30 STORIES ON HKUST FACULTY, ALUMNI AND STUDENTS
It is the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s 30th Anniversary! Core to HKUST are our faculty, alumni and students, without whom our achievements over the years would not be made possible. In this booklet, there are 30 stories showcasing our research breakthroughs, teaching pedagogy, student whole-person development, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship, projecting a multifaceted HKUST that is beyond excellence. We thrive when we make an impact. By turning the pages, you will find everyone here at HKUST is unique and every story is worth telling.
CONTENTS 4 Pioneering Essential Protection for Public Health……Prof. YEUNG King-Lun 8 A True Voice for Sustainability……Eva CHUI 12 Leading a Maritime-technology Revolution……ZHANG Yunfei 16 What Fuels Dr. Fire?......Prof. Jason CHAN 20 Learning to Fly even Higher……Celia LAO 24 Driving to the Edges of Imagination……XIAO Jianxiong 28 Calling HKUST Home for Twenty Years……Prof. Ronald LAU 32 Transcending the Boundaries between Human and Machine……Sougwen CHUNG 36 A Peacekeeping, Humanitarian Hero……Kyu Tae KIM 40 The Man who Sees what we Don’t……Prof. LUK Kam-Biu 44 Empowered by the Potential of Overseas Study……Amirkhan BAILIN 48 There’s Always a way back to the Light……LEE Tsz-Fung 52 The Epitome of Brain Power……Prof. Nancy IP 56 Innovating for Positive Impact……Kevin LEUNG 60 A Tale of Three Brothers……Pierre, Francois, Frederic WIEDENMANN
64 Loving Teaching, Loving Life……Prof. Rhea LIEM 68 A Sustainable Sip of Innovation……Anushka PUROHIT 72 Keeping it in the Family……Terry and Terence TSANG 76 Living in a Material World……Prof. GAO Ping 80 Built to Share: A Virtual City for all to Visit……HUO Kaiyang 84 A Solar-powered Visionary……Prof. Henry YAN He 88 Living Life to a Unique Beat……Krishna JHANGIANI 92 A Fearless Trailblazer in her Field……Jenny YEUNG 96 Making Science Accessible for All……Prof. WANG Yi 100 Singing a Different Tune……Francis MOK 104 Turning Sewage and Sanitation into a Superpower……Prof. CHEN Guanghao 108 The Ultimate Balancing Act……CHOW Hiu-Yau 112 Scoring the Sounds of Science……YAN Bojun 116 Going with the Flow……Prof. ZHANG Xin 120 Diving even Deeper……Prof. HE Lisheng
PIONEERING ESSENTIAL PROTECTION FOR PUBLIC HEALTH Professor of Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and of Division of Environment and Sustainability; Director of HKUST-CIL Joint Laboratory of Environmental Health Technologies; Co-Director of HKUST ENVF-INA/LMA Joint Laboratory on Environment; and Director of France-HKUST Innovation Hub Prof. YEUNG King-Lun 楊經倫教授 PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Notre Dame
The field of chemical engineering has come into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic, as researchers around the world have applied their expertise to novel solutions to help fight the virus. One of HKUST’s Chemical Engineering faculty, Prof. Yeung King-Lun, is among them, developing an innovation that is the true culmination of his accomplished career. The challenges presented by COVID-19 have been a catalyst for cooperation and collaboration, with experts from various fields applying their unique skills to solving problems, especially around public health. An innovation that stood out internationally was the work of HKUST Prof. Yeung King-Lun and his team, who developed a new multilevel anti-microbial polymer coating that effectively kills or inactivates a range of bacteria, hard-to-kill spores, and 99.9 percent of highly infectious viruses — including the COVID-19 Omicron variant. MAP-∞, the new coating created by Prof. Yeung and his team in Hong Kong in 2022, works by contact-killing and preventing surface contamination through its anti-adhesion and selfcleaning properties. MAP-∞ is an upgraded version of MAP-1, an antimicrobial coating Prof. Yeung and his team co-developed and commercialized with Chiaphua Industries Limited (CIL). It is noteworthy that the path of innovation of Prof. Yeung intertwined with the public health incidents in Hong Kong over the years. Prof. Yeung first conceived the idea of a long-lasting antiviral coating as early as 1997, during the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak. The research started in 2003 during the SARS epidemic, and MAP-1 was created in 2020 during the outbreak of COVID-19. Led by Prof. Yeung, the research team behind MAP-1 recognized that the world needed to find more sustainable, long-lasting solutions for dealing with the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). Anti-microbial functionality had to become a part of future consumer products — the product they created was designed to meet that need. Unlike traditional disinfectants, MAP-∞ is effective for at least five years. Being non-toxic and safe for skin and the environment, it can be used in hand sanitizers, paints, air filter materials, water-purification elements, and surgical clothing and masks. The global pandemic has shone a light on the most vulnerable in our communities, and the ability to use MAP-∞ in places such as elderly homes, kindergartens, and schools goes a long way to ensuring greater peace of mind for many. 5
MAP is a smart coating in the sense that the coated surface area that was touched or contaminated will self-clean and self-disinfect, closing the loop in surface disinfection.
