Faculty Development Scheme (FDS) - Project Abstract

Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E10/19
Project Title: Development of an energy efficient-rapid microalgae cells harvesting and disruption method to facilitate the downstream processing of biofuel production by using a novel synthesized cationic polymer coated magnetic nanocomposites
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Cho-yin (THEi)

Increasing energy consumption due to rapid development has generated huge amount of carbon dioxide emission over the decades, resulting in an alarm level of global carbon dioxide concentration (>400ppm) that has been recorded and shown with significant correlation to some unusual climate changes. This challenging environmental problem urgently needs scientists and engineers to pay attention to reduce fossil fuels combustion. According to the Paris Agreement since 2016, some suggestions have been implemented for examples by reducing energy uses and increasing energy efficiency of manufactory processes as well as seeking for a more clean and renewable energy to achieve sustainable human growth and development. Among different potential sources of renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy and biofuel have been developed for real applications. However, some drawbacks have been found such as intermittent availability of solar light and wind as well as their high installation and maintenance costs, besides, the issue of crop-based biofuel competition to food supply that hinders their large scale development. Recently, microalgae-based biofuel has been proposed as a promising option for generating the clean energy. The advantages of microalgae such as they are widespread, abundant, fast growing and easily to be cultivated. By comparing to other crop species, a higher CO2 capturing ability of microalgae can mitigate more CO2 and the lipids production yield from microalgae is the highest and also possess similar properties to conventional fuel that it can be easily adopted by existing combustion engines. In addition, microalgae can be applied for wastewater treatment to remove nutrients and production of high value food supplement. However, due to the diluted cell density and small cell size of microalgae resulting in a low efficiency of their biomass separation. In general 20-30% of overall energy consumption accounts for microalgae cells harvesting and downstream processes by using centrifugation, membrane filtration or air flotation. In order to increase the potential usage of microalgae for large scale biofuel production, the energy consumption for their biomass harvesting and lipids extraction should be significantly reduced. In fact, microalgae cell surfaces are negatively charged due to the presence of carboxyl and hydroxyl groups that an alternative approach can be proposed for their biomass collection, i.e. chemical flocculation by electrostatic interaction followed by sedimentation. Past studies indicated that some inexpensive and common flocculants like cationic polymers can be used to achieve high separation efficiency for microalgae cells. However, high residual content of flocculants presented in spent culture medium required proper treatment before discharge or possible water reuse. Moreover, microalgae biomass aggregated with flocculants would greatly affect the lipids extraction efficiency. Therefore, an effective microalgae biomass collection and flocculants removal method should be critically developed. In this study, a novel magnetic nanoparticle (MNP), i.e. magnetite (Fe3O4) will be firstly synthesized and a silica layer will be subsequently coated on MNP to increase the chemical stability of magnetic core during the later cells disruption and desorption processes conducted by strong acid/solvent. Cationic polymers i.e. polyethylenimine (PEI) or surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) will be further coated on the silica-MNP used for flocculating cells by electrostatic interaction. The optimal cells flocculation and desorption conditions will be evaluated towards both freshwater microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) and marine microalgae (Nannochloropsis sp.) respectively. By applying with external magnetic field, a rapid collection of microalgae cells together with significant enhancement of lipids extraction can be achieved by using the synthesized cationic surfactant CTAB coated magnetic nanocomposites. After simple desorption, both types of magnetic nanocomposites maintained with high magnetic property and flocculating capabilities can be further reused. As a result, this proposed method can significantly improve both the energy efficiency in biomass harvesting and lipids extraction. Besides, the water reusability in large scale microalgae biomass production can be enhanced.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B08/19
Project Title: Chinese brand name processing: The role of visual-spatial properties in brand memory and perceptions
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Fong-yee (HSUHK)

A well-crafted brand name facilitates recall and may have a significant impact on brand evaluations, which is especially valuable to new brands. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, this project will explore the extent to which Chinese brand names’ visual-spatial aesthetics influence consumer perceptions and recall. A multimethodological approach will be adopted to address the research questions and test the hypotheses. The goal will be to disentangle the underlying psychological mechanisms involved in processing and recognizing Chinese brand names. The empirical results will make significant theoretical contributions to the branding literature and will have practical implications for brand strategists working to create recognizable and favorable brand names.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS23/H03/19
Project Title: Extending the dual-route account for visual perception and localization
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Ka-ho (HKBU SCE)

In our everyday lives, we often need to find objects in a cluttered scene. To perform this visual search task we need to face two main challenges: first, to locate the object by glancing around the environment; second, to identify whether the located object is exactly what we want. The nature of these two processes matches the “where” and “what” distinction of the brain architecture. However, most previous studies on visual search focused on how the search target is located, and relatively little emphasis are placed on the post-selective identification process.

More recent research shows that the time needed to match an object with a target memory representation varies according to their categorical relationship (e.g., Drew & Wolfe, 2014). Findings of this kind leads us to question whether some behavioral characteristics in visual search that were previously attributed to localization processes may in fact be due to post-selective factors. For example, it is known that search is faster when the target feature repeats over trials – although previous research explains this pattern in terms of more effective guidance for localization following feature repetition, it could also be due to a quicker feature identification process when the target feature is pre-activated.

In this project, we propose to reexamine previous visual search results in terms of the relative contributions of search guidance and post-selective identification processes. It will be done with an emphasis on further investigating the dual-route account of visual search that we proposed earlier (Chan & Hayward, 2009, 2014). According to this account, visual search performance is driven by a spatial and a non-spatial processing route. This account has the advantage to explain several discrepancies between dimension-specific effects resulting from various search tasks over the standard one-route guided search framework. However, this dual-route account faces challenges from a few reports of apparently incompatible results (e.g., Zehetleitner et al., 2009, 2010, 2011). We reason that these results are ambiguous in terms of how should them be attributed to search guidance or post-selective processes. By clarifying this ambiguity, in this proposed research, we seek to evaluate and compare the one-route and dual-route frameworks more directly and systematically.

In this proposal, we explain six series of novel experiments that could help clarify the origins of a variety of visual search effects. The results generated will provide evidence for testing the dual-route account against its counterparts, further our understanding on the relationship between each visual processing stage, and give us a more complete picture on the underlying mechanisms involved in visual search under different task requirements.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/B02/19
Project Title: Revisiting the DeAngelo (1981) Theory on Auditor Size and Audit Quality at the Audit Firm, Audit Office and Engagement Partner Levels
Principal Investigator: Prof CHAN Koon-hung (Caritas)

Since the theoretical work of DeAngelo (1981), audit firm size has been widely used as a surrogate for audit quality in accounting and auditing literature as large audit firms with a greater number of clients have more to lose in case of audit failure. Other reasons including better training programs and ability to recruit better quality graduates by large audit firms to support the use of audit firm size as a fundamental proxy of audit quality. Nevertheless, we observe that large audit firms had not taken good care of many of their clients, resulting in numerous audit failures and legal actions over the years. In contrast, many small and medium audit firms are headed by prominent partners and have worked hard to provide the best service they can, especially for their important clients. This study investigates whether smaller audit firms provide better quality audits for their listed clients compared with Big 4 firms or Top 10 large firms for audit of clients of similar size and characteristics in China. We note that clients of similar size should normally be more important for a smaller audit firm than a large audit firm. We test whether the effect of audit firm size may be offset by the effect of client importance.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B15/19
Project Title: The Motives of Intergenerational Transfers in China
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Kwok-ho (OUHK)

Intergenerational transfers from adult children to their parents are thought to contribute a significant portion of old-age support in China. With a fast growing elder population and an increasing old-age dependency ratio, it is important to understand these transfers. This study investigates the motives of intergenerational transfers in China. Using pilot data from China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), preliminary results of 1200 households showed that around half of them received transfers from adult children and the amount of transfer is at most two-thirds of household income per capita. Data also showed that poorer households are more likely to receive transfers. Considering the large portion of old-age income coming from children’s transfers and the widespread of these transfers, better understanding about these transfers is needed. Appropriate public old-age policy would provide sustainable old-age support for the elderly and lessen the burden of younger generation on supporting their parents.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M03/19
Project Title: Microbiological and Metagenomic Analysis of the Microbiome and Antibiotics Resistance Genes in Manure from Organic Farms (Phase 1)
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Ping-lung (OUHK)

Organic vegetables are considered by the general public as healthier and more natural. Thus there is an increasing demand for organic vegetables. However, these organic vegetables may be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria as the production of organic vegetables involves the uses of organic manures originated from animal faeces or kitchen wastes. These materials harbour antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the uses of antibiotics in the farming of livestock. The use of these manures thus may pose a threat to public health as many of these organic vegetables are categorised as ready-to-eat food and are used in salads or other food with minimal washing and cooking. Consumption of these vegetables may thus result in the infection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Measures are thus needed to reduce the risk.

One of the measures is to alter the microbial community structure (microbiome), reducing the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs/resistome) in manures by altering the physicochemical properties of the manure composting process and in farm soils. It has been demonstrated that an array of physicochemical factors such as temperature, oxygen availability, total available nitrogen, and metal ions concentration influence the microbiome and resistome in manures and farm soils. However, the result from existing studies showed a varied or even contradictory effect of this strategy. It highlights that our current understanding in the effect and working mechanism of different physicochemical factors on microbiome and resistance genes is still very limited and there is a need to further explore and delineate the effect and the working mechanism of different physicochemical factors.

Currently, there are only a handful of studies in Hong Kong characterising and investigating the effect of different physicochemical factors on the microbiome and resistome in manures and farm soils used to cultivate the organic vegetables supplied to Hong Kong. Thus, this is the aim of this study to fill this gap. This proposal presents the phase 1, which focus on the manures only, of our larger intended study. In the current proposal, we hypothesise (i) the microbiome and ARGs in composting manures will evolve during the composting; and (ii) the physicochemical factors in composting manures are correlated with the evolution of the microbiome and ARGs of the composting manures.

There are three parts of the current study. Part I will first characterise the microbiome and the ARGs in two types of manure commonly used in Hong Kong using microbiological and metagenomic methods. Part II will characterise the physicochemical properties of composting manures and correlate these properties with the change in the microbiome and ARGs as defined in Part I. Part III will examine the effect of correlating physicochemical properties identified in Part II on the microbiome and ARGs in manures.

