Welcome to the newsletter from the Faculty of Science (FoS) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Featured in this issue are recent events on education and research in the FoS and highlights on the faculty, staff, students and alumni in recent months!

As we prepare this newsletter with the capable staff in the Science Faculty Office, I am very pleased to tell you that our Faculty has had a highly successful year with respect to education, research and service, despite the challenges we faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a specially challenging and exciting year for me since I moved from the US to CUHK as new Dean of Science in July 2020.

I would like to thank all the faculty and staff members for their dedication and hard work in teaching and advising, research and service that led to a successful 2020-21 academic year, with many faculty members receiving major awards for their accomplishments in research and teaching and students receiving internships and fellowships as well as awards. I am grateful for the support from the Faculty Executive Committee and Faculty Board to me as the new Dean as well as the encouragement from university leaders including the Vice-Chancellor and the Provost. Second, I would like to congratulate all the undergraduate and postgraduate students who graduated from FoS in 2020-21, and we wish you all the best in your endeavors. Please keep in touch with us and we want to hear from you. Third, our warm congratulations to all the new students in “freshman” classes of 2021 for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

We are delighted to welcome over 630 new undergraduate students to FoS! With the resumption of face-to-face teaching in Term 1 of 2021-22 following a long period of online education due to the global pandemic that began Spring 2020, we are excited to have new students to come on campus for in-class teaching and learning.

Our special welcome goes to all the new faculty and staff members who joined the FoS. We are happy that you have joined our science family and look forward to working with you. Our special gratitude goes to all the faculty and staff members who retired from the FoS. We are grateful for your contributions and services over the past years and wish you healthy and happy life after retirement. 

I would like to express our special thanks to all the generous donors with their gracious support for the education and research in various units and research laboratories in the FoS. We will continue to do our best to earn your continued trust and support as we move forward. We would like to hear from you on how we could improve in our mission and please feel free to contact me at ChunshanSong@cuhk.edu.hk with your comments and suggestions.

Professor SONG Chunshan
Dean of Science and Wei Lun Professor of Chemistry

Honours & Awards

Science Faculty All-Staff Meeting

The Faculty of Science organised its first All-Staff Meeting on 9 July 2021. Professor SONG Chunshan, Dean of Science, welcomed all staff members who joined the meeting in person and online. Followed by the introduction of new staff members and personnel news, he presented the current status of the Faculty and outlined the vision for the future.

He also addressed the excellent collaboration performance in all categories in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020, which have showed significant improvement and clear progress of the Faculty’s research advances.

Associate and Assistant Deans were then invited to present outcomes from the Faculty Strategic Retreat held in April 2021 in seven strategic areas, namely (1) undergraduate admission, (2) undergraduate education, (3) postgraduate education, (4) research, (5) alumni, (6) global engagement, and (7) diversity and inclusion.

The Dean is grateful to all faculty members for their contribution and support throughout the year and hopes the meeting can serve as a new platform to promote communication within the Faculty.

Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates 2021

The Inauguration Ceremony was successfully held on 4 September 2021 to welcome over 630 students for joining our science community this year.

Professor SONG Chunshan welcomed all new students and introduced the list of faculty members to them. Two senior-year students, Priscilla LAU (Biology/ Year 6) and LAU King Heng (Earth System Science Programme/ Year 5) also shared their different yet rewarding university life with our freshmen.

The Ceremony marks a good beginning of the new term. Our warmest welcome to all. Science Empowers Your Dreams!

Science Graduates Awarded Prestigious Scholarships

Rice SIU – The Esther Yewpick Lee Millennium Scholarship

Rice SIU, our recent biochemistry graduate, has been awarded the University’s Esther Yewpick Lee Millennium Scholarship to pursue a DPhil in neuroscience at the University of Oxford in the new term.

Suffered from insomnia in early years, Rice has worked hard to catch up on her studies and always cherishes the time that she spent during her undergraduate studies at CUHK. She decided to devote herself to the neuroscience research after having both locally and overseas exposure in a number of research projects in the Faculty, in the Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, and the UC Berkeley.

Rice will be working closely with distinguished scholars at Oxford in the new term to study the mechanism of neural circuits system in the brain and continue the eye-opening experiences.

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Chris NG – The Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Our another recent graduate in molecular biotechnology, Chris NG receives the 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholarship awarded by the Gates Cambridge Trust to support his doctoral studies in Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge.

