Broadening Research Frontiers at CityU

Theresa Fox

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In an effort to enhance CityU's research culture, the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the CityU Postgraduate Association jointly organized a symposium--Broadening Research Frontiers--on 29 March. Around 70 research degree students and staff attended the symposium, which consisted of two academic seminars and an open forum.  

Professor William Wang, Chair Professor of Language Engineering in the Department of Electronic Engineering and Chair Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, kicked off the seminars with a talk appropriately titled "The Joys of Research" Professor Wang's talk covered two themes: the unexpected paths that the search for knowledge can frequently lead to, occasionally resulting in major discoveries; and research within an interdisciplinary perspective, which can often result in important breakthroughs.

Next up was Dr Michael Yang , Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry. Dr Yang spoke on the theme "Genomics and Biochip Technology" He gave the audience an update on the Human Genome Project and explained how biochip technology offers one of the most powerful tools for acquiring, processing and interpreting vast amounts of genomic information.

Welcoming the audience to the Open Forum that followed the seminars, P rofessor P S Chung , Vice-President (Research) and Dean of SGS, said that cultivating a vigorous research culture is an on-going process and stressed the importance of students and staff working together. "I'm sure that those who have gone through this journey will agree with me that, apart from the hard work, it is a process that requires great enthusiasm, perseverance, persistence, curiosity, exploration, risk taking and will power," Professor Chung said. "But if you persist I am sure you will enjoy great satisfaction and abundant joy."

Professor Haydn Chen , Chair Professor and concurrent Head of the Department of Physics and Materials Science, spoke about "Learning, Research, Society and me" While preparing his talk, Professor Chen said, he had come up with an acronym to use as a model for research: ACCOUNTS. Application, Creativity, Contribution, Originality, Un-ambiguity, Novelty, Timeliness and Sustention should all be applied if postgraduate students are to contribute to the field in which they work and give something to society.

Aspiring to achieve academic excellence is also an important part of the research process, Professor Chen said. "We all have aspirations when we're younger; we need to pause and think and bring back those aspirations." And take chances, he emphasized. "Don't be restricted by boundaries, either physical or mental--exceed the boundaries, take risks!"

Following Professor Chen, two graduate students shared their experiences with the audience. First up was Ms Hung Pui Ki , a part-time MPhil student in the Department of Applied Social Studies. The key thing that motivates her in her studies, Ms Hung said, is whole person development. "My study is not just a means to get a job--rather it's a process of training that broadens my views, widens my horizons, enriches my knowledge, and develops my abilities to their full potential."

Ms Hung said research sharing and academic exchange between teachers and students were crucial to gaining important insights. "Both teachers and students provided me with different perspectives and ideological approaches in conducting my study." Critical comments from her supervisors and panel members also enabled her to make significant progress in her work by questioning her approach. "Increase your knowledge by interacting with others, including your fellow students and teaching staff," she advised.

For his part, Mr Yao Yuan , a full-time PhD student in the Department of Mathematics, said he before he joined CityU to research the mathematical foundation of learning, he studied engineering for six years. His reason for crossing disciplines, he said, was to work with the highest efficiency. Engineers and mathematicians have different outlooks but mathematics is the language that will broaden his research vision. "In most of my work, I feel like a translator, sailing between two languages," Mr Yao said. The beauty of mathematics, he believes, is that it achieves simplicity with precision. But whatever you are studying, he advised the audience, the goal itself is the meaning of academic excellence.
Summing up the forum, Professor W F Fong , Associate Dean of SGS, said postgraduate research students face a constant struggle between doing practical work and doing something meaningful, and the successful ones are usually those willing to take a risk. Talk to your colleagues and don't be afraid of criticism, he emphasized. And make sure the research problem is not beyond the reach of current technology or knowledge, "Then present a clear, unambiguous solution: that is academic excellence."

Posters exhibition

Research Frontiers at CityU, an exhibition of posters that was part of the event, was staged in Multi-purpose Room C from 28 March to 1 April. In the best poster awards, first prize went to Mr Kelvin Hou Chi Chuen (Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management); first runner-up was Ms Theresa Kwong Fuk Ning (Biology and Chemistry); and second runner-up was Ms Teresa T S Ng (Applied Social Studies).

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