The result of this study will first inform the general public in the food safety risk of consumption of ready-to-eat vegetables cultivated by different methods and the governments in the Greater Bay Area region on the formulation of regulatory policy concerning food safety requirements of ready-to-eat organic vegetables. Secondly, in the aspect of agricultural technology development, the identification of physicochemical factors influencing the evolution of microbiome and ARGs in manures will facilitate the improvement of current manure composting techniques and other industrial applications involving fermentation processes such as food and pharmaceutical industry. Finally, this project will fill the gap in our current understanding of the evolution process of the microbiome and ARGs (or resistome) in manures and how different physicochemical factors influence this evolution process. Identification of these factors will lead to new hypotheses of the precise molecular mechanism of how these factors influence the evolution process and gene regulations.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/M07/19
Project Title: Anti-emetic potential of cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) system in Suncus murinus
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Sze-wa (Caritas)

Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptides are important modulators that act in the brain and contribute to a range of physiological and behavioural processes including feeding, stress, energy expenditure and body weight control. In rodents, CART peptides and their mRNAs are found in many brain regions and in peripheral tissues that are involved in reward/ enforcement, feeding and emesis, and there is strong anatomical association between CART and various orexigenic and anorexigenic neuropeptides. Acute administration of d-amphetamine, which upregulates CART mRNA in rat striatum, is anti-emetic against apomorphine-induced emesis and motion sickness. Central administration of CART peptides in rodents inhibits food intake and induces c-Fos expression in the hypothalamic neuroendocrine neurons, nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) and area postrema (AP). Recent evidence indicates that alternations in CART have been associated with reduced metabolic rate, obesity and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, making it a potential target for anti-obesity drug development. Nevertheless, the potential involvement of CART system in emesis control is poorly understood because common laboratory animals (e.g. rat and mouse) are incapable of emesis. In this proposal, we will use Suncus murinus, a species with proven translational value in anti-emetic research in our studies. Our recent data identified that the CART protein in S. murinus exists in the short form of 117 amino acids. In the C-terminal region of the protein, the region that shows physiological activity, there are only two amino acids difference between human, rat, mouse and S. murinus forms. In conscious animals, central administration of CART (55-102) produced a complete block of cisplatin-induced emesis in 83% and 67% animals in the first 60 and 90 min, resulting in an overall reduction in vomits by 89% and 79%, respectively, compared to the saline-treated group. CART (55-102) also produced a complete inhibition of cyclophosphamide-induced emesis in 5 out of 6 animals tested over a 4-h observation period, without an effect on food intake. In the current proposal, therefore, we will identify the anatomical distribution of CART peptide and CART mRNA in S. murinus using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, respectively. We will elucidate the mechanism of action of the CART system in emesis control. Experiments will be performed using standard behavioural testing and established surgical and radiotelemetric techniques to track a cluster of physiological changes indicative of nausea (PCIN). c-Fos immunohistochemistry will be performed to gain more insight into the neuro-anatomical signaling following various nauseagenic treatments. Changes in brain neurotransmitters will be determined using LC-MS analysis. Our findings will unlock the role of CART peptides in the mechanism of emesis and also provide insight on whether targeting CART system could be a potential therapeutic strategy for anti-emetic development.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS13/H03/19 (Withdrawn)
Project Title: The social conditions of a post-media capital: The case of Hong Kong film industry
Principal Investigator: Dr CHANG Shih-chien (Chu Hai)

“Media capital”, an idea proposed by the media scholar Michael Curtin who takes Hong Kong film industry as the case to describe a city where talents and money cluster for the regional vigorous performance. However, Curtin doubts that Hong Kong can maintain the privilege after its film industry has deeply integrated with mainland China as many senior filmmakers have moved northward for more joint-production projects and enjoyed popularity with greater box- office performance. However, since 2003, the year when the bilateral trade agreement CEPA that officially facilitates coproduction between mainland China and Hong Kong was signed, some talents have stayed in Hong Kong and struggled still for local cinema with limited budget and returns.

Obviously, the coproduction arrangement endorsed by government results in uneven and asymmetrical development of both sides. Ten more years passed and Hong Kong movie is alive, though in a different way and of another scale. Therefore, it is an interesting case for cultural industry study that how profit-driven motivation could not dominate cultural activities solely while something else backing current Hong Kong cinema needs to be explored. As the transforming genre of Hong Kong cinema has been illustrated, this research focuses on the sociality of transformation. To understand the localization patterns of industrialized cultural activity, this research is going to investigate the local cluster of Hong Kong film workers with social network analysis and in-depth interview. Under the theoretical framework of capital conversion, which was proposed by Pierre Bourdieu and used for cultural activity studies, it is hypothesized that local film workers would have more solid social and cultural capital when they cannot secure economic capital today. Besides, there should be some conversion strategies to realize their cultural/social capital, which will be explored in this project.

Based on Bourdieu’s three types of capital, the members of local community shall be ranked according to their social capital, which means the person who has more significant connections in community is more influential than the others. After that, it is possible to tell the community’s structure in which each member has core or peripheral position relatively. And the cultural capital recognized by members shall be told by themselves to justify their current positions and career path, whereas the economic capital they have will be investigated as well. The critical concern of the former subject is how professional a member is while the latter is the material base of his/her activities. The hypothesis here is that the economic base cannot support local community sufficiently that the criteria of profession and reputation shift from commercial success to others. In other words, Bourdieu’s scheme of capital conversion is employed to characterize modern Hong Kong film industry in this research.

The data source of local film workers’ community is the cast & crew list of each Hong Kong movie, which has been distinguished by Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA) from coproduction films since 2009. With network analysis, the community member’s social capital is quantified for ranking. Based on the ranked list the film workers shall be sampled at even intervals. After that, the in-depth interview focuses on the film worker’s background, income level and sources, connections in and out of community, career path, and the understandings of his/her current status and others’ in the social capital ladder.

The desirable outcomes include two aspects: one is to illustrate the transforming organization structure for current Hong Kong film production and the other is to understand the changing capital conversion strategies of modern film workers. The findings could be helpful both for theoretical concern of cultural industry development and policy making for Hong Kong film industry.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H09/19
Project Title: Escaping Prestige: The Transmedia Aesthetics of Gao Xingjian's Post-Nobel Works
Principal Investigator: Mr CHEUK Michael Ka-chi (OUHK)

The Nobel Prize in Literature is regularly referred to as a blessing and a curse to its laureates. This proposed project will study the censoring impact of the Nobel Prize in Literature on Gao Xingjian’s creative works, providing an examination of how economic capital (money), symbolic capital (recognition), and celebrity capital (media exposure), as generated by the Nobel Prize, have shaped the transmedial nature of Gao’s post-Nobel artistic career.

The Nobel Prize has never been systematically studied within the framework of censorship. The Nobel Prize, however, has garnered the reputation as being a “kiss of death” to a literary writer, and it has even prompted Gao to embark on a “second escape.” Building on the PI’s previous research on Gao’s pre-Nobel plays and censorship, this study will explore both the social and cultural significance of Gao’s works in the context of the Nobel Prize as a form of censorship, and more broadly, as a form of global influence. It will also investigate how Gao’s post-Nobel creative works cross the boundaries of film, poetry, painting, dance, and theatre, thereby cultivating a brand of transmedia aesthetics which is unique to Gao.

This project not only breaks grounds in examining how a non-Western writer negotiates with the productive and restrictive forces of international literary prizes, but also paves way for research on Gao’s later works against the backdrop of the Nobel Prize.

Since the study will investigate four main fields – the Nobel Prize, Gao’s post-Nobel creative works, transmediality, and censorship, it requires critical reflection on a series of interdependent cultural, aesthetic, and theoretical issues in the context of the global influence of the Nobel Prize. The intricate questions to be addressed include: How does the Nobel Prize poise as censorship for non-Western laureates like Gao? In what ways are Gao’s transmedial experimentations influenced by the censorship of the Nobel Prize? How do Gao’s post-Nobel creative works serve as an “escape” from the censorship of the Nobel Prize? What new insights about the cultural politics of recognition, such as China’s eagerness to strengthen its soft power through international awards, can be obtained through an account of Gao’s post-Nobel artistic career? How does a study of Gao’s post-Nobel creative works inspire sophisticated insights about cultural censorship with respect to Hong Kong?

The project consists of four tasks: (1) Examine the Nobel Prize in Literature as a form of censorship that is structural, omnipresent, and paradoxically produces as well as restricts expression; (2) Study the interaction between transmediality and structural censorship in Gao Xingjian’s post-Nobel works, namely the Taiwanese stage production of Snow in August (2002), the plays The Man Who Questions Death (2004) and Ballade Nocturne (2010), the films Silhouette/Shadow (2007), After the Flood (2008), Requiem for Beauty (2013), and the poetry collection Wandering Mind and Metaphysical Thoughts (2018); (3) Re-evaluate the global politics of cultural recognition and China’s Nobel complex; and (4) Contribute more sophisticated insights about cultural censorship with respect to Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/P03/19
Project Title: Optimization of antioxidant activities of polysaccharides or polysaccharide-protein complexes from medicinal mushrooms by modulation of ultrasound-assisted extraction effect on the molecular structures and physicochemical properties
Principal Investigator: Dr CHEUNG Yi-ching (THEi)

The research and commercial interest on polysaccharides (PS) and polysaccharide-protein complexes (PSPs) from edible/medicinal fungi or mushrooms for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical uses are increasing. The aim of this research project is focusing on the application of high-power ultrasound (US) for the processing and modification of bioactive polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes from several important medicinal fungi, which attains the optimized bioactivity effect.

Ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) has been widely evaluated as a more favourable and efficient process than the traditional hot water extraction (HWE) for isolation and recovery of food and medicinal products. However, US has not been widely applied to the extraction of high MW PS from edible and medicinal fungi for controlling the relative bioactivities. The effect of the bioactivities of PS and PSPs by US extraction conditions is still under investigation. On the other hand, high power ultrasound (US) is an interesting mechanical means for partial and controlled degradation of high molecular weight (MW) polysaccharides to improve the solution properties for desirable clinical applications. We believe that during the UAE process, molecular composition and physiochemical properties of the extracted PS and PSPs should be different from that extracted from traditional HWE, which results in a different trend of bioactivities as per previous research studies. Therefore, there is a room to state the relationship between the UAE conditions and the bioactivities of the extracted PS and PSPs.

In this study, the US effect on the chemical composition, molecular properties and antioxidant activities of PS (and PSPs) isolated from selected edible/medicinal mushroom fruit bodies of UAE is evaluated by various conditions. Modulation of the relative US effect on the molecular structures and physicochemical properties with US powers and various extraction conditions is then established out for the optimization of antioxidant activities of the PS (and PSPs). This research project provides new and interesting results on the UAE processes and the relationships between the efficiency, product quality and the process conditions for bioactivities of medicinal products. The results from this project are most useful for further development, improvement and application of the ultrasonic processes on traditional Chinese medicine. In particular, the process modulation on antioxidant activities and relationships with the processing factors to be established will be useful for optimal design and efficient operation of the process.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M06/19
Project Title: Study of potential synergistic effect of probiotic formulas in reducing acrylamide and ethyl carbamate in selected foods
Principal Investigator: Dr CHOI Siu-mei (THEi)

Frying and baking are common food processing methods in our daily life. Food is the major route of human exposure to various contaminants or toxins formed during processing. Increasing public concerns about the dietary exposure of contaminants and their effects on human health are observed due to numerous studies which showed their occurrence and adverse effects on humans. Process-induced contaminants have been identified as one of the common potential health concerns as they are widely distributed in processed food products. They are formed during food manufacturing procedures in the food industry or during common cooking treatments at restaurants or in households. Acrylamide and ethyl carbamate are good examples of process-induced contaminants which raising the public health concerns nowadays as both are classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).

Hence, different strategies have been developed to reduce or minimize their content in foods. Most of the strategies focus on the physical and chemical treatments during the food processing procedures. Apart from these, an alternative approach to using biological agents such as adding of probiotics also shows the positive impact on reducing the potential toxins. The formation of undesirable compounds such as process-induced toxicants is unavoidable. Different technological solutions or different approaches could be applied before or after the formation of toxicants in order to reduce the toxicant levels when consuming the contaminated food products.

The major objective of this study is to enhance the investigation of the probiotic approach to reducing two important food process-induced toxicants: ethyl carbamate and acrylamide in selected food matrices. The study also examines the probiotic effects on the fractions of acrylamide and ethyl carbamate released from the specific food matrices in the gastrointestinal tract and they become available for intestinal absorption via an in vitro digestion model. In this study, the efficacy of different probiotic strains (i.e. Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus) in reducing ethyl carbamate or acrylamide content will be evaluated. The potential synergistic effects of various probiotic formulas in reducing toxicants will also be investigated. The content of acrylamide or ethyl carbamate in foods with or without probiotic formulas after simulated digestion will be analyzed using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The potential application of probiotic formulas to reduce the health risk from ingestion of acrylamide or ethyl carbamate-contaminated foods will be evaluated using an in vitro gastrointestinal digestion model.