Prof. Yeung’s engineering mindset is evident in all his work and is a part of the research culture of HKUST. Thinking bigger, broader and with real-world impact front of mind, he continues to push possibilities to benefit people in all walks of life. He has also co-led an HKUST collaborative team to invent a mini pulsed electric field device that could reduce more than 90 percent of bacteria in running tap water in a few seconds, and led a team to develop a multifunctional hydrogel that is effective in treating odors at drainage locations. This technology is now being applied at drainage sites in collaboration with the Drainage Services Department. His team is also working with the relevant departments in Hong Kong to test new coatings on the inner walls of water pipes and sewers to prevent microbial contamination and pipe corrosion. Today, more than 300 educational, social welfare, and retail organizations in Hong Kong have used Prof. Yeung’s innovations. Perpetually celebrated and recognized for his research, and with his growing list of achievements yielding great impact, Prof. Yeung shows no signs of slowing and will continue to innovate to benefit future generations and society at large. It is remarkable to think that this homegrown Hong Kong can play an important part in combatting one of the world’s deadliest pandemics. What Prof. Yeung has accomplished is a shining example of cooperation between industry, academia, research institutions, and government bodies to accelerate the commercialization of research and development achievements. The HKUST-CIL Joint Laboratory of Environmental Health Technologies has been instrumental in translating laboratory research and concepts for innovative environmental health technologies into tangible products that address urgent community needs, creating tremendous societal and commercial value. 7
A TRUE VOICE FOR SUSTAINABILITY Intern at HKUST's Sustainability/Net-Zero Office; and Musical Theatre Singer Eva CHUI 徐鰻泓 BSc in Chemistry, minoring in Sustainability, HKUST
The growing importance of sustainability has led to greater awareness of issues facing our planet, but to student Eva Chui awareness achieves nothing without action. As a consummate doer, she is committed to being an active part of the solutions, acting as an inspiring role model and singing the benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle to all who will listen. She may regularly sing her heart out on the HKUST stage to many a rapt audience, but Eva Chui is so much more than a sensational voice. Since becoming an intern for the university’s sustainability initiatives, she has been determined to make a difference. With a boosted sense of purpose and surrounded by like minds, Eva is hopeful that real change is at last on its way. In her role as intern, Eva offers marketing and outreach support to the Sustainability/Net-Zero Office’s various initiatives. She has taken charge of the office’s social media platforms and her communications engage the campus community in HKUST’s sustainable development goals. One of the initiatives that Eva is supporting is “Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab,” which seeks to transform the university campus into an active platform for learning, experimenting, and advancing new ideas and approaches with sustainability as a guiding principle. The “living laboratory” framework emphasizes home-grown HKUST project ideas, and nothing could be better suited to Eva’s own discovery that, first, change must come from within. Eva hasn’t always been a fervent environmentalist. When she first chose to major in Chemistry, she picked up a course in Sustainability out of interest. At this point, she was as much of a fast-fashion and convenience lifestyle consumer as the next person. Regularly buying cheap clothes online, she had little concern about the impact of her choices. 9
The world is shaped by your actions, not your opinions. When I see a problem, I live the solution.
Showing no signs of slowing down her sustainability efforts any time soon, Eva is the epitome of someone who will make changes and take action towards her dreams. Her other love, musical theatre, is no different, and through the HKUST alumni network, she found a kindred spirit who shares this passion. Edwin WAN, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Global Business and Management of Organizations, was a banker, but chose to change his direction by heading to the UK to study musical theatre. The two connected, and their exchanges and discussions inspired Eva to explore the possibility of pursuing a musical theatre degree overseas after her HKUST graduation in 2022. Eva’s time at HKUST has taught her to think about issues from very different perspectives and consider possibilities she never could have imagined. She credits her sustainability course with changing how she sees her role in the world, and performing as the lead actor in the 2021 HKUST Musical! with encouraging her love of musical theatre. While the two may seem worlds away, they’re united by Eva’s commitment to taking action, and she continues to inspire those around her to do the same. This musical theatre singer has a social and environmental conscience as big as her musical talent — she is a striking example of the power of individual actions. Everything changed at her first “Introduction to Sustainability” lecture. She abruptly came to recognize the privileges, advantages, and opportunities we have living in a resource-rich region, and she was inspired with a new sense of responsibility to make positive changes and take action, asking herself, “If not now, when? If not us, who?” To combat environmental pollution, Eva stopped buying new clothes and chose to only buy secondhand, or to swap clothes with friends. She reduced how much meat she ate, and completely stopped consuming beef and lamb for its environmental impact, alongside minimizing her consumption habits in general. By publishing social media videos with vegan and vegetarian recipes, she hopes to encourage others to adopt healthier, more sustainable diets, too. But Eva felt compelled to do even more, and, knowing there’s power in numbers, she joined the HKUST Green Team, a collective interested in creating a more sustainable campus environment. Following a particularly bad typhoon season in Hong Kong, the shoreline on campus became an issue of concern for Green Team members. The beach was covered in trash, so as a Green Team Leader, Eva sent out a call to arms to her fellow students for a beach cleanup. Expecting two dozen people to join her efforts, she was astounded when, after two days, over 200 people had signed up to help. The cleanup gave her a glimmer of hope about what could be possible when people work together. 11
