Department of Earth System Science is a great place to work. All this and spectacular views of the mountains (no smog these weeks), great food and good jazz. What more can you want?