The findings will contribute to further development of strategies to detoxify toxic substances in foods by using specific probiotic formulas. Reducing the amount of these toxic chemicals available for intestinal absorption may demonstrate the potential protective effect of probiotics against these potential carcinogens or mutagens commonly found in diet. Hence, the specific dietary strategies for ingestion of toxicants-contaminated food products in the presence of probiotic formulas may provide potential protective effect and reduce the relative risk of exposure.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/P02/19
Project Title: Unsupervised Fuzzy Superpixel-based Image Segmentation
Principal Investigator: Dr CHOY Siu-kai (HSUHK)

Image segmentation is a challenging problem in computer vision and has a wide variety of applications in various fields such as pattern recognition and medical imaging. One of the main approaches to this problem is to perform superpixel segmentation followed by a graph-based methodology to achieve image segmentation. Crucial to the successful image segmentation using this method is the superpixel generation algorithm and superpixel partitioning algorithm. Existing superpixel generation algorithms have various priorities and place emphasis on boundary adherence, superpixel regularity, computational complexity, etc, but normally do not perform well in all of the above simultaneously. Superpixel partitioning algorithms are typically based on graph-based approaches and could have high computational costs, which makes them inefficient in practical contexts. In the proposed project, we will investigate a fast and effective unsupervised fuzzy superpixel-based image segmentation algorithm to remedy the aforementioned difficulties for a wide range of applications. In particular, we will study the combined use of a novel fuzzy clustering-based superpixel generation technique and fuzzy graph-theoretic superpixel partitioning approach for image segmentation applications. The proposed segmentation method will be assessed by extensive comparative experiments using complex natural and textural images.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B07/19
Project Title: On encouraging green living – When does a positive role model backfire
Principal Investigator: Dr CHU Maggie Ying-ying (OUHK)

In October 2018, the United Nations issued a special report on climate change warning that without the introduction of more radical policies to limit global warming to 1.5°C, catastrophic consequences of climate change would ensue. Human activities are known to be the major reason for the increase in global temperature. From driving and eating to air-conditioning, all sorts of human activities involve the emission of greenhouse gases. Changing to a low-carbon or “greener” lifestyle is highly necessary. A common tactic used to change people’s behavior is showing them a good role model, such as someone who makes conscious attempts to reduce waste and save precious resources. This strategy is often implemented in public policy campaigns. To enhance the attainability of advocated behaviors, role models who share similar characteristics (e.g., socio-economic status) with the given audience are often used. We, however, speculate that such a strategy may backfire, as it not only fails to elicit the desired behavior but actually makes people even less likely to adopt it. The aim of the proposed research is to investigate when this effect occurs, how it occurs and under what conditions it becomes more pronounced.

By drawing on social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954), we posit that in situations where new evidence casts doubt on people’s environmental friendliness (e.g., receiving unfavorable feedback from an environmental friendliness assessment), they may refer to others as the standard of comparison. Others who are similar to oneself are often good references that enable one to make the most accurate judgments about one’s attributes and abilities. A potential comparison outcome is particularly worth noting. When people are in front of a similar other who is superior to themselves (akin to a good role model), such as seeing a neighbor making every effort to save resources and minimize waste, they are more likely to evaluate themselves unfavorably on the attribute concerned and to perceive themselves as not being the same kind of person as that social other (“I’m not those who are environmentally friendly”). Once self-views are established, people have a tendency to preserve them by thinking and behaving in ways that are consistent with their conceptions of self (Lecky, 1945). Thus, after observing a self-similar role model behaving in an environmentally responsible manner, people may become less likely to follow suit. We posit that this effect is more pronounced when the behaviors advocated by the role model are atypical (i.e., less commonly adopted) than when they are typical. Atypical behaviors are likely to magnify the superiority of the self-similar role model. The self is then evaluated even more unfavorably and the intention to engage in the same behaviors is lowered further.

We propose three studies to test the proposed framework. In the first two studies, we will influence the participants’ confidence in their self-view as environmentally friendly people with different stimuli and test whether exposure to a similar role model as opposed to a dissimilar one causes people to perceive themselves as less environmentally friendly. Their intention to engage in environmentally responsible behaviors will then be undermined. In the last study, we will test whether the effects observed in the first two studies are influenced by the typicality of the behaviors advocated by the role model. The findings of the proposed research will provide insight into how policymakers should utilize role modeling in public policy campaigns (e.g., role models in social advertisements) to encourage green living. The findings will also enrich the literature on social influence by identifying a situation in which using a positive role model who shares similar characteristics with the audience may backfire.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/M06/19
Project Title: To evaluate ALA-based Photodynamic Therapy efficacy for sex-hormone dependent gynaecological cancers using a new in vitro cell culture model
Principal Investigator: Dr CHU Shihng-meir (TWC)

The most prevalent gynaecological cancers, such as breast and endometrial cancers, are widely considered to be associated with sex hormones including 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P). In general, surgery, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are the conventional treatments for gynaecological cancers. However, these therapies lead to the loss of ovarian functions and the acute onset of menopause, resulting in infertility and more severe menopausal symptoms, eventually affecting the patients' quality of life. Thus, new alternative diagnostic and therapeutic strategies are deserved to be explored.

5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)- and hexaminolevulinate (H-ALA)-Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is one of the FDA approved therapeutic interventions for breast cancer/recurrent nodules and cervical cancer. The therapeutic principle of PDT combines a photosensitiser (PS) with a specific wavelength of light and molecular oxygen to cause selective cancer destruction. ALA is a naturally generated pro-drug that is converted into protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) (with photosensitising properties), which finally becomes heme via the heme biosynthetic pathway in all nucleated cells. However, PpIX accumulates in cancer cells due to disruption of the enzymatic heme pathway. Upon light irradiation, activated PpIX generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) that destroy cancer cells. Interestingly, previous studies have demonstrated that the accumulation of PpIX is enhanced by the presence of 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P) in isolated human endometrial cells and ovarian endometriotic epithelial cells, implying that the increased PpIX potentially enhances the efficacy of PDT in sex-dependent cancers. However, the underlying mechanism of hormone-mediated PpIX accumulation in cancer cells remains unexplored.

Current hormonal studies that use the traditional cell culture model have the limitation of using a single hormonal dose exposure at a particular time point, which differs from the real physiological hormonal conditions of cancer growth in patients. Therefore, for further hormonal study of PDT diagnosis and efficacy, it is worth developing a new cell culture model to simulate a microenvironment of continuously fluctuating sex hormone levels that is better approximates the true clinical conditions.

In this study, we aim to develop an in vitro cell culture model to evaluate the efficacy of ALA-based PDT for hormone-dependent cancers. This design aims to use a medium exchange setting to simulate the normal physiological exposure to fluctuating sex hormones during the menstrual cycle and the tumour microenvironment in patients. Through such ‘mimicking’ of hormonal conditions, the outcomes generated in this study will include the accumulation and intracellular localisation of PpIX, enzymatic expressions and functions for PpIX accumulation, and the efficacy of ALA-based PDT via manipulation of the sex hormones in selected hormone-dependent cancer cells. This study will address the lack of a suitable culture model for hormonal studies and; the effects of sex hormone manipulation on ALA-PDT efficacy, thus providing more convincing scientific evidence to facilitate hormonal studies, especially for sex hormone-dependent cancers.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/H02/19
Project Title: A Grammar of Niesu, a Southeastern Dialect of Nuosu in Sichuan
Principal Investigator: Dr DING Hongdi (PolyU SPEED)

This project is to describe the grammar of Niesu, a lesser known Tibeto-Burman language spoken by around 660,000 Yi people in Liangshan, Sichuan, Southwest China. What will be investigated include: the sound system, the parts of speech, the formation of the words, the structure of the phrases, the structure of the sentences, the meanings, and the organization of the information, to name a few.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H13/19
Project Title: 'Permanent Parabasis': Irony and Self-Consciousness in Dostoevsky's Novels
Principal Investigator: Dr FUNG Kai-yeung (HSUHK)

This project examines the fictions written by the nineteenth-century Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, arguing that the characters he creates are fundamentally ironic. By ironic I refer to a state where the characters are highly self-conscious and responsive to their own train of thoughts. The ironist is attracted to thinking and thinking about thinking, creating an unsettling labyrinth in his mind. It is this self-doubling aspect of thinking that I want to adopt to my analysis.

The effect of irony in Dostoevsky is subversive and has not been fully addressed by critics. Paul de Man, a deconstructive thinker reading Schlegel, points out that irony creates deep confusions and may lead to madness. For de Man, irony has to do with a permanently self-conscious state, which suggests a kind of abysmal thinking that has no end. To de Man that is the situation where the ironist is most vulnerable to madness, a state in which he constantly reacts to the limits of his thinking and refuses to accept a complete and stable understanding of the self.

Rereading Dostoevsky with de Man will hopefully create renewed interest in critical and literary theory in Dostoevsky studies. Contemporary criticism of Dostoevsky is largely informed by Russian history, religion and culture. This project intends to deviate from such approach, with the hope to free Dostoevsky from his national soil and consider him as an ironic writer whose major task is to illuminate the dynamic quality of language and communication.

A deeper understanding of irony will better equip the reader to analyse the complicated structure of different discourses in life, ranging from text message and artwork to newspaper and political speech. Irony alerts the reader to be sensitive to the multifarious meanings of a text, rather than rushing to foreclose them. Broadly speaking, researching irony will cultivate a more sensitive readership of the contemporary world.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H02/19 (Withdrawn)
Project Title: Breaking disciplinary silos: Examining the effects of a technology-supported team-based interprofessional education model in the Social Sciences (TBIPESS)
Principal Investigator: Dr GANOTICE Fraide A. Jr. (Shue Yan)

Many of the social problems faced by humanity can only be solved through interprofessional collaboration. However, studies show that expertise continues to be trapped in disciplinary silos. Interprofessional education (IPE) may be a key to fostering interprofessional cooperation. Compared with traditional silo-based education that focuses on domain-specific knowledge, IPE fosters the development of boundary crossing skills that can extract the most from the integrated expertise of interprofessional team members. Despite the recognised benefits of IPE, disciplinary silos in education in many countries including Hong Kong remain prevalent. The helping professions have professionals and non-professionals from different disciplines working together to optimise services. However, currently, students receive little or no formal training in developing 21st century skills such as communication, teamwork and collaboration, which are vital to interprofessional collaborations. For students to reach their potential, compartmentalised education must be reduced, which calls for the dismantling of disciplinary silos to give way to IPE. To address the gap between the training students receive (input) and the desirable 21st century skills (output), our proposed study will develop a technology-supported ‘team-based interprofessional education model in the social sciences (TBIPESS).’ This model will implement IPE in the social sciences and examine its effects on learning (cognitive) and collaboration (affective) using a technology-supported teambased learning pedagogy. In particular, we hope to achieve the following three important objectives via this mixed methods study: (1) examine the immediate and sustained effects of TBIPESS on both the affective (e.g., readiness of interprofessional learning) and cognitive outcomes (e.g., knowledge in interprofessional practice); (2) examine how technology facilitates the development of desired interprofessional competencies in TBIPESS (e.g., collective efficacy, teamwork and collaboration); and (3) understand the group dynamics of how students from different disciplines engage and develop collective understandings within and across face-to-face learning sessions. A qualitative study using interactional ethnography will complement the quantitative results through video-based ethnographic analysis of students’ collaborative processes within the team-based environment. To attain these objectives, we will involve undergraduate students studying Social Work, Psychology, and Education from two universities in Hong Kong. The proposed study will take the IPE literature to the next level by examining how curriculums can be mapped to trigger students’ readiness to engage with interprofessional teams of helping professionals. An IPE-enriched social sciences curriculum (e.g., allowing Psychology, Social Work, and Education students to learn together) maximises the benefits of collaborating disciplines by providing optimal client care. There is a need for a functional technology-supported IPE model for the social sciences in Hong Kong which will serve as a benchmark against which best practices will be recognised; this in turn will inspire other learning institutions to integrate IPE into their curriculums. This will also raise issues for debate and creative thinking. Identifying effective intervention programmes critical to optimising students’ collaborative problem-solving skills will also yield practical insights into formulating effective policies and practices for IPE models in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H13/19
Project Title: The impact of bilingual exposure on the language development of Cantonese-speaking children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Principal Investigator: Dr GE Haoyan (OUHK)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, along with repetitive and restricted behaviors. Autistic children have significant impairment in communication, showing delays in language development, and having difficulties in understanding and responding to others. It is commonly believed among professionals and parents that exposure to two languages imposes an additional burden on children with ASD. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support or reject this belief. With the prevalence of ASD at a recently estimated one in 59 children and an increasing number of bilingually-exposed children, it is urgent to understand how bilingual exposure interacts with ASD.