LEADING A MARITIMETECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION Founder and President of Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligence Technology Ltd. ZHANG Yunfei 張雲飛 PhD in Mechanical Engineering (2020), HKUST MPhil in Mechanical Engineering (2009), HKUST
Throughout Zhang Yunfei’s life, his imagination has spiraled up into the clouds, plunged deep into the ocean, and eventually rocketed outwards into the creation of a unicorn company. His journey to success was an illuminating one, through postgraduate study and on to entrepreneurship, and one of the most significant discoveries the young entrepreneur made along the way was recognizing the value of a supportive learning and research environment. As an HKUST alumnus, he saw first-hand the benefits of accessible, well-managed state of the art research facilities, and it was also at HKUST where he cultivated the hobbies and interests that would carry him on to his rewarding career — and onto the high seas! 13 Before he became a world-leading mechanical engineer for unmanned ships, Zhang Yunfei was a curious and inquisitive boy growing up in Shenzhen, obsessed with tinkering with machines and his toys, to try and understand what made them tick. He built his first ship model with his father when he was at primary school. In middle school, he moved on to technology interest groups and building model ships with classmates for competitions. In his boyhood, Yunfei found himself firmly on course for a future in technology. When he arrived at HKUST, he was hopeful, driven, and armed with a lifetime’s worth of curiosity. While many of his peers were looking up to the clouds and focused on building drones, Yunfei set his sights on a different frontier — the ocean. Joining forces with a group of like-minded friends, he set about pushing the limits, by creating an unmanned surface vehicle (USV). The team converted a model ship into a USV fitted with sensors and instruments for sampling water quality, before setting it sailing from Clear Water Bay. At first, the group intended to use USVs to detect water quality parameters, but fate had other plans.
water quality and clean-up initiatives, confirming his hypotheses and giving him the confidence he needed to take the next big step in his work. Yunfei and his teammates embarked on their entrepreneurial journey in 2010 by founding Yunzhou. It was one of a handful of companies around the globe specializing in ocean-going drones that operate on the surface. They eagerly began research and development work using their prize money from competitions and fundings, but before long they ran into trouble. The market response was lukewarm, and financial pressure made some team members leave the company. The USV team began entering entrepreneurship competitions, including the HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition, where they learned about business concepts such as market positioning, and market demand. They received invaluable support from HKUST in acquiring technological know-how and entrepreneurial skills. Equipped with a sense of steely determination and purpose, Yunfei knew there was a market gap that he and his friends could fill, and he went on a market-research trip to more than ten Chinese provinces with serious water pollution. He studied how USVs were being used to monitor HKUST gave me maximum freedom and a dynamic learning and growth environment.
15 Yunfei and the remaining team were undeterred. In 2013, they won the China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. This was a huge turning point for the company, with their products going on to be used in response to the fallout from the Tianjin Port explosion and Gansu mine leakage, and to monitor water pollution in Xixia County, Henan, and the Tibetan lakes. With these remarkable achievements, Yunzhou secured financial support and expanded to more than 40 countries and regions around the world. By 2022, it had delivered about 3,000 USVs and smart rescuing devices, including a rigorously-tested boat drone that was deployed to map the ocean floor in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Through their ocean-going drones, the company is actively and positively changing the relationship that human beings have with the sea. Currently, they are developing unmanned boat swarm control technology, which can be integrated into the collaborative system of unmanned platform operating in air, sea and submersible. This technology represents the future of marine unmanned intelligent equipment and will allow for greater ocean exploration. Powered by AI and other technological advances, Yunfei’s vision for the future continues to grow, but he’s also looking back. Believing that you can’t succeed with a narrow focus on only your own professional field, as an HKUST alumnus, he wants to ensure those following his footsteps have the space to give their own imaginations free rein and seek to understand other disciplines, such as finance and marketing. He has gifted two Dolphin 1 surface rescue vehicles to HKUST, leaving the software open for students to study, explore, and — he hopes — eventually come up with new algorithms and creations. Yunfei advocates big dreams as drivers of industry innovation. He hopes engineering students will aspire to be pioneers by following their interests and leading unique niches of research and innovation. With the USV industry still in its early stages of development, Yunfei plans to launch a platform strategy that will make the company’s technology more accessible, deepening cooperation and integration within the industry. Guided by his unshakeable spirit, it’s likely we’ll see Yunzhou riding the waves for years to come.
