Advances in chemistry championed at symposium

Mirror Fung

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Chemistry industrialists, academics, researchers and postgraduate students gathered together at the 18th Symposium on Chemistry Postgraduate Research in Hong Kong to reflect on advances in chemistry, exchange research ideas, foster collaboration and facilitate networking.

Hosted by the Department of Biology and Chemistry of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on 30 April, the symposium attracted more than 500 attendees, including Mr Achim Schkade, Acting Consul-General of Germany.

The keynote lecture, oral presentation session and poster presentation session were part of the programme for the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011), a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.

Under the unifying theme “Chemistry—our life, our future”, IYC 2011 offered a range of interactive, entertaining and educational activities for all ages. The Year of Chemistry is intended to reach across the globe, with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional, and national level.

At the opening ceremony, Professor Gregory Raupp, Vice-President (Research and Technology) and Dean of Graduate Studies at CityU, stressed the importance of chemistry.

“The scope of chemistry is large, from the origin of the universe to the chemical processes in the human body. Applications are everywhere: all the products we use, the buildings, the energy, are all chemistry,” he said.

He also emphasised the importance of collaboration. “This symposium is an opportunity for everyone to learn each other’s point of view. You can find a whole new way to look at a problem and a whole new way to solve the problem.”

In his address, Professor Lu Jian, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, CityU, said Hong Kong’s contribution to chemistry was recognised internationally. Many important scholars in Hong Kong were elected as academicians, highlighting our leading position in different research areas of chemistry in China, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and sustainable energy and products.

Professor István Horváth, Head of the Department of Biology and Chemistry, introduced the keynote speaker, Professor Helmut Schwarz, from the Department of Chemistry of Technical University Berlin. Professor Schwarz is also the President of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, one of the most prestigious foundations in Europe.

In his keynote lecture “Chemistry with Methane: Concepts Rather than Recipes”, Professor Schwarz addressed four seemingly simple transformations related to the chemistry of methane, from mechanistic and conceptual points of view. His vivid language captured the attention of the audience.

The symposium is a major annual event organised by six local universities in Hong Kong since 1994. This year, there were a total of six student oral presentations and 265 posters, of which one oral presentation and 38 posters were from CityU.

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