To date, only a few studies have examined the effect of bilingual exposure on the language development in children with ASD. While these studies showed no additional language deficits or delays in bilingually-exposed autistic children, they were mainly conducted in English-speaking contexts with two typologically similar languages. It is unclear whether these findings can be generalized to autistic children who are exposed to two typologically different languages. Moreover, previous studies have primarily used language assessment tools and parental reports. Autistic children’s language ability needs to be measured directly in real conversational settings.

To fill in these gaps, we propose to investigate the impact of English exposure on the language development of Cantonese-speaking children with ASD in Hong Kong. We focus on this population not only because they are under-studied, but also because the majority of Cantonese-speaking children in Hong Kong are exposed to English. We will first use language assessment tools to construct their profiles of general language ability, and then conduct well-designed ‘game’ tests to systematically examine their specific linguistic knowledge in both comprehension and production. By combining these two methods, we shall first identify whether Cantonese-speaking autistic children show language impairments relative to their typically developing peers. We shall then examine whether and how bilingually-exposed children with ASD differ from autistic children who are primarily exposed to Cantonese.

The findings will enhance our understanding of the relationship between bilingual exposure and the language development in children with ASD. Practically, the results will be helpful for developing effective interventions and rehabilitation programmes for the treatment of ASD in Cantonese-English contexts. The findings from this project will also inform evidence-based practice and provide essential guidance to parents, clinicians, educators and other professionals who make language decisions for Cantonese-speaking children with ASD in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B01/19
Project Title: Chief Sustainability Officers, CSR-based Executive Pay Performance Measures, and Firm Value: International Evidence
Principal Investigator: Dr GOH Lisa (HSUHK)

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be broadly defined as a firm’s consideration of its impact on society, the environment and other interested stakeholders when carrying out its activities – that is, its consideration of the needs of those other than owners or investors, who are more likely interested in profits. We will examine two key mechanisms of CSR: (1) the hiring of a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and (2) the use of CSR-related performance measures in the compensation contracts of corporate senior executives, such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). We will use data from a sample of stock exchange-listed companies in various countries, as firms’ attitudes towards CSR and the regulatory and institutional environment vary widely across countries. First, we will examine the frequency of these two practices internationally, providing evidence of their importance, and examine country-level and institutional features that may lead to variation in their adoption. Second, we will examine the extent to which these two practices are associated with overall CSR performance and the potential effects on firm value, as measured by their stock market values. Third, we will investigate whether increases in firm value (if any) are linked to soft CSR measures (i.e. talking about what they do) or hard CSR improvements (i.e. doing). Finally, we will examine country-level characteristics that may increase or weaken the effectiveness of appointing a CSO or adopting CSR-related performance measures in executive pay contracts.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/M08/19
Project Title: Characterising and Fingerprinting Biomarkers of Urolithiasis: A Case Control Study (Stage 2 of 2)
Principal Investigator: Prof GOHEL Mayur Danny Indulal (TWC)

Progress in the characterisation of an appropriate diagnostic biomarker to detect the formation of renal stones has been hindered due to (i) ill-defined and insufficiently purified urinary macromolecules, (ii) the use of commercial products of mainly non-kidney and non-human origins as test materials and (iii) inadequate models of stone formation. We previously established that among the urinary glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronan (HA) is an important and reliable inflammatory marker for patients with crystals and stones. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), percutaneous nephrolithonomy (PCNL) and ureteroscopy (URETS) are now widely used to eradicate stones. However, recurrence rates remain high, up to 60%, over the lifetime of certain patients. These recurrent stone-formers are good models for the establishment of important biological markers and mediators of inflammation in the blood and urine of renal stone patients. The proposed study is the second part of a two-stage study. In stage 1, we investigated the levels of cytokines and biomarkers in the serum and urine samples of six cohorts including stone patients, normal controls and patients with and without infection. The stage 1 study identified interleukins (ILs) 6 and 8, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and HA as promising biomarkers for screening and monitoring purposes, in addition to the biochemical work-up. For the stage 2 study, recurrent stone-formers will be recruited for a longitudinal study to investigate the levels of specific biomarkers identified among inpatients after ESWL/PCNL/URETS treatment. We will use urinalysis and/or blood tests that can reliably detect the development of silent renal stones. The analysis of the biomarker parameters in recurrent stone-formers will aid in the development of a simple biochemical profile of stone formation.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M07/19
Project Title: Study on Microplastics Pollution and Its Interactions with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Mangrove Wetlands
Principal Investigator: Dr HAN Jie (OUHK)

Plastic pollution is ubiquitous and has pervaded water, land, and even the air we breathe. There is a growing concern about adverse effects caused by plastic debris pollution in coastal wetlands, especially plastics with relatively small size, such as microplastics (MPs). Microplastics are tiny plastic particles with size less than 5 mm. They are not only marine litters which may be taken by aquatic animals, birds and then passed to human beings through food chains, but also substrates for accumulation of various contaminants, such as PAHs, heavy metals, antibiotics and pesticides. The microplastics may carry and transfer these toxic contaminants for a long distance by different sorption mechanisms, hence seriously endangering marine and ecosystem. Therefore, there is a need to determine the abundance of microplastics in the environment and their complex interactions with various contaminants.

In this study, Guandong Neilingding Futian National Nature Reserve, China (in short Futian mangrove) is chosen as our targeted study area, because it is a unique ecosystem with high species diversity but affected seriously by human activities from two prosperous cities, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. In addition, Futian mangrove is an important inter-tidal estuarine wetland which accumulates contaminants from land, river water and tidal water. Previous research studies, focusing on concentrations of microplastics and PAHs in the environment, can help us to know the extent of the problem. However, these studies are unable to evaluate the potential synergistic, additive, and/ or antagonistic effects resulting from the interactions of different PAHs on microplastics. Therefore, in this project, three common PAHs: phenanthrene (three-ring PAH), pyrene (four-ring PAH) and benzo(a)Pyrene (five-ring PAH), are selected as model contaminants to study their sorption and desorption processes on selected microplastics: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS), which are frequently detected in the aquatic environment.

The current proposed project will analyze the abundance of microplastics in Futian mangrove first. Secondly, the concentration of PAHs, pH, salinity and dissolved organic matter of water and sediment will also be measured as background information. Thirdly, competitive interactions of PAHs contaminants and three types of microplastics models will be investigated to find out which type of microplastic has the best sorption capability towards PAHs. Lastly, synergistic, additive, and/ or antagonistic effects will also be evaluated through simulating sorption/desorption behaviors under different pH and salinity conditions. This research work is expected to provide scientific knowledge on the pollution problems of microplastics in the mangrove habitat through studying sorption-desorption of PAHs on microplastics by combining field surveys and laboratory experiments. Through investigations on interactions between microplastics and contaminants, the combined effect and risk from different levels of PAHs on microplastics can be modeled that may help control and manage the problem at Futian Mangrove Nature Reserve.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E06/19
Project Title: Guiding Emotion: Constructing New Approach for Design Studies
Principal Investigator: Dr HO Amic Garfield (OUHK)

Interest in the relationships between emotional concerns and design began with the work of some design scholars in the 2000s, mostly based on users’ perspectives. However, few of the studies explored the changes in junior design students’ emotions during their process of innovation or looked at how their changes of emotions could influence their creative process and even the outcomes.

Junior design students may have difficulties to process the received information from objects that involve many human interactions. This suggests that the process of their innovation is made up not only of rational and logical considerations; in addition, it includes the technique, experience and skills of the designers and even their responses towards the external environment or stimulants around them. Their responses to the external environment can be regarded as emotional responses. Hence, ‘intrinsic factors’ including emotion or affective systems, can affect junior design students’ considerations in the design process. From past studies and investigations, theories about relationships between emotions, the process of making decisions and the design process were developed. The close linkages between designers, design outcomes and the users/audiences in the ‘design and emotion’ aspect were also explained. Besides, the relationships among junior design students’ emotional changes, internal factors, and external factors of the design process were investigated. These theories provided sufficient theoretical background to consider how to help junior design students manage their emotional changes in their design processes for better performance in these processes. These theories would potentially be applied in design education. The needs for introducing these theories to junior design students’ design processes and influencing their manipulation in their design processes were clearly indicated. However, effective approaches to these aspects have not yet been developed.

Hence, this study aimed to investigate some approaches for guiding junior design students to control their emotions in the design process. Practical guidelines are possible tools to help them, and elements involved in these guidelines have to be identified. As a result, effective approaches for motivating junior design students to learn these guidelines should be explored. The difficulties of introducing design and emotion concepts into design learning have to be investigated. Also, the contributions that would be achieved after following the guidelines and applying concepts of emotion in design studies have to be proposed. In order to achieve these, an empirical study will be conducted for collecting both quantitative and qualitative data for further analysis. Junior undergraduate participants in creative arts (design) studies will be invited to manipulate and apply the proposed principles in their design processes. This empirical study will be conducted via two research studies. Participants will be invited to take part in several design processes for investigating emotional elements; these would enhance junior design students’ abilities to manipulate their design processes. Participants’ performances will be monitored by an emotion-tracking mobile application. Their feedback on these proposed principles will be collected through individual interviews and an emotion recognition system. Also, the effectiveness of the proposed principles in the collaborative design process will be collected in a focus group. Lastly, the elements that potentially motivate junior design students to manipulate their design processes with managed emotional elements will be reflected by participants’ lablogs. This study will provide a demonstration of how junior design students can introduce emotion in the design process.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/E06/19
Project Title: Blockchain-based E-Commerce Analytics Model for Facilitating Trusted Data Exchange and Digital Supply Chain Integration
Principal Investigator: Dr HO To-sum (HSUHK)

The blooming of e-commerce in the past decade has not only brought significant economic growth to the e-retailers, but also new opportunities and challenges to the logistics industry. To seize the opportunities arising from the emerging e-commerce logistics in Hong Kong, logistics service providers (LSPs) are forced to take on new roles and adjust their operations to fulfill the dynamic customer demand. This research aims to develop a Blockchain-based E-Commerce Analytics Model, integrating blockchain technology and the machine learning algorithm for managing data across the supply chains and predicting dynamic e-commerce order demand.

This research enables industry practitioners, especially LSPs and e-retailers, to plan ahead for the subsequent e-commerce operations. From the perspective of LSPs, the prediction model allows the firm to realize the e-commerce order arrival patterns, enabling flexible re-allocation of the right amount of resources in real time to deal with the hour-to-hour fluctuating arrival of orders in distribution centers. From the perspective of a retailer, the generic prediction model allows the firm to predict, for example, the sales volume among various e-commerce sales channels, the sales volume from different customer segments, and the e-commerce sales performance of different product categories. By tackling the unpredictability of demand in the e-commerce business environment, this research contributes to an effective decision support strategy for logistics `operations planning, hence, enhancing e-commerce logistics competence in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B17/19
Project Title: The influence of environmental concern on green bond yield
Principal Investigator: Dr HO Wai-ming (OUHK)

This study will examine the influence of environmental concern among investors on the yield of a green bond. Green bonds are debt instruments specifically earmarked to be used for projects with an environmental goal. Faced with rapidly growing need to invest in environment-friendly projects and growing demand from investors for green assets, green bond issuance has skyrocketed in recent years.

This study adopts a matching method to estimate the yield differential between a green bond and a synthetic conventional bond with almost same characteristics. Then, the yield differential is regressed on a measure of environmental concern among investors to determine the influence of the environmental concern on the bond yield. One of the novel ideas of this project is to make use of online search activity to measure and track the trend in subjective environmental concern that are traditionally captured by surveys.