WHAT FUELS DR. FIRE? Assistant Professor of Science Education; and Lecturer I of Department of Chemistry Prof. Jason CHAN 陳鈞傑教授 PhD in Bioorganic Chemistry, University of St Andrews
Chemistry is at the core of everything Prof. Jason Chan does, whether it’s studying the reactions between elements or relishing the feeling of engaging with others. And he has found unique and inspiring ways to share his love of science with a new generation. Like a sorcerer poised over a cauldron, Dr. Fire holds solutions of metal salts over the flickering fire before him. With an elegant swish, he sprays the solutions over the flame, making them spark and glow in a kaleidoscope of colors. It might look like magic, but it’s chemistry — and how he earned the "Dr. Fire" moniker. Known to students and colleagues at HKUST as Prof. Jason Chan, Dr. Fire is more than a beloved faculty member, he’s a sought-after popular-science 17 speaker. His famous experiments and exciting demonstrations have rippled out far beyond the HKUST campus, to TV shows, social media, and museum seminars. But Dr. Fire’s rising star power hasn’t diminished his down-to-earth, approachable, and open demeanor. Students are more motivated to learn when they find a subject interesting, and making science interesting is exactly what Dr. Fire aims to do. In "Chemistry in Everyday Life", a foundational course for students with little to no background in chemistry, he encourages students to carry out their own everyday chemical experiments in groups. From growing crystals to making tofu pudding, these demonstrate scientific principles in a relaxed, safe and fun learning environment. The demonstrations bring the content to life in a way that truly engages young minds with the potential and significance of chemistry.
that he himself went through as an International Chemistry Olympiad bronze medalist in Team Great Britain back in 2004. No matter how hectic his schedule is, Dr. Fire is still able to make time for promoting popular science. When he was invited by the Don Bosco Salesians’ Dr. Fire is devoted to inspiring young minds beyond HKUST. He has been providing training courses to the students at the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education, and is delighted to see them competing as members of the Hong Kong team and being awarded medals in the International Olympiad of Metropolises — a remarkable journey I am passionate about experiential learning, where students can be fully engaged in a personal and hands-on project and be inspired by the experience.
19 Vox Amica Press to write a chemistry column in The Joyful Vanguard, a magazine distributed via the school network to primary and secondary students, he immediately said yes. The column “The Chemist’s Pilgrimage” is an innovative idea of Dr. Fire where he discusses chemistry topics in the context of visiting Catholic churches, such as colorful stained glass church windows, the smoke and aroma of frankincense and the green dome of a Venetian church, all with funny experiment videos to stimulate young readers’ interest in science. He has made it his personal mission to bridge the gap between popular perceptions of science and how much fun learning it can really be. In the HK SciFest 2019, organized by the Hong Kong Science Museum, he was enthusiastically joined by his students in hosting an interactive outdoor exhibition booth to share amazing stories and experiments of chemical elements with the public. It was the year that marked the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev’s creation of his periodic table, which the United Nations commemorated in a worldwide, yearlong celebration: the International Year of the Periodic Table. Dr. Fire also devised a demonstration series at the Museum during 2019 that covered the entire Periodic Table, he particularly cherishes the moments where the participants were eager to receive one of his beautifully designed HKUST Periodic Table poster that he handed out after every Museum event. Back then when he headed to the UK after Form 3, Dr. Fire was fondly introduced to his new classmates as a “mad scientist” by the Headmaster. He followed his call, and headed to Cambridge University as an undergraduate and eventually completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of St Andrews before he found his way to teaching at HKUST. Here, he found the right balance to thrive. “What I love about HKUST is that we have an amazing learning and research environment right here in Hong Kong that has the same intensity and character of the international institutions where I studied previously,” says Dr. Fire. Supported by HKUST, Dr. Fire continues to make his subject accessible and engaging, and provides a well-rounded approach to learning, with cross-faculty and cross-institutional collaborations. His commitment to teaching has been nurtured and recognized with the HKUST Common Core Teaching Excellence Award in 2016 and the UGC Teaching Award in 2018; while his contributions to the promotion of science in the community were recognized by a Commendation Award from the Secretary for Home Affairs in June 2022. He wants his students to embrace and love learning as much as he does. “Science is very important,” he says, “and we have to pass on this science education to the future generation with passion.” Through his lectures and media appearances, Dr. Fire shares his view of chemistry as a way of understanding the world around us. As he says, “We cannot escape chemistry. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the way our bodies function — chemistry really is all around us!”
