Three CUHK distinguished scholars receive awards from the Croucher Foundation
Three top research academics from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s Faculty of Science were presented with prestigious awards by the Croucher Foundation. Professor Tan Yen Joe, Assistant Professor in the Earth System Science Programme, received the 2022 Croucher Tak Wah Mak Innovation Award, while Professor Yeung Ying-yeung, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Li Quan, Professor in the Department of Physics, were awarded 2022 and 2023 Croucher Senior Research Fellowships respectively.
Leveraging Axial Seamount’s geophysical dataset to study submarine volcanic eruptions and earthquakes
Professor Tan Yen Joe is a distinguished geophysicist whose research focuses on earthquakes and volcanoes. Most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the ocean, so monitoring submarine geologic events is extremely important for research. Axial Seamount, a submarine volcano in the North Pacific Ocean, has a simple structure and is frequently active. A cabled observatory was established in 2015 and has since recorded more than 100,000 earthquakes. The volcano has already erupted once and is expected to erupt again within the next few years. This September, Professor Tan completed a research cruise with researchers from three U.S. universities, deploying ocean-bottom seismometers and a hydrophone to collect real-time data.
With the support of the Croucher Foundation, Professor Tan will leverage this unique dataset to study volcano structure and the fundamental physics underlying earthquakes and volcanic activities. The research will help improve the ability to forecast eruptions, allowing for timely emergency responses.
Please click here for Professor Tan’s biography.
Developing organocatalysts to foster the synthesis and development of new medicines
Professor Yeung Ying-yeung is an expert in green chemistry and organic synthesis who is dedicated to the development of new organocatalysts. Compared with traditional heavy metal catalysts used in the synthesis of medicines, small molecule organocatalysts can promote reactions under metal-free and milder conditions, reducing the environmental impact. Professor Yeung has developed a number of new organocatalysts for metal-free reactions that can be applied to the synthesis of valuable drug intermediates to facilitate the synthesis and development of new medicines, as well as increasing the efficiency at which biodiesel is produced.
With the support of the Croucher Foundation, Professor Yeung plans to develop new catalytic protocols which are metal-free and efficient for a variety of applications, by linking chiral and achiral organocatalytic components through non-covalent interactions. They allow users to easily obtain various compounds for synthesis, like building blocks, that will be useful in the production of fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, dyes, pigments and functional materials. This research will not only contribute to the fundamental understanding of catalysis, but will also provide efficient access to many value-added compounds.
Please click here for Professor Yeung’s biography.
A novel diamond-based quantum sensing platform to enable bio-mechanical study of live cells and functional nanomaterials
Professor Li Quan is a material scientist working on multidisciplinary research on energy materials and devices, and nano-bio interfaces. Diamond-based quantum sensing offers high sensitivity, versatility and sensor stability. In the past decade, Professor Li has focused on diamond-based quantum sensing and developed unique quantum sensors and protocols with superior sensitivity to address intriguing problems in condensed matter physics, biomedicine and energy devices, mainly the challenge of interfacing quantum physics with practical material systems.
With the support of the Croucher Foundation, Professor Li will develop a novel platform to address the bottleneck problems in bio-mechanics study of life systems. It synchronises the atomic force microscopy (AFM) indentation and diamond-based quantum sensing to allow for precise monitoring of evolving systems, such as the deformation of live cells, and differentiate the stimuli-induced mechanical response of AFM indentation from the evolution of cells. The research will not only enable bio-mechanical study of live cells, but will also contribute to the development of functional nanomaterials, cancer therapeutics and tissue engineering.
Please click here for Professor Li’s biography.