CUHK Receives Two Ministry of Education Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards
Two scientific research projects led by researchers of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have received two Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) 2016 from the Ministry of Education (MoE), including 1 first-class award and 1 second-class award in natural sciences. The award presentation ceremony was held today (25 May) on CUHK campus. Mr. ZHAO Ling-Shan, Deputy Director of the Office for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Affairs, MoE; Mr. Zhang Zongming, Deputy Inspector of the Education, Science and Technology Department, Liaison Office of The Central People’s Government in the HKSAR; and Mr. LO Sai-hung, Brian, Deputy Secretary for Education, HKSAR Government, presented the prizes at the ceremony.
Here is a summary of CUHK award-winning projects this year:
First-class award in Natural Sciences
- Prof. WANG Jianfang, Professor of the Department of Physics and Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Science — Colloidal plasmonic nanocrystals: synthesis, properties and applications
When the size of gold is reduced down to nanoscale, gold nanocrystals can generate localized surface plasmon resonance and focus light into a spatial volume of a few nanometers in size, overcoming the diffusion limit of light. The unique optical properties of gold nanocrystals enable a variety of promising technological applications, such as miniaturized photonic circuits, diverse spectroscopies for materials characterization and detection, photocatalysis and solar energy harvesting. Prof. Wang Jianfang has collaborated with research groups from Peking University and Beijing Computational Science Research Center to achieve precise control of the size and shape of gold nanocrystals at the nanometer resolution and therefore to vary the plasmonic properties and behaviors according to different needs. They have gained thorough understanding of the plasmonic properties of gold nanocrystals and their interactions with various nanoscale optical species. At the same time, the research team has pushed plasmonic gold nanocrystals forward into many practical applications, including time-temperature indicators for perishable products and medicine, hydrogen sensing, optical switching, solar energy harvesting and utilization, and so on.
Second-class award in Natural Sciences
- Prof. LAM Hon-ming, Professor of the School of Life Sciences and Deputy Director of State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology; and Prof. SUN Sai-ming Samuel, Director of the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology — Identification of functional genes for crop improvement
Led by Prof. Lam Hon-ming, in collaboration with Shenzhen-BGI and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the research team pledged to identify important functional genes in relation to the major agronomic traits from elite germplasms of staple crops, and to study their underlying molecular mechanisms as the scientific basis for crop improvement. The research focused on the soybean genome sequencing and the study of stress-tolerance related genes; the regulation mechanisms of a plant’s unconventional G-protein in disease resistance and stress tolerance; and the identification of key regulators of the nitrogen source-sink relationship in seed. The identified target genes play important roles in stress tolerance, disease resistance and nutrient distribution. This genomic study brought forth a profound impact on soybean research worldwide and led to new insights through the extensive genetic polymorphism analysis and comparison on cultivated and wild soybeans. The groundbreaking results were published in Nature Genetics as a cover story in 2010. Apart from academic publications, the team has also obtained several Hong Kong, mainland China and US patents for their innovative findings.
About Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards
The Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) is set up by the MoE to recognize outstanding research projects at all tertiary institutions in mainland China. Since 2009, Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions have been included in the scheme. The award is presented to individuals or units who have made remarkable contributions in the areas of scientific discovery, technological innovation, science and technology advancement and implementation of patented technologies. The Natural Sciences Award honours researchers who have made discoveries in natural science and applied science, or given explanations to natural phenomena and characteristics; the Technology Advancement Award honours research achievements in applied technologies of natural science.