LEARNING TO FLY EVEN HIGHER CEO of Hong Kong & Macao, AirAsia Group Celia LAO 劉小媛 Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA
CEO of AirAsia Hong Kong and Macao, Celia Lao, believes in the power of lifelong learning and is testament to how even the most visionary and accomplished leaders can take their expertise to the next level with further study. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy and dynamism of the international travel industry can feel like a distant memory. But travel is in Celia Lao’s blood, and she has a steadfast commitment to the sector and work she loves. For nearly two decades, she’s worked in the airline and aviation industry, including 18 years with AirAsia, where for the last 5 years she’s been the CEO of Hong Kong and Macao. She was AirAsia’s first employee in Greater China, and her work has seen her solidify her expertise in government and airport affairs, regulatory compliances, marketing strategy, negotiation, and operations. It was when Celia was promoted to her current position as CEO that she saw the company’s business challenges holistically and realized that intellectual stimulation would be key to her success. To help her business thrive and survive, she would need to acquire new skills, build a global network, and advance her career as a high-impact leader. Setting her sights on an Executive MBA, she was relentless in her criteria: quality program content, structure, academics, classmate profiles, and university culture. The world-class Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA, jointly offered by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the HKUST Business School, fitted the bill perfectly. 21
The course’s motto, “High Impact, Low Ego”, resonated with Celia, who found herself in the company of peers with an average of 16 years’ prior work experience in a wide range of backgrounds. Intellectually curious, Celia has always been studious, even as a child. Born in Guangdong, she moved with her family to Macao when she was five years old. A model student, she found many opportunities waiting when she graduated in 1995 but felt she needed to improve her communication skills further. Embarking on a degree in marketing, and discovering a fascination with diplomacy, she The Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA is passionate about its mantra to be a ‘High Impact, Low Ego’ program, which means I will be able to see immediate parallels with what I learn and experience at work. searched for a job that would bring these things together. The year she graduated, Macau International Airport opened its doors, and she leapt at the chance to be at the forefront of aviation for the SAR. A few years later, it was her initiative to approach the AirAsia Group CEO to present Macao as an option for the airline, and she secured the role of Country Manager. From there, AirAsia, and Celia’s, success grew. COVID-19 hit a week after Celia started her EMBA in January 2020. Suddenly, the world turned upside down. Classes went online, passenger air travel stopped, and an unparalleled crisis
23 loomed. Diversification was imperative, and Celia stepped up to the challenge swiftly. Seeing how the company needed to switch strategies quickly, she realized the challenge was to embrace being a non-airline business, almost overnight. She sought support from Kellogg-HKUST which connected her with alumni, and senior professionals around the world, who offered their counsel. She spoke with logistics and tech experts, and was able to develop a strategy that worked, turning the company into an e-commerce platform specializing in cargo, food and beverage, logistics, and more. Humbled by how the alumni were willing to help, Celia describes those she met, spoke to, and worked with as like family — even though she’d only been a student for a week! The experience was defining for her: “I’m totally flexible and scared of nothing these days,” she says. “I know that whatever I want to dive into, I have this big pool of professionals behind me.” Attending the program enabled Celia to upgrade her skills and knowledge both inside and outside the classroom. She was excited to learn from world-class professors, join engaging class discussions and group projects, and meet remarkable people during networking events. Seeing the parallels and being able to transfer her learning to her work immediately has been the confirmation she needed that she made the right choice. As a result, as the world begins to open up to travel once more, Celia, and AirAsia Hong Kong and Macao, are poised and ready for a new age of aviation.
DRIVING TO THE EDGES OF IMAGINATION Founder and CEO of AutoX Technologies XIAO Jianxiong 肖健雄 PhD in Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MPhil in Computer Science and Engineering (2009), HKUST BEng in Computer Science (2007), HKUST
Every day it seems we move closer to what were once just futuristic imaginings. Among them are self-driving cars. Xiao Jianxiong, known as Professor X in the AI industry, has been steering and accelerating autonomous vehicle development, bringing together entrepreneurial spirit and engineering innovation. Dressed for a business meeting and wheeling a piece of luggage to the curb, a pedestrian waits on the side of the road for the taxi she has just called. A spacious white car pulls up slowly, its boot opening for her suitcase. As she climbs into the vehicle and buckles herself in, she leans forward to press "GO". The car whirs into motion — seemingly by magic, as this car has no driver. This is a RoboTaxi in the Mainland, created by AutoX, the brainchild of innovator, entrepreneur, and technology pioneer, Xiao Jianxiong. The pursuit of self-driving cars continues to consume some of engineering’s best and brightest minds — and with good reason: autonomous vehicles have the potential to open up the future of smart driving and smart cities, which will eventually transform our ways of living. Professor X, an HKUST alumnus, has been making the impossible possible with his mission of democratizing autonomy and accelerating the reality of driverless cars. He wants to make self-driving cars as widely accessible as computers are today — and he’s well on his way. His company, AutoX, has the largest fleet of automated robocars in the Mainland and is currently the only one operating the service on public roads without safety drivers. In 2019, AutoX became only the second company in the world to be permitted by the California Public Utilities Commission to operate a RoboTaxi pilot program. 25
During his childhood in Chaozhou, an Eastern-Chinese city, Xiao’s family did not have much in the way of finances, but he was fascinated by computers. Reading books about them, he couldn’t believe some machines could encode knowledge, logic, and reason. He didn’t have a computer but drew a keyboard on a sheet of paper and learned to touch-type. It was only natural that Xiao chose to study Engineering and Computer Science at HKUST. Soft-spoken, his quiet demeanor belies his fiery focus and resourcefulness. His steely But to understand how Professor X has managed to steer driverless cars off the page and onto the road, you have to look at his background. Hailing from over 10 years of research and engineering experience across computer vision, autonomous driving, and robotics, Professor X has also been a leader in the fields of 3D deep learning, big data, RGD-D recognition and mapping, large-scale crowdsourcing, and deep learning for robotics. That broad spectrum of skills and expertise culminated in his work at AutoX and is supported by his personal story of determination. Our mission is to accelerate the advent of fully driverless cars. Self-driving cars are going to completely revolutionize the auto industry and how everyone moves around the world. This is one of the biggest challenges and opportunities of our generation.
