Acclaim for budding scientist

Shirley Lam

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A PhD student in the Department of Biology and Chemistry has won the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Europe (SETAC) Young Scientist Award for the best oral presentation at the SETAC Europe 12th Annual Meeting in May.

Ms Tang Yat-man, Janet, emerged as the best among 260 young scientists at the meeting in Vienna, Austria. She won with her paper, "Histo-cytopathological study of fish gill upon chronic exposure to harmful algal bloom (HAB)", which was produced with her doctorate degree supervisor, Dr Doris Au, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry.

SETAC is an international organization that provides an exchange vehicle for scientists worldwide. Participants in the Young Scientist Awards are judged by the originality of their approach, quality of work, quality of presentation, self-reliance and independence.

"The award not only proves that the standard of our postgraduate students has reached the international standard, but that they also perform brilliantly," said Dr Au.

Ms Tang said she was overjoyed at receiving the award, "It is very encouraging and is an incentive for me to pursue scientific research and studies in the future."

Ms Tang's doctorate degree project focuses on the chronic exposure to toxic algal toxin of fish gills and livers. It is widely known that exposure to high algal bloom concentrations lead to poor fish health and mortality, but it is not clear whether similar pathological symptoms will develop when fish are exposed to a chronic, low concentration of toxic red tides.

Dr Au and Ms Tang aim to study fish gill and liver pathology upon chronic exposure to low levels of toxic algae. "We want to find out the threshold level at which fish health will be affected, and what kind of toxin the harmful algae bloom produce and how they kill the fish," said Ms Tang.

"The results of this study will establish the methodologies and provide data needed to assess the ecological risk and impact on marine fish culture associated with chronic exposure to low levels of toxic algae, which would be extremely useful for red tide and fisheries management," said Dr Au. "That's why we are cooperating with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which hopes this will contribute to fisheries management in Hong Kong."



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