RGC Public Lectures - Human evolution-language and agriculture

Three leading scholars have been invited to deliver public lectures organized by the Research Grants Council. Details of the lectures are as follows:

Topic Speaker Time
A Journey into Language: Evolution, Cognition, and Neuroscience Professor William Shiyuan Wang
(Chair Professor of Language and Cognitive Sciences of Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Dr. Manson Cheuk-Man Fong
(Research Assistant Professor of Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Revolutionising Mode of Food Production and Consumption to Combat Climate Change Professor Amos Pui Kuen Tai
(Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Programme of The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Venue: Lecture Hall, 1/F, Hong Kong Science Museum (Location Map)
Language: Cantonese
Admission is free and on a first-come, first-served basis.
Interested parties can also watch the live broadcast of the lectures through the Hong Kong Science Museum website (https://hk.science.museum/en_US/web/scm/event/sl/rgcpls.html) for free.

First Session

Topic: A Journey into Language: Evolution, Cognition, and Neuroscience
Speaker: Professor William Shiyuan Wang, Dr. Manson Cheuk-Man Fong
Date/Time: 12 November 2022 (Saturday) 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Brief introduction:

Humans are one of the numerous species on earth but the few that have adapted and thrived in every part of the world. A reason for this is due to the invention of language. In this talk, Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University will introduce the evolutionary history of human beings that has made language possible, the cognitive and neural bases of language, the brain changes in normal and pathological ageing, and how they impact human language functions. Some research projects of the Department on brain age estimation, language comprehension, foreign language learning, etc. will also be discussed.

About the Speaker:

Prof. William Wang got his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1960, and he founded the Journal of Chinese Linguistics in 1973. He is best known for his theory of lexical diffusion and the pioneering experimental works in Chinese linguistics. After serving as Professor of Linguistics at the University of California Berkeley for nearly three decades (1966-1995), he moved to Hong Kong. He has since taught at the City University of Hong Kong (1995-2004), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2004-2015), and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2015-present). His many accolades included Academician of Academia Sinica, Taiwan (1992), Professor Emeritus of University of California Berkeley (1995-Present), Honorary Professor of Peking University (2011), Lifetime Achievement Award in Anthropology, Shanghai Society of Anthropology (2017), and Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from University of Chicago (2018). He has supervised over 40 PhD students and published over 200 journal articles.

Dr. Manson Fong got his PhD in Electronic Engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2015. He did his postdoctoral work at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2016-2021), where his research focused on the cognitive neuroscience of ageing and language, using neurophysiological and neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He has recently been promoted to Research Assistant Professor (2022-Present). He has published 10 peer-reviewed articles in various journals, including Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Brain and Language, and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Both Prof. Wang and Dr. Fong are members of the Research Centre for Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience (RCLCN) and of Research Institute for Smart Ageing (RISA) at HK PolyU.


Second Session

Topic: Revolutionising Mode of Food Production and Consumption to Combat Climate Change
Speaker: Professor Amos Pui Kuen Tai
Date/Time: 12 November 2022 (Saturday) 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Brief introduction:

Modernised agriculture is a major contributor to both climate change and environmental pollution. Substantial quantities of greenhouse gases are released at various stages of food production; nitrogenous compounds released from fertiliser and animal waste also pollute air and water. In this talk, the speaker of The Chinese University of Hong Kong will examine how these issues can be addressed by integrating sustainable farming practices borrowed from ancient wisdom with the enhancement by current technology, as well as by adjusting human diet, reducing meat consumption, etc. so that food security, human and environmental health can be ensured.

About the Speaker:

Prof. Amos P. K. Tai is an Associate Professor in the Earth System Science Programme of the Faculty of Science, as well as the Associate Director of the Office of University General Education, at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Amos obtained his B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Harvard University, and was a Croucher Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT before he joined CUHK in 2013. Amos specializes in atmospheric chemistry and physics, agricultural and forest meteorology, and biosphere-atmosphere interactions. His research combines high-performance Earth system modeling and multivariate statistical analysis of observations to examine the complex interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere, addressing pressing issues such as the impacts of air pollution and climate change on ecosystems and food security, and how agriculture and forests can be better managed to mitigate environmental impacts. His work has been published in top-ranking journals in the atmospheric and environmental sciences including Nature Climate Change, Nature Food, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, and Environmental Research Letters, and earned him the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Research Award for Young Scientists in 2015, Early Career Award from the Research Grants Council (Hong Kong) in 2014, and founding membership of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences in 2018. Amos is also a passionate educator, having received the prestigious CUHK Vice-Chancellor Exemplary Teaching Award and Faculty of Science Exemplary Teaching Award. Amos delights in promoting popular science knowledge to the public, especially on topics such as climate change, environmental sustainability, and faith and science. He regularly gives talks in schools and public avenues, and has participated in and hosted TV and radio programs many times to promote science and environmental education.