The results of the study have important contributions to both academics and practitioners: (1) extend the sustainable finance literature in the relation between environmental concern and bond yield; (2) offer advice to investors who invest in bonds that comply with certain green bond standards and guidelines; (3) provide implications to governments, central banks and regulatory bodies driving green bonds market in order to achieve sustainable development.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/P01/19
Project Title: Mechanistic studies of ferrate(VI) oxidation of pollutants and biological molecules in aqueous solutions
Principal Investigator: Dr LAM William Wai-yan (THEi)

This project is concerned with the mechanistic studies of ferrate oxidation of pollutants and biological molecules in aqueous solutions. Iron is the second most abundant metal in the earth’s crust other than aluminum. The ferrate (VI) ion, FeVIO42, has been known for decades. It is a powerful oxidant, even stronger than permanganate (MnO4) and chromate (CrO42). FeVIO42 is capable of oxidizing a variety of inorganic and organic compounds, pollutants and microorganisms. Hence it is of fundamental interest for chemists to study the reactivities of ferrate (VI) with a variety of substrates.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H15/19
Project Title: Perception and Production of the Putonghua Tone of Non-Chinese Speaking South Asian Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr LAM Man-fong (OUHK)

Since the handover in 1997, the language policy of Hong Kong has been characterized by biliteracy and trilingualism (兩文三語). In this multilingual context, Chinese language as a foreign language has become one of the obstacles for the long-established and rapidly rising population of non-Chinese-speaking students to integrate into the Hong Kong community. Although scholars and the Hong Kong government have recently worked hard to help these students improve their written Chinese and oral Cantonese, their proficiency of spoken Mandarin or Putonghua, which is also an important component for second language Chinese education in Hong Kong, has not been reviewed and documented. The present study, the first of its kind, examines the tone perception and production of Putonghua with a special focus on ‘South Asians’ in Hong Kong including three main sub-groups, namely Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistanis. Tone is of crucial importance for preparing learners to communicate adequately in tonal languages as it has its own distinctive meaning; and Putonghua tone brings great difficulty for second language (L2) learners from non-tone languages (e.g., Kiriloff, 1969; Bluhme & Burr, 1971; Shen, 1989). The present study investigates the Putonghua learning by learners of South Asians whose native languages are non-tonal. The goals of the research project are: (1) to explore the learning experiences of Putonghua by South Asian students in Hong Kong; (2) to investigate how Putonghua tones are produced and perceived by South Asian students; and (3) to identify the linguistic factors affecting South Asians students’ acquisition of Putonghua tones.

To examine the Putonghua tone acquisition by South Asian students in Hong Kong, this project will adopt a mixed-method approach to ensure the results reflect the learning experience of Putonghua and allow a more nuanced understanding of their tone acquisition. A sociolinguistic survey of students randomly selected from secondary schools will be conducted first, including a large-scale questionnaire aimed at a general understanding of the participants’ language background and other languages experience. This will be followed by semi-structured interviews with selected participants in order to get an in-depth look at their difficulties with Chinese language. They will then be invited to participate in both perception and production tests with the Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) in order to investigate the possible errors related to Putonghua lexical tone perception and production. The cross-linguistic factors which influence language experience on perception and production of Putonghua tone will then be discussed – such as the typological distance and second language status, as well as suggestions for improving teaching and learning observed in the empirical study.

Since there is no published study on the learning experience of Putonghua by South Asians in Hong Kong, this proposed project will contribute to filling this gap. The research findings and products will inform Putonghua teaching and enhance teaching quality by contributing theories of teaching Chinese as a foreign language. The research findings will also have some intriguing pedagogical implications for Putonghua teachers, learners, and researchers for understanding better the major problems encountered by Hong Kong students of non-Chinese-speaking South Asian ethnic minorities in learning Putonghua tones.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/M01/19
Project Title: Adapting to the challenges of the tenth decade of life: A mixed method study with Hong Kong near-centenarians and centenarians
Principal Investigator: Dr LAU Hi-po (Shue Yan)

Worldwide, the population is aging rapidly. One in two children born after the year 2000 is expected to live up to his or her 100th birthday. Hong Kong is no exception. While the number of older adults aged 65 or above has been expected to rise from 1.16 million in 2016 to 2.59 million in 2066 (2.2 times), the number of adults aged 80 or above has been expected to increase from 340,300 in 2016 to 1.21 million in 2066 (3.5 times). The growth of centenarians could be even more – from about 2,800 in 2014 to 46,800 in 2064 (16.7 times). Enabling the oldest members of our society to live a dignified, autonomous and satisfying life – despite their age – is the key goal for initiatives and policies that support successful aging for all.

Survival to age 80 is qualitatively different from survival from 80 to 100 years or older. The latter group tends to face more physical frailty, more difficult recovery from diseases, the departure of their spouse and even of their adult children, and their own imminent death. Despite these often-unresolvable ontological situations, our previous study – The 2011 Hong Kong Centenarian Study – revealed a group of near-centenarians and centenarians (NCCs; aged 95 or over) who lived a dignified, autonomous and satisfying life. While our previous study was the first in the territory to survey the physical and psychosocial well-being of NCCs, this study will investigate how these extremely old individuals cope with their multidimensional challenges using a century’s worth of coping resources and strategies. This study conceptualises the coping process of NCCs as managing the loss and gains of limited personal and social resources. To cope with an adversity, older adults have to deploy personal and social resources to various reactive and proactive, cognitive and behavioural coping strategies. Successful resolution restores well-being and may lead to growth in resources. Families of these older adults are situated in the current era where aged-old wisdom constantly meets with new technologies under the changing normative family structure. In exploring the coping process, this study will investigate the impacts of indigenous wisdom, family caregiving and use of technology on the quality of life of the older adults and their families. Our findings will enable policymakers and care professionals to devise responsive strategies to facilitate aging-in-place for older adults and support to families with adults of advanced age as well as prepare the younger cohorts for aging successfully into their last decade of life.

This study employs a convergent parallel mixed-method design. Cognitively sound Hong Kong Chinese older adults who have had their 95th birthday will be recruited together with their primary family caregivers. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service will support the recruitment of participants through their networks of elderly and rehabilitation services. Quantitative data, including physical health, psychological well-being, social support, spirituality, personality, coping strategies, lifestyles, health and social care utilisation, use of technology, caregiving experience and demographic characteristics, will be collected through a structured survey. Accounts of participants coping with adversities will be assessed using a life-story interview approach. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected through face-to-face interviews. Each data collection session will last for about 2.5 to 3 hours, with both the caregiver and the older adult participating. While the quantitative data will facilitate comparisons across participants and with international centenarian studies, qualitative data will provide rich contextual information about participants’ struggles and coping processes. The use of the mixed-method approach balances the depth and breadth of the information collected. The estimated sample size is 150 dyads. The project will take 36 months.

As the third generation of centenarian studies begins to blossom worldwide, a centenarian study of Hong Kong Chinese older adults that is based on a clear conceptual framework with emphasis on the contribution of indigenous wisdom and gerontechnology, that capitalises on the strengths of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and that engages the voices of family caregivers is urgently needed to inform the next era of policies that will suit the needs of families with adults of advanced age.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M09/19
Project Title: Molecular Characterisation of Lipid-associated Protein Trafficking Pathway in Plant Cells
Principal Investigator: Dr LAW Angus Ho-yin (THEi)

The appropriate and timely delivery of membrane plays pivotal roles in plant growth, development and cellular homeostasis. Much has been known about the targeting of transmembrane domain proteins, however, less is known in a class of luminal secretory proteins associated with a type of glycan-lipid moiety known as glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) for membrane binding and sorting to plasma membrane (PM) and extracellular space. At PM, these GPI-anchored proteins (GPI-APs) function in pollen tube guidance and reception, cuticle formation and cellulose deposition in cell wall in plants. Interestingly, a portion of GPI-APs endocytosed exclusively by clathrin-independent endocytosis (CIE) into a specialised compartment known as “GPI-AP-enriched early endosomal compartments” (GEEC) in mammalian cells. Despite its significant functions in plants, the understanding has seldom been sought from a trafficking perspective. In this project, Arabidopsis GPI-APs will be utilized as molecular marker to identify putative CIE and the existence of GEEC in plant cells, as well as characterizing the molecular machinery for GPI-APs export from ER and TGN, with an aim to understand the involvement of trafficking as an additional level of functional control of GPI-APs in plant growth and development. With a combination of the state-of-the-art cellular, molecular, biochemical and cell imaging techniques, we aim to better characterize the lipid-associated protein trafficking pathway in plant cells. The outcome of this research is expected to advance our frontiers of knowledge in plant cell biology, further explore the intimate relationship between proteins and lipids in plant cells, and stimulate potential cellular engineering application in biopharmaceutical production of useful biomolecules.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H04/19
Project Title: Thinking Out of the Box: Challenges for Accountants in Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr LEE Mui-fong (HSUHK)

Anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) are the prevalent topics on the top of the agendas of various countries/jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, in recent decades. Money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) activities can multiply crime and damage the economy. Studies found that some accountants had played an important role in facilitating ML and TF activities and were occasionally willfully blind to illicit activities.

The launch of the recently amended Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO) in Hong Kong in 2018 has imposed unprecedented duties on accountants to combat ML and TF. Under the amended AMLO, accountants are required to perform customer due diligence to know their customers. They are also subject to more onerous duties to report suspicious transactions to competent authorities and bear higher liability risks. Financial institutions which have been required to undertake customer due diligence measures to their customers since 2012 may carry out the measures by means of accountants. The expanded role for accountants in combating ML and TF can help safeguard the integrity of the financial market in Hong Kong and further enhance the reputation as an international financial centre with a clean and safe business environment. It is crucial that the amended AMLO is implemented fully and effectively. Accountants are required to reset their traditional understanding and assume a more proactive role in AML and CTF. This is not an easy task for even experienced accountants. The amended AMLO has lately attracted a great deal of the attention of practitioners, financial institutions, academics, regulators, management of the companies and policy makers.

Accountants are the gatekeepers to the financial markets. There are quite a number of studies on accountants from a legal perspective but studies on accountants in AML and CTF, a new area of laws launched/to be launched globally, are insufficient. This study will adopt a two-pronged approach to examine and evaluate the challenges for accountants from a legal perspective after the implementation of the amended AMLO. On the one hand, this study will analyze court cases to assess the possible liability risks on accountants in AML and CTF which drive the acts of accountants for compliance. On the other hand, this study will examine and evaluate the effectiveness of the legal and regulatory framework in AML and CTF for accountants in Hong Kong from a practical point of view, with reference to those of Australia, the UK and the US, where strong and robust measures for AML and CTF are put in place. The result of the study will provide recommendations for accountants to implement the measures of the amended AMLO and for regulators to develop a holistic approach in regulating accountants in AML and CTF. It can also provide practical insights to practitioners, financial institutions, academics, regulators, management of the companies and policy makers.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/E02/19
Project Title: Develop the Most Sustainable, Safe, Reliable and Low-carbon Domestic Fuel for Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr LEUNG Chun-wah (PolyU SPEED)

According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department 2017 report, the domestic sectors consume 18.95% of our total annual energy consumption of 340,000x1012 J. The main sources of energy consumption for domestic sectors are electricity (12.45%), and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels including essentially town gas (4.53%) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) (1.97%). The commercial LPG using in Hong Kong consists of 30% propane (C3H8) and 70% butane (C4H10) and is commonly used in the domestic sectors as it is conveniently available, user-friendly, and safely and reliably operated. However, the air pollution problems caused by burning LPG especially the toxic-gas emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOX), and the global-warming-gas emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) are of great concern due to their very significant and negative impacts on human health and the environment. This air-pollutant-emissions problem is much magnified in Hong Kong because of the extremely dense population. In addition, due to the rapid depletion of global hydrocarbon resources there is also an urgent need to seize for alternative green energy sources.

Hydrogen gas (H2) is identified to be a zero-emission fuel as it reacts with oxygen (O2) to form mainly water vapor (H2O) and release large amount of energy. H2 is the lightest fuel of 2 kg/kmol with an excellent calorific value of 150 MJ/kg and is currently using as the fuel for spacecraft propulsion. However, there is a very serious concern in applying H2 as domestic fuel related to its handling and operation because of its very high flammability and explosion natures. Hydrogen gas is highly flammable when burning with oxygen gas even though in small amount. In addition, the very high risks of easy leaking, low-energy ignition, extremely low-temperature vaporization (–252.87°C), explosion and embrittling the metal container should be fully overcome before H2 can be distributed, stored and consumed as a safe and reliable domestic fuel.

