Dean's Message
Fall 2013  No.24
Faculty Award-Winners Demonstrate Joys of Discovery
Three outstanding faculty members have had their achievements recognized through the School of Engineering Research Excellence Awards 2013. The annual honors highlight academics who are at different stages of their careers and their contributions to their respective fields. Criteria for the awards include originality of research output; impact on society and the field; research training provision for students; and leadership in national and international collaborative partnerships.
This year's Distinguished Research Excellence Award, the most prestigious accolade, was awarded to Prof Chung Yee Lee, Chair Professor of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management and Cheong Ying Chan Professor of Engineering. Prof Lee's accomplishments include the first global shop floor scheduling system for the semiconductor industry, business process management and cross-border research. "I'm delighted that I have been able to propel the field forward and add to efficiency and industry optimization," he said. "To do what you truly want to do and also to make a difference to society as a whole is both a privilege and a wonderful way to spend a career." 
Prof Lee has been ranked No. 6 worldwide in the h-index, which measures the productivity and impact of scholarly articles, and No. 9 for total publications, according to an International Journal of Production Economics article. The analysis looked at 20 core production and operations management journals over the past 50 years. 
Highly respected in his field, Prof Lee is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers in the US, and the founding and current Director of the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Institute at HKUST. In 2011, the "Transforming Hong Kong's Ocean Container Transport Logistics Network" project led by Prof Lee was one of just six proposals out of almost 90 to gain funding in the first round of the Research Grants Council's Theme-based Research Scheme. The project received HK$13.292 million.
Research Excellence Awards went to Prof Irene M C Lo, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Prof Dimitris Papadias, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. 
Prof Lo has spent more than two decades exploring solutions that can tackle different forms of soil and groundwater pollution. Her work has led to many articles in leading journals and several significant international honors, including the ASCE Samuel Arnold Greeley Award. Prof Lo has also made major contributions to soil and sediment decontamination and has been involved in the Kai Tak Development project, Denmark groundwater remediation and the Shenzhen River clean-up. "Being able to assist in large-scale environmental projects locally and internationally is challenging but also really exciting," she said. "I feel that helping to revitalize waterways and land is a very tangible way to improve people's lives."
Prof Papadias specializes in spatial and spatio-temporal databases. He has successfully applied spatial database techniques to other areas, in particular skyline computing. "The School has really supported my vision and encouraged me to go the extra step that enables you to make significant breakthroughs," Prof Papadias explained. "This keeps me energized to move ahead." Other areas of his research include indexing schemes, processing algorithms and spatio-temporal data warehouses. He has been widely cited and published, and his professional activities include being program chair of SIGMOD 2013, the world's leading conference on databases.
Dean of Engineering Prof Khaled Ben Letaief said that the awardees' achievements exemplify the School's drive and impact. "Our faculty members' research excellence is an invaluable asset to the engineering community and sharpens the competitive edge of our School," he noted.