27 determination and innovative spirit served him well in his PhD at MIT, his subsequent teaching at Princeton, and the founding of his company. AutoX employs advanced artificial intelligence with ultra-high-resolution sensors mounted on the cars, allowing them to steer even more effectively. Their Gen5 system, for example, enables RoboTaxis to detect delivery scooters several hundred meters behind the vehicles. In 2020, AutoX established an 80,000-square-foot RoboTaxi operations center in Shanghai. The center collects and processes data from daily operations and simulations — tech that acts as the backbone of the company. To date, AutoX has built a network of over 10 RoboTaxi operations centers in major cities and five research and development centers around the world. Professor X has published numerous papers that outline how his team teaches machines to understand and interact with the world. As an expert in deep learning, Professor X’s unique approach continues to give AutoX an edge over competitors — and gain recognition for his innovation. He has been named on the MIT Technology Review’s "35 Innovators Under 35" list — a remarkable recognition for someone whose innovation is driving the future of mobility.
CALLING HKUST HOME FOR TWENTY YEARS Associate Professor of Business Education; Senior Lecturer of Department of Information Systems, Business Statistics and Operations Management; and Undergraduate Program Coordinator (Operations Management) Prof. Ronald LAU 劉紹民教授 PhD in Management Science, The University of Alabama
Prof. Ronald Lau has spent over two decades at HKUST. While the university has been a rich chapter in his professional career, it has also been the backdrop to his family life: his four sons grew up on campus and chose to study at the university themselves. Prof. Ronald Lau was teaching in the US when he got a call from HKUST looking for a professor with his international business and pedagogical experience. He packed up his young family and relocated to Hong Kong. Impressed by HKUST’s culture of research and multicultural campus, and thrilled to find Hong Kong students were ambitious, knowledgeable, and eager to learn, Prof. Lau put down roots with his family and set to work here sharing his specialized expertise in operations management. Operations management is an area of business concerned with managing the process of creating goods and services. Prioritizing efficiency and looking for ways to improve is something Prof. Lau has always applied in his life. Having previously worked as a costs and operations analyst, he frequently draws upon his own experiences in his teaching, and, as his sons attest, he shares his wisdom at home, too. “When we were young, dad would make us evaluate the efficiency of our grocery shopping. How many boxes of cereal and milk should we buy — and how fast could we finish them before they all expired?” says Michael, Prof. Lau’s second son, “We were trained to think rationally from a young age.” 29
At HKUST I have had the freedom to adapt my teaching to respond to the real world, adopt a teaching style that resonates, and collaborate with colleagues to develop content and teaching that is most valuable to our students. Even to this day, dinner-table conversation in the Lau household often revolves around what makes a business successful. Unsurprisingly, all four sons followed their father to HKUST — even taking some of his courses. “Even though we had been taught business indirectly for 20 years,” says Joshua, Prof. Lau’s eldest son, “we would all still try our best to attend dad’s classes after we were accepted to HKUST.” Each son has gratefully experienced the diversity of the HKUST student community. “The community is diverse, ambitious, and creative,” says Nathan, Prof. Lau’s youngest son. He and his brothers have a unique and valuable perspective on the world that continues to serve them in their academic and work lives. This is something they share with their father. “Diversity at HKUST is night and day compared to my time in the US 40 years ago,” comments Prof. Lau. “It is something we should not take for granted and must strive to maintain if the university wants to remain competitive on a global level.”
to the classroom examples of familiar household names. I challenged my students to come up with solutions to real, closer-to-life scenarios and situations. As such, students’ interest in the subjects shot up to another level,” says Prof. Lau. Today, he continues to use case studies to help students develop essential business skills like critical thinking and problem solving, sharing that, “If you can’t frame your problem correctly, you’re solving the wrong problem.” HKUST’s emphasis on quality teaching continues to benefit students, as learning environments have become even more engaging and supportive. “I would say the business education at HKUST is a holistic one. The combination of hard skills and soft skills has set me up for my career in the supply chain software profession,” says Matthew, Prof. Lau’s third son. The university’s direction is one that Prof. Lau wholeheartedly endorses. He sees huge potential for the SBM to contribute to future innovation, believing that start-ups would need more than science and technology, and business knowledge and management know-how would pave their road to success. Seeing the potential of the Greater Bay Area, how technology and R&D innovations will boom in this part of the world, and how HKUST and the newly established HKUST (Guangzhou) campus can play a larger role in the development of the region, Prof. Lau feels that even after 20 years and a Long Service Award, he always has more to look forward to. When he started at HKUST in 2001, Prof. Lau remembers teaching in a more traditional, formulaic way, but during his time, he has helped to shape some positive evolutions in his department and the School of Business and Management (SBM). For example, while teaching case studies of traditional North American models would be easy, the storylines and challenges facing those businesses are not easily understood by students living outside the US, which made localization a priority in his classes. “Case studies are very useful tools in business schools, but we are here in Hong Kong, and so I found it important to localize our cases so that our students would get a better understanding. I brought 31
TRANSCENDING THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN HUMAN AND MACHINE Artist and Researcher; and Former Research Fellow at MIT’s Media Lab Sougwen CHUNG 鍾愫君 PhD in Individualized Interdisciplinary Program (Computational Media and Arts), HKUST(GZ)