We take the challenge to obtain the advantages and overcome the drawbacks in using both LPG and H2 fuels by blending them together in appropriate percentages to modify and improve their properties to achieve the following goals:

  • Produce lesser global-warming gas, CO2, because the H2 content of the blended H2/LPG fuel is carbon-free.
  • Extra-lean-burning of LPG can be achieved because its narrow flammability limits (including both higher and lower limits) can be extended by mixing with H2. Extra-lean-burning will usually lead to lesser CO, HC and NOX emissions.
  • The very high flammable and explosion risks in applying H2 can be overcome as these negative properties are modified by blending with the more stable LPG.
  • High leakage risk caused by the strong buoyancy of H2 can be reduced by mixing with the heavier LPG. Hence the potential fire and explosion risks caused by H2 leakage are eliminated.
  • High cost of H2 can be reduced by mixing with the cheaper LPG, therefore the blended H2/LPG fuel is economically sustainable for the commercial and domestic sectors.

We will carry out first half of the proposed project to fully explore and ensure the safety, stability, reliability, and the high thermal and low pollutant-emission characteristics of the blended H2/LPG fuel. We aim to achieve a breakthrough in applying H2/LPG as the most suitable and sustainable domestic fuel for Hong Kong. In second half of the proposed project, the problems encountered during the production, delivery, storage and application of the blended H2/LPG fuel will be fully considered and solved. We will complete the proposed project by designing the safe, stable, reliable and effective systems in producing, storing, delivering and using the perfectly blended H2/LPG domestic fuel. We will present our research findings after completing each of the four planned Tasks via refereed journals/conferences and provide research training to our students.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H12/19
Project Title: Shifting Strategies and Coalition Dynamics of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Hong Kong: The Role of Perceived Opportunities and Threats
Principal Investigator: Dr LI Hang (Shue Yan)

This project aims to investigate the shifting strategies and coalition dynamics of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Scholarship on social movement has recently acknowledged the contributions of studying strategic choices and coalition formation to the broader literature on movement emergence and success. This project aims to address these neglected yet important research areas. This project examines the dynamics and evolution of the pro-democracy movement in the following ways: (1) it systematically traces the changes in the structure of political opportunity and threat in Hong Kong during the period between 1997 and 2021; (2) it examines the changes in perceptions of opportunity and threats among pan-democratic parties and activist groups in Hong Kong during the above period; (3) it analyzes how structural and perceived opportunities (and threats) shape choices of movement strategies between institutional and extra-institutional politics among pan-democratic parties and activist groups; and (4) it also analyzes how structural and perceived opportunities (and threats) facilitate or inhibit alliance formation or disintegration among these groups. To achieve the above research objectives, this project adopts three methods of data collection: archival research, in-depth interview, and field research.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B05/19
Project Title: Leading through Paradox: A Dual-Component Approach of Control-Autonomy Paradox
Principal Investigator: Dr LIAO Yi (HSUHK)

Dealing with paradox—the coexistence of conflicting yet interconnected elements—is naturally embedded in a leader’s role. One of the most pertinent paradoxes for any leader stems from the need of managing control and autonomy. The control-autonomy paradox refers to the leader’s need to address the conflicting yet complementary control and autonomy simultaneously which is traditionally viewed as an “either-or” relationship. Extant leadership literature primarily focuses on either one of these two elements. For example, transactional leadership focuses on how to effectively control for maximum output, while empowering leadership emphasizes the importance of giving employees. Increasingly, however, both organizational power and employee autonomy are being recognized as essential for effective leadership in modern leadership literature. Proper control and appropriate autonomy are both needed, yet mismanagement paradox (i.e., excessive control and excessive autonomy) causes problems. Without proper mechanisms for leveraging, instead of getting the best of both worlds (i.e., benefits of proper control and autonomy), both leaders and employees may suffer, whereby the former lose control and the latter are left to shoulder the blame.

Although simultaneous control and autonomy is needed for modern-day organizations, there is a need to explore ways for leaders to effectively manage the paradox. In this proposed study, we aim to explore this solution from an action identification theory perspective. To examine the proposed research model, a three-wave, multi-sourced method for collecting empirical data will be adopted. Research findings yielded by this study will facilitate future research on the topic of leader paradox.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E06/19
Project Title: Development of composite separators with superior thermal characteristics for safety enhancement of next generation lithium-ion batteries
Principal Investigator: Dr LU Xiao-ying (THEi)

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) and plastic products have been widely used in our daily life. With the rapid development of advanced LIBs and massive consumption of disposable plastic products, technical challenges of battery safety and proper treatment of plastic waste have received considerable attentions in recent years. Particularly, with the pursuit of high energy density and fast charging technology, serious non-uniform temperature distribution in LIBs can lead to catastrophic thermal runaway. The recent occasional fire and explosion accidents of LIBs, which might be initially triggered by localized overheating, have significantly stimulated the rapid development of LIBs with high safety. In this project, composite separators containing metal nitride ceramics of high thermal conductivity and plastic waste of high thermal stability will be synthesized by electrospinning process. By optimization of electrospinning parameters, thermally conductive composite separators of micro/nanoscale structure, high crystallinity and compatible interfaces will be successfully developed for effective and fast dissipation of localized overheating, thus achieving a uniform heat distribution for excellent safety performance. To reduce interfacial thermal resistance, compatible interface design will be realized by surface functionalization of metal nitride ceramics and plastic waste, using liquid exfoliation and plasma irradiation treatment, respectively. The obvious advantages of metal nitride ceramics over conventional metal oxides include high thermal conductivity, excellent chemical stability and avoidance of H2O formation in electrochemical environment. Moreover, the plastic waste has high thermal stability and relatively low cost for regenerating high value-added battery separators. In this project, we also hypothesize and target on demonstrating the combined benefits from metal nitride ceramics and plastic waste in composite separators for safety improvement of LIBs. Electrochemical evaluation and safety performance of composite separators will be systematically conducted in coin cells and pouch cell prototypes under normal and adverse conditions, in comparison with commercial separators. The temperature distribution of pouch cells under adverse conditions will be visualized by infrared thermal imager and thermal runaway temperature will be quantified by accelerating rate calorimeter measurement. On the basis of the above experimental and numerical studies, process-property-performance relationship will be well established for rational design of composite separators with superior thermal characteristics. Overall, this waste-to-resource project will be meaningful for safety enhancement of LIBs and healthy development of plastic recycling industries. The composite separators developed in this project will also pave new research directions for addressing thermal runaway issue of energy storage systems.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E10/19
Project Title: On effective utilization of small training sample for computer short answer grading based on semi-supervised clustering algorithms
Principal Investigator: Prof LUI Kwok-fai (OUHK)

Providing prompt assessment feedback is important for learning effectiveness. Grading automation can overcome the limitations of manual grading and enable around-the-clock assessment services that can enhance the learning experience of online learning platforms. Compared to multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank types of assessment, the automation of grading short free text answers poses significantly more technical challenges. Short answer questions induce highly specific responses from recall of topical knowledge. A good computer grader should be sensitive to the semantics of the text and flexible to alternative ways in expressing an answer. Machine learning is regarded as an effective technique for computer short answer grading because it can fit training sample as well as generalize to unseen answers. Past research in computer short answer grading follows either the supervised learning approach or the unsupervised learning approach. The former is based on training a supervised classifier with a sample of graded answers. It can theoretically achieve outstanding accuracy if the sample is comprehensive, balanced and sufficiently large. The latter is based on a clustering algorithm to divide student answers into clusters according to their semantic similarities. Student answers within each cluster are considered to be equivalent and should receive the same grade. If a ground-truth grade is assigned to an answer of a cluster, the grade can be propagated to the other answers of the same cluster.

The input of ground-truth grading sample, either in the form of reference answers or manually graded answers, remains essential in automated grading. The practicality of computer grading rests on the minimizing the effort required in obtaining the sample. The supervised approach is regarded as impractical because it expects a large training sample for each grading task. The unsupervised approach, on the other hand, can perform without training sample. The clustering stage operates solely based on the textual semantic model used in differentiating student answers and requires no training sample. Human graders can be engaged later to assess the ungraded clusters. Effectively, clustering and grading has become two separated steps. A critical limitation is that the formation of clusters may be inconsistent with the perspectives of the human graders. Two answers with different grades may still be found in the same cluster.

This proposed research project investigates a semi-supervised approach for short answer grading. This third approach aims to utilize a small graded sample to produce clusters of answers consistent with the perspectives of the human graders. The constraints between answers inherent in the graded sample, such as same-cluster and different-cluster, are to be observed in the cluster formation. The resulting optimization problem is susceptible to local minima and therefore a novel evolutionary algorithm based semi-supervised clustering algorithm will be developed. A number of formulations of multi-objective optimization will be evaluated based on gold standard short answer grading datasets.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H10/19
Project Title: Participants' physiological and behavioural responses to evaluative and facilitative mediation narratives
Principal Investigator: Dr LUI Wendy Chit-ying (Shue Yan)

The landscape of the use and development of mediation in settlement of disputes in Hong Kong has been fast changing. As defined in the Mediation Ordinance (Cap. 620), mediation as a structured process where an impartial individual, without adjudicating a dispute, facilitated the parties to the settle their disputes. To achieve this, mediators in Hong Kong are trained to “facilitate” parties to negotiate instead of evaluating the merits of the disputes for them. While the facilitative model remains the mainstream practice in Hong Kong, there are different variations of practice. One major variant is “evaluative mediation” where the neutral adopts a more “active or interventionist role, making suggestions or putting forward views on the merits of the case …” (CEDR, 2018, Brooker 2007). The two practices, as western studies shown, are not mutually inclusive. Academic studies in mediation tend to confined to the significant impact of mediation in the legal process, for instance accreditation standards (Honeyman 1995), mediation principles, process and skills (Boulle and Nesic 2010), satisfaction or settlement rate (Quek, Chua, & Ngo 2018). Hong Kong is in the crossroad of considering including evaluative mediation as one of the practice modes, but the practice of evaluative mediation practices is under-researched. To provide sufficient research output in support of this policy decision is imperative for the development of mediation in a direction that aligns with its purported aims.

This study is original in that it extends the scope of research beyond the legal realm, and adopted an interdisciplinary approach combining legal and psychological theory and methodologies. The aim of this study is to investigate the behavioural and physiological response on a participating party in mediation sessions when facilitative or evaluative narrative skills are used. The findings will provide evidence-based data on the differences in the use of evaluative and facilitative mediation narratives, which are factors to be considered in enhancing the use of evaluation in mediation in Hong Kong.

Stage 1 of the study will involve the development of two standard sets of mediation narratives in its verbal form, one on facilitative model and the other on evaluative model. Stage 2 will be an experiment in investigating the behavioural and physiological responses of participants on both facilitative and evaluative mediation models.

