At the age of 26 and six months before graduation as a PhD student in Physics, Ms Jiefei Chen has already received an offer from a Mainland university as an Associate Professor. She said humbly, "It's been my dream as a secondary school student to become a scientist. There had been challenges during the years, but I am very fortunate to have met my PhD supervisor at HKUST who inspired and encouraged me to pursue my dream in scientific research. A person who aspires to be a scientist needs to have the ability, passion and opportunity to do so. I am glad that I have such opportunities," said Chen who had just won the 2011 Young Scientists Awards of the Hong Kong Institution of Science.
Chen and three other PhD students from HKUST swept all the 2011 Young Scientists Awards under the three categories of Physical / Mathematical Science, Life Science and Engineering Science this year. To date, Chen had published eight papers. Her award-winning study was entitled "Manipulate Classical and Quantum Light with Cold Atoms". She and her research team had directly observed the optical precursor of a single photon and proved that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum, thus reaffirming Einstein's much-debated theory that nothing travels faster than light-in-vacuum.
Mr Alan Wong Siu-lun, a PhD graduate from the Division of Life Science, said, "Whereas Hong Kong offers a variety of career choices, those who choose to become scientists need to spend three or four years on average on a research project. Pursuing scientific research is not easy; determination and perseverance are most important." Alan had published six journal articles. The award-winning article titled Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of endophilin B1 is required for induced autophagy in models of Parkinson's disease, which aimed to find cures for Parkinson's disease, had been published on the prestigious journal Nature Cell Biology. Alan said, "Scientists don't just analyze phenomenon. We need to have the missions to improve human well-being."
The Hong Kong Institution of Science had received 65 nominations. Mr Wu Lin from the Division of Life Sciences and Mr Li Dong from the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering of HKUST were the two other winners.