Teaching and Research
State Science and Technology Awards: A Rich Harvest of Scientific Awards
(From left) Dr Mo Li, Prof Yunhao Liu, Prof Nancy Ip, Prof Lionel Ni and Dr Zheng Yang.
(From left) Prof Bo Li, Prof Hai Yang and Prof Shing-chi Cheung.

Our scientists are making news again—this time by walking away with five coveted State Science and Technology Awards handed out by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. These honors represent the largest number of awards of this kind among tertiary institutions in Hong Kong this year.

Scientific researchers sometimes toil away for years in the laboratory without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, much less emerging into the spotlight. Often they toil alone. Other times they work in tandem with fellow scientists from other universities. Either way, it is a wonderful feeling when public recognition finally comes.

Our scientists may come from different disciplines. But they have the same goal, that of making discoveries important to different facets of human existence. Prof Nancy Ip, Dean of Science, for example, who won Second Class State Natural Science Award, was honored for her breakthrough work on the study of neurodegenerative diseases that afflict such a large swathe of humanity, notably Alheimzer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

For Profs Yunhao Liu, Lionel Ni and Drs Mo Li and Zheng Yang, all from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and all of whom won Second Class Awards, their focus has been on overcoming the uncertainty of wireless communications and their large overhead. After more than a decade of intensive work, they have come up with one of the world’s earliest range-free localization systems using RFID with pervasive applications including coal mine monitoring and ocean sensing.

The Internet has become the foundation of the Information age. Because of the demand for tremendous amount of network resources occasioned by the explosive growth of the Internet user population, Prof Bo Li, again from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and his Tsinghua University collaborators have developed a series of methodologies for network resource optimization, which have been commonly used in commercial systems. For this achievement, they too were given the Second Class Award.

A pressing problem that bedevils big urban centers is congested traffic flow. This is a problem to whose solution Prof Hai Yang of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and his collaborators from Beijing Jiaotong University, Beihang University and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have jointly devoted their research attention for over two decades. Their interdisciplinary research outcome has far-reaching impact on transportation theories and practices, earning them a much-deserved Second Class Award.

This year’s awards won by HKUST also include a State Scientific and Technological Progress Second Class Award which goes to Prof Shing-chi Cheung of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Again, this award-winning research was a joint effort by Prof Cheung who formed a research team with collaborators from Nanjing University. The award credits their range of innovations in Internetware technology, which have greatly enhanced the autonomy, reliability and synergy among different software. A significant feature of this collaboration is that it took in government departments and industry partners—a splendid example in the integration of academia, industry and government.