A pioneer in the field of human–machine collaboration, Sougwen Chung does not shy away from the big questions. Bridging the worlds of art, science, and imagination, she explores the awe-inspiring intersection of humankind and machines. Dressed in black, pacing the red carpet of the iconic TED Talk stage, Sougwen Chung asks a captivated audience, “If machines are starting to be able to do the work traditionally done by humans, what will become of the human hand? How does our desire for perfection, precision, and automation affect our ability to be creative?” They are big questions — and exactly the type Chinese–Canadian artist and researcher Sougwen is excited to explore. In her work, she examines marks made by hand and marks made by machine to decipher the relationship dynamics of humans, computers, and the environment. It is a unique approach spanning installation, robotics, sculpture, drawing, and performance. Sougwen’s research explores the potential of human creativity and emerging technologies, disregarding the false binaries between human and machine, natural and artificial intelligence. For Sougwen, collaboration is the key to creating space for both AI and humans in the future, and she has pioneered a novel canvas for exploring this relationship: painting alongside robots. She calls her work “embodied AI.” Bent over 33 a canvas, brush in hand, alongside robots armed with their own brushes, she responds to their movements as they respond to hers. Human and machine become partners in a fluid, poetic process. Sougwen’s desire to bring physical gesture and creative agency into her work with computers harks back to the gestural instincts she first developed drawing and playing the violin. The child of an opera singer and a computer programmer, Sougwen embodies the processes and innovations of both art and technology. When using software to create art, Sougwen has found a release in the medium of performance — she views robots as kinetic sculptures. Interdisciplinary to her core, she sees the interplay of technology and creativity as part of an important philosophical discussion about what constitutes art.
I really felt HKUST (Guangzhou) was a place I could continue to be a pioneering voice, in a new field that is connected with my roots.
and she realized, “Our imperfections became what was beautiful about the interaction.” There have been three generations of DOUG since, with each becoming a real-time interactive reflection of Sougwen’s life and work — and a participant. A perpetual pioneer, Sougwen enrolled in a postgraduate course in Computational Media and Arts at HKUST (Guangzhou) in 2021 to further her work. Originally from Guangzhou, she is excited to bridge the contrasting notions of tradition and technology in her research, and to experience a “coming home”. During her course at HKUST(GZ), she has continued to blur the lines between art, technology, and science in her independent research, and found new opportunities to catalyze the development of her work, “I really felt HKUST was a place I could continue to be a pioneering voice, in a new field that is connected with my roots.” Supported by faculty who themselves are creative, openminded, and interested in intersections, Sougwen has found interdisciplinary support and a fount of inspiration. As Sougwen says, “Maybe the future of human creativity is not in what it makes but how it comes together to explore new ways of making.” Collaboration can incite demonstrations of control and dominance, but it can also reveal generosity and kindness. “We should be designing these technologies to make us, and the world, better,” says Sougwen. “To achieve this goal, art and technology are a natural pairing. They both reflect the culture in which they are made, and both have the power to profoundly shape the future we want to see.” Step inside Sougwen’s studio and you will find a mess of paints, canvases, and brushes entangled with spaces and components for robotics and machine learning. She has worked with robots since 2015, painting in a process she describes as part team effort, part improvised dance. Before COVID-19 hit, Sougwen led these AIassisted painting performances in front of live audiences. All this work stems from her first, simple experiment: Drawing Operations Unit Generation 1, or “DOUG” for short. When Sougwen built DOUG, she intended to take the lead, with the robot following — as she drew a line, DOUG would mimic her line. But then something unexpected happened. DOUG was primitive, slipping and sliding, and unable to track her line perfectly. Sougwen and DOUG began to respond to one another, 35
A PEACEKEEPING, HUMANITARIAN HERO Protection Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Kyu Tae KIM 金奎泰 BSc in Biotechnology (2021), HKUST
HKUST alumnus Kyu Tae Kim's desire to make a difference and help others has seen him provide aid and contribute to peace in countries affected by some of the world’s most complex conflicts and natural disasters. Since 2013, the conflict in South Sudan has led to millions of people being displaced. With limited access to water, essential health services, farms, and markets, the people of the region desperately need humanitarian assistance. This is where Kyu Tae Kim, at the time a UN Peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), found himself, in a town called Akobo in 2019, when he was taking a gap year from HKUST. UN Peacekeepers are tasked with many responsibilities. They are dedicated to protecting civilians, actively preventing conflicts, reducing violence, strengthening security, and empowering national authorities to also assume these responsibilities. Kyu Tae thought of his role as a privilege and could see a future in the humanitarian field. It was during the UNMISS that he saw airplanes 37 displaying the Red Cross emblem near the compound where he was staying. Kyu Tae was captivated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers as they rushed in and out, transporting wounded civilians, caught up in the conflict between the government and rebel forces, to nearby health facilities. Kyu Tae, seeing the purpose and devotion of the ICRC workers, realized he was witnessing incredibly important work. Back in Hong Kong, where he was studying a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology at HKUST, Kyu Tae couldn’t shake what he had experienced in South Sudan. He wondered if and how he could build a career in the humanitarian sector. But luckily for Kyu Tae, his destiny presented itself in the form of a unique traineeship. In 2018, HKUST and ICRC established a partnership to offer HKUST students an international traineeship opportunity at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It involved working full-time for one year at the headquarters through the HKUST Connect Student Civic Fellowship Program. Kyu Tae applied, and when he received the acceptance email, he knew his dream was coming to fruition.
