Teaching and Research
Science for Lunch — A Feast for the Mind

The university, as a center of education, hosts many talks and lectures. Usually, they take place in classrooms or lecture halls. But Mr Maximilian Ma, Council Member and Vice Chair of its Institutional Advancement and Outreach Committee has a delicious idea for busy entrepreneurs: why can't we dine and learn at the same time? Thus was born the never-before-tried format of 'Science for Lunch'. Behind this idea was a third ingredient: by hosting six lunch-lectures, he brought together some of HKUST's creative scientific minds and the city's entrepreneurs looking for an innovative edge to their business. This is a mouthwatering way to take science and technology out of the ivory tower into the community.

Leading off on 19 October 2011 was Prof Pascale Fung who spoke passionately to an enthralled audience on cloud computing. She was followed by Prof King-Lun Yeung on 'Smart Materials for Better Health and Environment' on 23 November 2011. Prof Yeung pioneered the development of smart antimicrobials as a disinfectant for the air, water and all types of surfaces. Early in 2012, Prof Weijia Wen introduced his new ideas for new nano materials for industry applications, of which the 'smart gel' that can change opacity and transparency of windows depending on their surface temperature sounds like something out of science fiction. Perhaps the subject least compatible with a gourmet lunch is that of slush treatment. But in the hands of Prof Guanghao Chen, his audience lapped up his innovative green wastewater treatment technology without losing any appetite.

Then came Prof Kei-May Lau's turn, who shined a spotlight on Intelligent Lighting Systems using LED on Silicon technology. This new technology has wide applications to micro-display in mobile electronics, intelligent traffic systems, and e-books.

Bringing down the curtain on the lunch series was Prof Randy Poon who has a novel way of understanding cancer cells. According to Prof Poon, cells in our body divide as long as we live. Defect in this cell division process is one of the key causes of cancer. This new understanding may contribute to the identification of better drugs for the treatment of cancer, a major human affliction.

This lunch series became so popular that organizers had to turn away many would-be attendees. Across lunch tables, talks of collaboration between our scientists and interested entrepreneurs were brewing, thanks to Mr Ma who not only fathered the idea but also generously sponsored the entire series.