Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Invited Speakers

Invited Speakers

(In order of presentation)


Dr. Thomas Wesley HOLCOMBE
Group Leader, Functional Polymers Research Asia Pacific
Academic Research Alliance: Network for Asian Open-Research
BASF Advanced Chemicals Co. Ltd.

Dr. Holcombe was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. He studied Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas, Austin and obtained his doctorate in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley – setting records in the field of “organic photovoltaics.” Following the Ph.D., Dr. Holcombe completed a 2-year post-doc at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland – still trying to save the world with solar cells. Dr. Holcombe started his industrial career in 2013 as a research scientist in the BASF division “Biological & Effect Systems Research.” There he worked on OLED materials for advanced displays, before transitioning into research for Home Care materials in 2015. As part of the group for Amphiphilic Systems, he worked primarily on joint developments with Unilever. Since August 2018, he’s taken up a couple new roles at the BASF Innovation Campus Shanghai – namely leading two groups: one primarily focused on functional additives for home and personal care and the 2nd, with much support from the team leader Sunny Feng, is all about increasing our connection to Asian academic institutes.


Prof. WU Yilin
Associate Professor, Department of Physics
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Wu obtained his B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2004 and Ph.D. in Physics from University of Notre Dame in 2009. After postdoctoral research at Rowland Institute of Harvard University, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Physics, CUHK as Assistant Professor (2012-2018) and Associate Professor (2018-present). His research interest is in biophysics and quantitative biology, with a focus on the motion and self-organization of microbial systems ranging from single cells to microbial communities, such as bacterial swarms and biofilms.


Prof. XIA Jiang
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Xia is an Associate Professor at Department of Chemistry, CUHK with a courtesy appointment at School of Life Sciences. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nanjing University, and a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University. He was also trained at California Institute of Technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a postdoctoral scholar. His research interest lies at the interface between chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine. His laboratory focuses on the site-specific protein reactions, new synthetic methodologies for peptide photocaging, exosome-based drug delivery for infectious diseases and arthritis, the engineering of enzymes and synthetic organelles for enhanced biosynthesis.


Prof. CHAN Ho Yin Edwin
Professor, School of Life Sciences
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Chan is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences, CUHK. He received undergraduate training in biochemistry from CUHK, doctoral training at The University of Cambridge (UK), and postdoctoral training at The University of Pennsylvania (US). Since 1999, Prof. Chan has been investigating the pathogenic pathways of rare neuronal diseases. His contribution to this field has been recognised by academia through the various research prizes he has received, including the CUHK Young Researcher Award and the Genetics Society of China 13th Ju-Chi Li Animal Genetics Prize. Prof. Chan is a Founding Member and Executive Committee member of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences. He is an advisor to the Hong Kong Spinocerebellar Ataxia Association and the Hong Kong Alliance for Rare Diseases.

Since 1998, Prof. Chan has devoted himself to the study of rare neurological and neuromuscular diseases.  He established a research collaboration network, and has been running a multi-disciplinary research programme with inter-continental collaborative partners from Denmark, France, Italy, Poland, the UK and the US.  Areas of Prof. Chan research include animal disease modeling, basic functional studies of genes/proteins, biochemical and biophysical analysis of protein/RNA actions, biomarker development, cell-based analysis of disease mechanisms (including stem cells), drug delivery, gene testing, novel human disease gene identification, structure biology studies of drug-target interactions, pharmacological investigations of drug actions, and public health.


Prof. FAN Xiaodan
Associate Professor, Department of Statistics
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Fan is currently an Associate Professor from Department of Statistics, CUHK. He received his bachelor’s degree in Automation and master’s degree in Pattern Recognition & Intelligent Systems from Tsinghua University, and his Ph.D. degree in Statistics from Harvard University. Since he joined CUHK, he has joined multiple collaborative research projects as Co-I or Co-PI, including one Areas of Excellence project, one Innovation and Technology Fund, and two Theme-based Research Scheme projects. Except for these grants, he also actively collaborates with many local or oversea researchers. His major research interest is to develop new statistical models and efficient computing algorithms for solving bioinformatics problems.


Prof. TAI Pui Kuen Amos
Assistant Professor, Earth System Science Programme
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Tai specializes in atmospheric chemistry and physics, ecological climatology, and biosphere-atmosphere interactions. His research combines high-performance earth system modeling with multivariate statistical analysis of global observations to examine the interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere, addressing societally relevant issues such as how air pollution and climatic hazards impact ecosystem services and food security, and how better land-use, forest and agricultural management may help improve air quality and mitigate climate change. His work has been published in top-ranking journals in the atmospheric, climate and environmental sciences, and earned him the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Research Award for Young Scientists (2015) and Research Grants Council (RGC) Early Career Award (2014). He was selected as a Founding Member of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences (YASHK) in 2018. Prof. Tai is also devoted to education, and has received the prestigious Vice-Chancellor Exemplary Teaching Award (2015). He obtained his B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering Science from MIT, and his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Harvard.


Prof. TAM Chi Yung Francis
Assistant Professor, Earth System Science Programme
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Tam is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability (IEES), CUHK. A climate scientist by training, his research interests include tropical and Asian monsoon circulation, their inter-annual variations and predictability, and future behavior under global warming. He also specialises in using numerical models for studying the physics governing extreme climate and weather (including intense precipitation, tropical cyclones, storm surges), and their impacts on highly urbanized megacity environments. In addition, through the support from IEES, he studies how land use/land cover changes might influence regional air quality and heat wave occurrence, in collaboration with IEES postdocs and other research fellows. He got his B.Sc. and M.Phil. in Physics from CUHK, and Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from Princeton.


Prof. YU Chai Mei Jimmy
Choh-Ming Li Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Yu is a Choh-Ming Li Professor of Chemistry, Head of United College and Associate Director of the Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability of CUHK. He graduated from St. Martin’s College in 1980, and received a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho in 1985. He joined the Department of Chemistry at CUHK in 1995 as an Associate Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2002.

Prof. Yu is a prolific writer who has published over 300 journal articles. As a leading scientist in the multidisciplinary field of catalysis, he is listed in the cross-field category of Highly Cited Researchers 2018. He received many honors including the 2005 National Natural Science Award of China. He was named Chang Jiang Scholar Chair Professor by the Ministry of Education in 2009. Besides teaching and research, Prof. Yu is also active in knowledge transfer. He holds several patents for the fabrication and application of photocatalytic nanomaterials. Air and water treatment systems based on his inventions are commercially available.