professional at every step, furthering his personal and career development. Kyu Tae describes the ICRC as “the greatest institution in the humanitarian sector”. He adds, “it’s the first international humanitarian agency established, with over 150 years of history, and its operations are mandated by the Geneva Conventions with hundreds of signatory states… ICRC does activities that nobody else does, like visiting detainees in conflict zones — the last person anyone would care for... We are literally on the front line fighting against inhumanity.” In 2020-2021, the traineeship opened many doors for Kyu Tae, and he was excited to find it was not like an ordinary internship. He was given responsibility in his role with the Resource Mobilization Division: he once prepared and accompanied the first-ever meeting between ICRC Director-General and South Korean lawmakers, and counseled the team on the engagement, which contributed to South Korea’s continued political and financial support to the organization. Surrounded by colleagues who shared his positive vision for the future, he was encouraged to be diligent and There are so many great people here who are genuinely passionate about their job and really care about the world we are living in. People influence each other, and I’ve found my colleagues’ vision for the future of the world has inspired me.
39 Recognizing how his work in Geneva also benefits people in Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Kyu Tae found it satisfying to know that he was still contributing to the community and culture he came from, by protecting civilians caught in armed conflicts, through the provision of essential health care, access to education, family reunification, and more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyu Tae was amazed to see how the ICRC team adapted to continue to help the people they served, but he found it sobering that the pandemic continues to exacerbate issues for refugees and displaced people. Kyu Tae is undeterred in his commitment to becoming a humanitarian and credits the HKUST traineeship with helping him make the transition to a career. He’s always thrived outside of his comfort zone, but the trainee position gave him an opportunity for international experience and exposure, and the confidence to see what he is capable of. After his traineeship, Kyu Tae continued to follow his humanitarian calling, taking the role of Protection Delegate at the ICRC in northeast Nigeria. He is now in charge of running a program for relatives of missing families, providing them with protection, and mental health and psychosocial support services. It’s clear that whatever happens next, Kyu Tae dares to make a difference.
THE MAN WHO SEES WHAT WE DON’T IAS Paul C W Chu Professor, Chair Professor of Department of Physics, HKUST; and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley Prof. LUK Kam-Biu 陸錦標教授 PhD in Experimental Particle Physics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
What does it mean to devote your life to something invisible? For Prof. Luk KamBiu, science is all about uncovering the unseen and revealing the universe’s hidden truths — something his work epitomizes. Becoming a world-renowned physicist means embracing the enigmatic, pushing every boundary, and having out-of-this world resilience. In recent history, few deserve the recognition as much as the experimental particle physicist Prof. Luk Kam-Biu. He has had a lifelong interest in physics, and he learnt to build models and even telescopes as a child. Admitting he was “not very good at memorizing names and vocabulary” at school, Prof. Luk says he was a hands-on learner and spent his childhood deconstructing things to understand their mechanisms. He eliminated biology and chemistry from his future path early on and applied himself with gusto to the field of physics. Fast-forward to the early 1980s when Prof. Luk was studying a PhD in 41 experimental particle physics in the United States, and he was hot on the heels of the universe’s most elusive particle: the neutrino. Why do scientists care so much about these tiny particles? Prof. Luk said, “They are fundamentally tied to our existence. Our bodies are made up of ordinary matter — biological cells all the way down to atoms and smaller still to elementary particles, one of which is the neutrino.” Sixty-five billion neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of your body every second. These “shy” and even “ghostly” particles are capable of changing their character while travelling through space, a behavior known as neutrino oscillation. Prof. Luk uses a simile to explain this characteristic: “Neutrinos are like magicians. They can change their identity right in front of us.” Since neutrinos are invisible and pass through the earth with barely an impact, they are indescribably difficult to detect, let alone study. Locked within the mysteries of the neutrino are clues about our universe and the secrets of human existence. © The Regents of the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Through a series of technical breakthroughs, including designing and constructing detector modules, the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment became the most sensitive among all competing experiments. In 2012, Prof. Luk and colleagues from across the world announced their discovery of a new type of neutrino oscillation, observed deep underground in Daya Bay. This tremendously successful and important experiment profoundly influences the future of particle physics — it provides a crucial key to understanding how neutrinos change identity, and will allow scientists to compare neutrino and antineutrino So how do you catch something as elusive as a neutrino? You build a trap. Prof. Luk started with looking for the perfect conditions and found that the Daya Bay nuclear power facility’s surroundings and high power output made it an excellent place to conduct neutrino experiments, designed to "trap" record-breaking number of the ghostly particles for carrying out highprecision measurements related to the particles’ oscillation. Researchers from all over the world, including the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Energy, clambered on board to participate in this experiment. To me, research is like solving puzzles — and the eureka moment is just fantastic. Both the process and the end result excite me and make me look forward to different challenges.ebookshelf.hkust.edu.hk