In addition, the attempt to link physiological and behavioural responses to mediation practice will support the efficacy of the effective strategies in mediation practice that is scientifically substantiated. The result of the study will be significant not only for training of mediators, but more importantly for the development in Hong Kong the choice of style of mediation on a sound theoretical ground. The study will also increase mediators’ awareness that adopting different mediation strategies may lead to different behavioural and physiological responses, that might have an impact on parties’ decision making on whether to settle a dispute.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/E04/19
Project Title: Impacts of Dependent Flight Delay on Cabin Crew Pairing Reliability in Airlines
Principal Investigator: Dr MA Hoi-lam (HSUHK)

Reliability of crew pairing for cabin crew is one of the most critical issues in airline operations. According to aviation regulations, for the sake of aviation safety, the maximum working hour of crew in each duty shift is governed by the civil aviation department. Violation of which is strictly prohibited. Thus, if any crew member is expected to be overtime at the completion of the coming flight, this member is not allowed to serve it. As a result, airline has to find a replacement, e.g. by standby crew at hub, or by “deadhead” to go oversea. These disruption recovery activities are remarkably costly and would seriously jeopardize the normal scheduled flight operations. Therefore, crew pairing reliability is critical and significant in airline business. For a crew pairing, in general, crew members should be able to complete all the assigned flights (tasks) within their maximum working hour. However, because of uncertainties, e.g., flight delay, this causes longer completion time than expected, which may lead to violation of the regulations. In common airline practice, buffer time is assigned between two connected flights to absorb the effect of flight delay. In most of the buffer time assignment studies, the determined buffer time is analyzed based on the delay probability of the concerned flight, which is deemed to be independent of its previous connections. However, in fact, departure delay can be caused by either the arrival delay of the previous connected aircraft or crew members. The objective of this project is to develop a new modeling for the relationship of departure and arrival flights in crew pairing studies, and a new optimization methodology to improve the reliability of crew pairing.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/E01/19
Project Title: Securing Smart-City Infrastructures Using Markov Game
Principal Investigator: Dr MA Yu-tak (HSUHK)

Hong Kong is transforming into a world class smart city, which involves building many smart infrastructures, such as power grids, transport monitoring and management systems, and telecommunication systems. These infrastructures are smart because they have cyber (network-connected) components, which make the sharing, analysis, and aggregation of the collected data and information possible. Hence, these infrastructures are also examples of cyber-physical systems. However, cyber components of these critical infrastructures also make them vulnerable to cyber attacks and complicating the interactions among components of the system.

In this project, we study how to make these critical cyber-physical systems resilient against malicious attacks using a Markov Game framework. Markov Game is a suitable framework because it can model the continual interactions between two players (provider and attacker of the system) together with the underlying uncertainty of the system.

The contribution of the project is twofold. First, we will handle the computational complexity of the Markov Game model with various approximation and simplification approaches. Second, we will develop a simulation platform which enables the quantification of the proposed Markov Game framework with empirical studies.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E05/19
Project Title: The modelling and development of Twin-screw type extrusion system for making recycled filament materials in additive manufacturing
Principal Investigator: Dr MAK Shu-lun (OUHK)

In 2016, China imported two-thirds of the world’s plastic waste. In 2017, China government banned to import plastic waste. Much of the waste plastic will be disposed to the local landfill. Jenna Jambeck (University of Georgia) estimated that China’s new policy could displace as much as 111 million metric tons of plastic waste by 2030. Over 5.2 million plastic bottles were throws away in Hong Kong every day. Most of plastic bottles were made of PE, PP and PET materials. It is lacked of facilities to collect and recycle the waste plastic bottles to useful materials for other manufacturing purpose.

Additive manufacturing (also commonly as 3D printing) was developed since 1987 and rapidly developed in the past ten years. Additive manufacturing is one of key technologies in the framework of Industry 4.0. The America Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) technical committee F42 approved a list of seven additive process categories, including (1) material extrusion; (2) material jetting; (3) binder jetting; (4) sheet lamination; (5) Vat photo-polymerization; (6) Powder bed fusion; and (7) Directed energy deposits.

The material extrusion was applied to develop the Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and now available to domestic users. The polymeric material such as polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA) is widely used to make the filaments for making the product. PLA material is a biodegradable thermoplastic material derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch, cassava roots, chips or starch. Due to low cost of FDM machine and PLA filament material, the waste materials are rapidly increased.

The 3D printing filaments were made by the extrusion process. The current extrusion machine is using a single screw to apply the high temperature and pressure to melt the material and push the material through the die to make the filaments. The disadvantages of single screw extrusion include: (1) poor mixing capability for different recycled polymeric materials; and (2) melted polymer may block extrusion machines and give poor printing quality.

The proposed study will investigate the distribution and physical properties of common polymeric materials of waste plastic bottles in Hong Kong. The team will further determine the essential additives to improve the properties of waste plastics in order to suit the application of 3D printing. And the table-top twin-screw extruder will be designed and fabricated to make the filaments. Both the maintainability and productivity of extrusion and 3D printing processes will be evaluated by comparing the mechanical strength of printed products. In the long term, successful completion of this project will have significant implication for local, mainland China and even international recycle plastic filaments manufacturing industry.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M02/19
Project Title: Effects of sewage sludge-Chinese medicinal herbal residue-biochar amendment on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in agricultural soil and plants
Principal Investigator: Dr PAN Min (THEi)

In Hong Kong, 2.8 million cubic metres of sewage is collected by the public sewage system every day from residential, commercial and industrial locations according to the Drainage Service Department. The scale of agricultural land use in Hong Kong is generally small due to scarcity of land and geographic constraints. Sewage sludge (SL) contains a high content of organic matter, phosphorus, nitrogen and microelements, Chinese medicinal herbal residues (CMHRs) mainly contain fibrous plant materials, are rich in carbon, and may provide excellent fertilizer quality with high antipathogenic properties through both biotic and abiotic mechanisms. Biochar (BC) has good fertilizing properties and improves the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils. The combined SL-CMHR-BC amendment may allow immobilization of the bioavailable fraction of some organic pollutants, heavy metals and resistant bacteria. CMHR contains chitinolytic characteristics that could release antifugal proteins to inhibit some specific soilborne phytopathogens, and they might inhibit antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in agricultural farms. SL-CMHR-BC amendment could promote the growth of plants and provide necessary nutrients to arable land. Therefore, the use of SL-CMHR-BC amendment as a part of soil amendment will result in a high-end organic fertilizer with possible antipathogenic properties. SL-CMHR-BC amendment may lead to a reduction in the environmental risks of different types of persistent contaminants and increase the physico-chemical and antipathogenic properties of soil.

Antibiotics are frequently used in livestock and human medicine for growth promotion, illness and disease treatment. These compounds may undergo metabolic reactions, such as hydroxylation, cleavage and glucuronidation, in animal and human bodies, and significant fractions are excreted in their original form along with the metabolized products via urine and manure. The fate and determination of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soil-plant system has become an important issue for environmental and public health protection. ARGs are considered as new contaminants as they are easy to retain in soil-plant system and be transferred to some specific soilborne phytopathogens by horizontal gene transfer in terrestrial environment. Moreover, the bioaccumulation and translocation of different type of antibiotics have been recognized as a main source for ARGs generation and propagation. However, there is a dearth of scientific information regarding the inhibition of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in agricultural soil and plants.

This study was conducted to determine the nutrient level and best proportion of SL-CMHR-BC to be used as soil amendment and to test the hypothesis that SL-CMHR-BC amendment has an inhibitory effect on antibiotic and ARG bioavailability in soils and crop accumulation in the presence of high nutrient levels. The potential impacts of antibiotics concentration on the generation and transfer of antibiotic and ARG bioaccumulation mechanisms in the soil-plant system will be evaluated, and we will find an effective way to solve antibiotic pollution problems in terrestrial environments and to decrease the ecological risks of ARGs and their potentially adverse effects on human health via the food chain.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H15/19
Project Title: Postcritique and Joseph Conrad
Principal Investigator: Dr PARKER Jay Thomas (HSUHK)

Joseph Conrad is one of the most recognised political novelists in English literature. Scholarship since the late twentieth-century has tended to focus on studying literature through a critical lens; for Conrad, this has often involved criticism of his treatment of race, particularly in his most famous novel, Heart of Darkness. In contrast, other scholars have taken literature as a form of critical writing. Conrad has also been read in this way: his ironic scepticism makes him a prime example of literature as critique.

This project is inspired by new approaches to humanities and literary study that can be classified as postcritical. These ask how we can build on critique, thinking in new ways about literature and the wider humanities to understand better the constructive contributions they can make to society and politics.

Using Conrad’s political writing as a case-study, the project has two aims: firstly to take an established interpretation of Conrad, which reads his writing as exploring betrayal, and ask how it changes our understanding if we substitute the more positive concept of conversion. Though conversion is commonly a religious concept, Conrad repeatedly portrays political beliefs as akin to religious creeds. Furthermore, conversion, in a religious or ideological sense, is connected to betrayal, because it requires that we ‘betray’ our old beliefs. Yet conversion is a more positive concept than betrayal: it implies that the beliefs we have abandoned were wrong. Secondly, the project aims to develop this analysis alongside the work of other Conrad scholars, creating a collection of essays united by postcritical aims. This will present new understandings of Conrad as well as synthesising and evaluating a range of novel postcritical approaches. In so doing, it will provide a broader view of how this emerging field is inspiring new thinking in literature and the humanities.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H04/19
Project Title: Food and music: negotiating diasporic culture, identity and integration among South Asians in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr SHUM Chun-tat (OUHK)

Hong Kong accommodates migrants of various nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Although the city promotes itself as a multicultural society, numerous institutional barriers continue to limit the integration of migrants. Offering Cantonese language learning courses to the migrants has been one of the main focuses of Hong Kong’s integration policy over the years. However, it totally neglects how to preserve cultural diversity among migrants, which is the most important element in building an inclusive and multicultural society. Among the different migrant groups, South Asians (Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistani) have received most attention from scholars and policy makers since they are often perceived as being underprivileged. While a large proportion of the literature on South Asians in Hong Kong has focused on their work and employment, education, language, minority rights, gender politics, and access to health services, few studies have been conducted on their traditional cultural experiences in this region. Based on interviews and participant observation, this project will offer a cultural perspective on South Asians in Hong Kong by examining how they manage their cultural life in the city, as well as the role of traditional culture in identity construction, community building, and social integration.

Food and music are key components of South Asian diasporic culture. These are expressive practices through which the South Asians reconstruct their identity in the host society. These embodied practices can help maintain and create new sociocultural relations both within and across borders. The general tendency towards the social integration of migrants is to examine how their cultures trigger discrimination. However, the potential opportunities and benefits offered by migrants’ traditional cultures (food and music) for facilitating intergroup relations and their integration into a host society remain largely neglected. This project will offer an instructive perspective for examining how South Asians utilise various individual and group resources to practise and preserve their own traditional food and music culture in Hong Kong, and under what conditions they are willing and able to use their traditional culture to initiate cross-cultural contact with Hong Kong Chinese. By studying their encounters with Hong Kong Chinese in areas where diasporic food and music culture are practised, this research will make important contributions to the literature and teaching of ethnic minorities, diasporic communities, and diasporic culture. It will not only offer a new perspective for understanding multiculturalism and integration, but also provide the Hong Kong government with suggestions for formulating measures that could help to build a more inclusive multicultural society.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H20/19
Project Title: Prabhākaramitra's Buddhist Translation Team
Principal Investigator: Mr SIU Sai-yau (HSUHK)

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) witnessed the apex of sūtra translation activities in ancient China. Prior to the well-known translation projects led by Xuan Zang (602-664) and Amoghavajra (705-774), one of the most remarkable events in the history of Buddhist scripture translation in the Tang Dynasty was the establishment of the translation team led by the Magadha-born Indian monk Prabhākaramitra (565-633). The team devised one of the first systematic organizational structures for elite Buddhist translation teams and marked the rise of elitism in sūtra translation. The team’s model was later adopted by other translation projects in the Tang and Song Dynasties, including the ones conducted by Xuan Zang and Chuan Fa Yuan (982-1082), and laid a solid foundation for the success of these collaborative translation activities.

Despite the important role of Prabhākaramitra’s team in the development of elite Buddhist translation teams in the Tang and Song Dynasties, there has been rather limited discussion on the translation project. The present research, therefore, aims to study the team by examining a wide range of historical documents and literary and translation records. It is hoped that this research will provide new insights into the evolution of Buddhist translation teams, the role of sūtra translation in promoting Chinese Buddhism, and the rise of elitism in the early Tang Dynasty.

