Dean's Message
Summer 2012  No.22
Celebrating SENG's Dynamism
Distinguished Research Excellence Award

Prof Tongyi Zhang
Mechanical Engineering

The award honors a member of faculty with exceptional research achievements and significant impact locally and globally. It is the most prestigious of the SENG Research Excellence Awards, with the winner invited to deliver a public lecture, a distinction in itself.

Prof Zhang, who gained his PhD at the University of Science and Technology Beijing, joined HKUST in 1993. During his time at HKUST, he has undertaken leading research in the interdisciplinary area between materials science and solid mechanics, with his work having significant impact on the academic world.

Areas he has shone fresh light on include piezoelectric fracture, micro-nanomechanics, mechanical characterization of thin film, diffusion and permeation, among other areas. He has been awarded numerous international honors and was recently elected a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Membership of the Academy is the highest academic title that can be conferred on a scholar by the Chinese government for achievements in science and technology. He is also Director of the Hong Kong-Beijing UST Joint Research Center.

Honorable Mention

In addition, Prof Gordon McKay, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received an Honorable Mention in the Distinguished Research Excellence Award category in recognition of his outstanding achievements.

Research Excellence Award

Prof Vladimir Chigrinov
Electronic and Computer Engineering

This award is presented in recognition of the contributions made by an outstanding faculty member with a proven record of research excellence.

Prof Chigrinov gained his PhD in solid state physics (liquid crystals) from the Institute of Crystallography, USSR Academy of Sciences. He is an expert in displays and photonics and has pioneered liquid crystal photoaligning technology for liquid crystal display (LCD) technology. His co-authored paper "Surface-Induced Parallel Alignment of Liquid Crystals by Linearly Polymerized Photopolymers", which appeared in Japanese Journal of Applied Physics in 1992, is the journal's fourth most heavily cited article.

Photoaligning technology was announced by a major consumer electronics company as the technology on which the new generation of LCD televisions will be based.

Prof Hai Yang
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Prof Yang gained his Doctor of Engineering degree at Kyoto University and is a leading academic with top publications and citations within the transportation field.

He is internationally renowned for his innovative contributions to analysis, modeling and optimization of transportation systems and the economic analysis and modeling of urban taxi services. Other research interests include road pricing and traffic and transport dynamics.

Prof Yang was awarded a State Natural Science Award, Second Class by the central government’s State Council in 2011. He also recently became the Editor-in-Chief of Transportation Research Part B, a leading transportation journal.

Young Investigator Research Award

Prof Ke Yi
Computer Science and Engineering

This honor celebrates the achievements of a rising faculty member. The accolade was conferred on Prof Yi for his research on big data algorithms, in particular data sets that do not fit in a single computer's main memory. His work has seen him make theoretical and practical contributions to problems such as B-trees, hashing, R-trees and similarity searching. He has also studied algorithms in distributed systems such as MapReduce, Hadoop, and sensor networks, solving important problems that have attracted the attention of those in academia and industry.

Prof Yi received his PhD in Computer Science from Duke University, US. He is the Postgraduate Programs Coordinator and a member of the Theoretical Computer Science group and Database group at HKUST.

The Decision-Makers

The SENG Research Excellence Awards are determined by the Engineering Research Awards Selection Committee, comprising the head of each of the School of Engineering's six departments, chaired by HKUST Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies Prof Joseph H W Lee. Co-opted members include distinguished figures from the HKUST Institute for Advanced Study and Professors Emeriti.

Nominees are put forward by their peers in the School, which currently has around 160 faculty members across its departments. Criteria for the awards include research output, originality and innovativeness; impact of research output on society, industry and the relevant engineering discipline, research training provided to students and their leadership role in collaboration with national and international research partners.