Determined to be a biological researcher to aid the future of medical science, Chris grasped every opportunity to expand his knowledge in the fields of biochemistry, protein engineering, cell biology, and immunology by taking courses related to molecular pathologies when studying abroad at UC Berkeley and participating in an internship in a genetic diagnostic company.

His determination and strong commitment to improve the lives of the others have empowered him to join this leading international postgraduate scholarship programme, which has over 2,000 scholars from more than 600 universities. Chris is the only student from CUHK who receives this prestigious scholarship.

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May CHIM – The Croucher Cambridge International Scholarship

May CHIM received her BSc in Earth System Science and MPhil in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from CUHK. She has been recently awarded the Croucher Cambridge International Scholarship to pursue her doctoral study with focus on the impacts of volcanic eruptions and volcano-climate interactions on future climate projections.

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Outstanding Alumni Service Award 2021 (Career Development)

Mr. HO Chun Yan, the Outstanding Alumni Service Award 2021 (Career Development) recipient is a committed Physics alumnus who has been serving as a supervisor and mentor in the summer internship programme organised by the Department of Physics, namely Summer Teacher AppRenticeship (STAR) programme for over 20 years.

With his experience in the education field, he has been generous in offering invaluable insight into being a good teacher to current physics students. “I have been working with the Department of Physics for many years. I would like to thank the Department for giving me the chance to contribute to the STAR programme and felt truly honoured to receive the Award,” said Mr. Ho.

Launched in 2020, the Outstanding Alumni Service Award recognises science alumni who have made great contribution to the Faculty’s career development. Mr. Tommy Wong, the 2020 award recipient is also a Physics alumnus who spares no effort in sharing his teaching life with our students.

STEM Internship Programme

The CUHK School Heads Alumni Association and the Faculty of Science, CUHK have initiated the STEM Internship Programme in 2021.

We are glad to have 17 students to join the Programme with the generous support from the principals and teachers in 9 schools, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Alumni Affairs Office.

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Young Alumni Career-Supporting Network

To provide Science students with mentoring support and psychological support in life planning with a more down-to-earth mentorship approach, the Career Planning and Development Centre, Office of Student Affairs and the Faculty of Science have recently launched a new mentorship programme – “Young Alumni Career - Supporting Network”.

We have 5 young alumni who take care of our 9 science students. They share personal stories and their own experiences with their mentees throughout the mentoring period from May 2021 to July 2022.

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Science Faculty Postgraduate Research Day

The first Science Faculty Postgraduate Research Day was held in early of the year and postgraduates shared their research ideas with professors and fellow students. We were very pleased to have 14 excellent young researchers this year.

After a day-long exchange of research work, Mr. GU Qilao who worked on cosmos compasses, and Ms. YAO Suli, a postgraduate in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences focusing on the research of frictional strength on faults, shared the championship. Ms. MA Sum Yi whose research focuses on the functional link between cerebellum and autism in a preclinical autism mouse model was awarded the second runner-up.

It is hoped that the Postgraduate Research Day builds a supportive environment favourable for networking and knowledge exchange among young researchers, and encourages them to think about how explicitly engaging with impactful research can benefit their future careers in both academia and public engagement.

CUHK Science Faculty Hosts Lecture by Nobel Laureate on Faculty Research Day

The Faculty launched the premier event of physical-virtual hybrid Faculty Research Day with the theme of “Advancing Science through Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research and Collaboration” on 22 May 2021. “Sharing on Collaborative Research Fund” is another highlight in this year’s Research Day, an annual event in which researchers gather together to share ideas and experiences in advancing research and collaboration in the Faculty and University.

This year, we were honoured and very pleased to have Professor Randy W. SCHEKMAN from the University of California at Berkeley, a distinguished scientist and the 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine as the Keynote Speaker. Professor SCHEKMAN spoke on the topic “The Importance of Collaboration and Openness in Basic Science and Research Publication” and he shared that a more open and collaborative approach may make a difference in solving tough problems in scientific research. He also addressed the challenges that young scholars may face in their research career when asking authourshop as first-authour publication in a prestigious journal.

Leading researchers from different units, including Professor Ronald LUI in mathematics, Professor XIA Jiang in chemistry, and Professor WU Yilin in physics shared their interdisciplinary research for linking their various backgrounds with biological problems.

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ZOOM Into Science Online Lectures

Science is everywhere! The Faculty organised six “ZOOM into Science” Online Lectures in April and May 2021 to discover more about the exciting world of science with secondary school students. With the interesting topics and stimulating Q&A sessions after each lecture, the series received much support and attracted over 800 participants to join.