This project will be divided into two core parts. The first part will explore the history of Prabhākaramitra’s team. It will not only explore the origin, organization, and contribution of the Buddhist translation team, but also investigate the translation strategies adopted by the team through a contrastive textual analysis of the Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist texts. The second part will involve the development of an online full-text searchable online archive, which consists of the scriptures and all the historical texts gathered. The digital archive aims to disseminate the research findings and provide a useful resource for further research on the team and relevant translation projects.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H03/19
Project Title: Enhancing Parents' Competency to Support the Social and Emotional Needs of Young Children Through a Parent-Based Empathy and Compassion Intervention
Principal Investigator: Dr SIU Yat-fan (Shue Yan)

In recent years, social and emotional learning of children is a topic that has drawn the attention of local researchers and practitioners. Nevertheless, evidence-based intervention programme that links supportive parenting practice with the social and emotional needs of kindergarteners is lacking. This project will develop and validate a parent-based empathy and compassion intervention programme to empower parents to support the social and emotional needs of their children (aged 4 to 6). The proposed parent-based intervention will include four 2-hr bi-weekly psychoeducational sessions for parents. These sessions will raise parents’ awareness of their children and their own social and emotional needs; and enhance parents’ empathy and compassion to support the social and emotional needs of their children. Besides, there will be 2 monthly 20-min individual parent review sessions to discuss their practice of learned skills and to further build their competence. A mobile app will be developed and weekly take-home practice on empathy and compassion will be given thru the mobile app to reinforce parents’ learning and to keep track of their learning progress. The mobile app will also serve as a platform for the research team to communicate with the participating parents to sustain their learning by sharing effective strategies to address their children’s social and emotional needs.

This study will have four phases. The 1st phase (10months) will involve designing and developing the curriculum and materials for the parent-based empathy and compassion intervention programme to target the social and emotional needs of their children. In the 2nd phase (6months), a pilot study will be conducted to try out the interventional materials and to test the implementation fidelity. Forty Chinese parents and their children aged 4 to 6 years will be recruited from local kindergartens for this pilot study. The interventional curriculum and materials will be evaluated and modified following feedback and reviews from the parents. In the 3rd phase (10months), 100 Chinese parent-child dyads will be recruited from local kindergartens and randomly assigned to either the experimental group or a wait-list control group. Self-reported questionnaires, neurophysiological measures and two 15-min observations of parent-child interaction will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of empathy-based and compassion-based parenting practice. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews with parents will also be conducted to obtain their feedback after the 8-wk intervention. The final phase (4 months) will involve data analysis and dissemination of findings. We posit that parents will build a better understanding of the social and emotional needs of their children and themselves after the intervention. In addition, parents will show higher levels of empathy and compassion for their children and as well as for themselves, improving parent-child relationship and supporting their children’s psychological well-being. The proposed study will enrich our theoretical understanding of the important role of empathy and compassion in building supportive parenting practice targeting the social and emotional needs of young children. In practical terms, it will develop and validate the effectiveness of parent-based empathy and compassion intervention as an early preventive approach in promoting the emotional, social and psychological well-being of parents and children.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H06/19
Project Title: Yuan Zhen’s New Music Bureau Poetry as Memorial to the Throne: Music and Ritual as Means of Governance
Principal Investigator: Dr TAN Mei-ah (HSUHK)

This project will produce the first English-language book to focus on the New Music Bureau poetry of Yuan Zhen 元稹 (779–831). It challenges the current scholarly view that Yuan’s poems are disjointed and burdened with unnecessary allusions and resonances, proposing instead that Yuan’s central thread of emphasis on music and ritual deliberately creates a structure both within and between his poems. Taking a hermeneutic and comparative approach, this study investigates Yuan’s transformation of Music Bureau poetry, changing its focus from portrayals of society to memorials to the throne. It will also show that his poems are essentially different from the answering poems of Bai Juyi 白居易 (772–846). Ultimately, this study sheds light on the New Music Bureau Movement in the mid-Tang; reveals Yuan’s role in the revival of Confucianism; and highlights Yuan’s belief in the significance of music and ritual in cultivating a harmonious society—an idea still relevant today.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/M10/19
Project Title: Radiomics-based prognostic modelling of radiotherapy outcomes for head and neck tumours using an artificial intelligence approach
Principal Investigator: Prof TANG Fuk-hay (TWC)

Aims and objective: The proposed project will aim to develop a radiomics-based intelligence system to predict potential radiation damage to adjacent normal organs and the treatment outcomes of radiation therapy for head and neck cancers for decision making so as to improve the quality of life and prognosis of patients.

Background: Although the delivery of a sufficiently high radiation dose to a malignant tumour is important during radiation therapy, damage to adjacent non-cancerous organs (i.e., organs at risk, OARs) may also occur. However, tissue damage is a multifactorial and patient-specific consequence that is affected both by the complexity of the treatment regimens and the characteristics of individual patients. It is difficult to prevent and predict normal tissue damage, and this consequence complicates the treatment outcomes and quality of life of cancer patients. Therefore, a safe escalation of the dose required for tumour control requires a balance between the damage or toxicity to OARs and the dose delivered to the tumour target.

Method: We propose to use a radiomics-based method with deep machine learning (convolutional neural networks) to predict dose-toxicity. In this retrospective study, image data and radiotherapy treatment plans will be obtained from Internet resources, as well as clinical departments. The project will comprise three parts, as follows: 1. radiomic modelling, 2. textural analysis and machine learning classification of OARs and 3. development of radiomics-based prognostic modelling of radiotherapy outcomes.

Expected outcome: The algorithms and risk predictors derived from this project will be implementable. Consequently, knowledge of the risk predictors will enable better treatment planning and minimise complications for patients.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H11/19
Project Title: How Does Use of Social Media Affect Public Trust in Police?
Principal Investigator: Dr TANG Gary Kin-yat (HSUHK)

Trust in police is a major topic in the study of policing. It affects the effectiveness for the police force to maintain a well-ordered society. It also affects the legitimacy of the whole political institution. Many factors were examined to explain the public trust in police, including the impacts of demographics, trust in the other political institutions, and value-orientation of the citizens, etc. However, there was no investigation on the impact of social media on public trust in police, in spite of their obvious influence in constructing the image of police and articulating the public opinion regarding the performance of the police. This issue is especially prevailing in Hong Kong, which is undergoing radicalization of contentious politics. The performance of the police in handling social protests is always in the spotlight. During the Umbrella Movement, several incidents related to the performance of police were outbroken, and the police was severely criticized by the public. On the other hand, some pro-police groups were set up. The polarizing voices were also demonstrated on social media. Facebook pages that supported and were against the police were both found. In the post-Umbrella Movement time, the Facebook pages also facilitated social mobilization both for and against the police.

Combining the literature gap at the theoretical level, and the contextual fabric in a “movement society” like Hong Kong, this project aims to investigate the impact of social media on public trust in police. In detailed, this project attempts to answer three research questions. First, how do social media construct the image of police and articulate the public opinion about the police? Second, what is the impact of social media on public trust in police? Third, what is the role of critical event, i.e., the Umbrella Movement, in moderating the impact of social media on trust in police? Hypotheses are set up to guide the project to answer the research questions.

A mixed-method approach will be adopted. Content analysis of news and commentaries about police on mainstream media and social media will be conducted to compare the construction of the image of police, and the public opinion regarding the performance of police on the two platforms. Focusing on the nature of social media as social networking sites, we shall conduct social network analysis to examine the relationship between the Facebook pages of political groups, politicians, and opinion leaders on social media, and to map the degree of polarization of opinion regarding the police on different issues.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H18/19
Project Title: Study of Ci Annotation in Republican China (1911-1949)
Principal Investigator: Dr TSANG Chi-chung (OUHK)

The Ci study in Republican China (1911-1949) inherited traditional thoughts of Ci from Qing Dynasty while absorbing the modern culture, which led to its significant achievements in various aspects. It is also worth noting that the development of Ci annotation at that time progressed better than that of the previous generations and is demonstrating its uniqueness. There were about 30 Ci annotations from Qing Dynasty or before. However, the development of Ci annotations had been thriving with a rapid increase in number in Republican China. There were about 25 Ci collection with annotations and more than 80 Ci selection with annotations, which the total had exceeded 100. Some Ci annotations are still widely praised and used by academics nowadays, such as Yang Tiefu’s Wu Meng Chuang Ci Jian Shi, Long Yusheng’s Dong Po Yue fu Jian, Zhan Antai’s Hua Wai Ji Jian Zhu, Deng Guangming’s Jia Xuan Ci Bian Nian Jian Zhu, Yu Pingbo’s Du Ci Ou De, Long Yusheng’s Tang Song Ming Jia Ci Xuan, Tang Guizhang’s Tang Song Ci Jian Shi, etc. These Ci annotations help readers understand the texts through studying semantic, explanation of writing background, and appreciation of writing skills. In this connection, annotation is traditionally seen as a tool to understand texts. However, some scholars may have infiltrated their thoughts of Ci in their annotation works, which may have turned annotation into a form of hermeneutics. This is a significance feature of Ci study in Republican China that worth further investigation. There is still a lack of in-depth and comprehensive research on Ci annotation. Most of the existing studies are from a philological or anthological perspective, and their discussions mainly focus on few annotations. This project will conduct a comprehensive investigation of Ci annotations in Republican China, adopting the traditional philological methodology, such as literary investigation, close reading and comparative study. Meanwhile, the theories of hermeneutics, the archaeology of knowledge, communication and canonization will also be applied. This will be an interdisciplinary analysis for illustrating the theories of annotation and its relationship with traditional Ci studies and the academic studies of Republican China, and also reflect on current research of Ci, in the hope to perform an in-depth and specialized research study on Ci annotations in Republican China.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B06/19
Project Title: The Effects of Expatriate Empowering Leadership on Host Country National Knowledge Sharing: A Self-Expansion Perspective
Principal Investigator: Dr VAN ESCH Emmy (OUHK)

Knowledge sharing is essential to the competitiveness and survival of multinational corporations (MNCs), particularly in today’s highly globalized knowledge-based economy (Syed, Murray, Hislop, & Mouzughi, 2018). Given its strategic importance, many MNCs invest heavily in knowledge management systems and practices (Cabrera, Collins, & Salgado, 2006). MNCs often use expatriates as knowledge agents to disseminate and transfer critical knowledge from the parent organization to its host country operations and vice versa (Armstrong & Li, 2017). However, despite the proliferation of international assignments, knowledge sharing between expatriates and host country national (HCN) colleagues continues to be problematic, particularly when individual differences (e.g., in terms of culture, nationality, ethnicity, language) between the expatriate and HCNs are pronounced (Gilson, Lim, Luciano, & Choi, 2013; Mäkelä, Andersson, & Seppälä, 2012). The proposed research therefore aims to reveal how the knowledge sharing process between expatriates and HCNs can be enhanced despite the presence of individual differences.

Given that expatriates are usually assigned to take up leadership roles in the host country (Elenkov & Manev, 2009), that leaders are central to the process of knowledge sharing (Bryant, 2003), and that empowering leadership behaviors foster knowledge sharing (e.g., Chourides, Longbottom, & Murphy, 2003; Yang, 2007), this research proposes and empirically examines the important role of expatriate’s empowering leadership behaviors for HCN knowledge sharing to occur. Specifically, by drawing on self-expansion theory (Aron & Aron, 1986), we propose that an expatriate’s empowering leadership will enhance HCN knowledge sharing via a self-expansion process. In addition, we propose that HCNs’ cross-cultural competence acts as an important enabler of this process.

Data will be collected using multi-source dyadic data from HCN employees and their expatriate leaders working in MNCs based in the Greater Bay Area. All measures and scales used will be extracted from widely tested and empirically validated sources and survey data will be analyzed using hierarchical regression analysis and structural equation modelling. As effective knowledge sharing is essential to long-term organizational success in today's knowledge-based economy, the expected findings will have important implications for research and practice.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E01/19
Project Title: Online Topic Modeling with Applications to Fine-grained Sentiment Analysis
Principal Investigator: Prof WANG Fu-lee (OUHK)

Topic modeling can automatically reveal the semantic structure in text and deal with the ambiguity created by synonymous and polysemous words. The technique has been widely used in analyzing documents. As an effective basic model, the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) can obtain document-topic and topic-word probability distributions, but the number of topics needs to be manually specified. To address this, the Hierarchical Dirichlet Process (HDP) was proposed to allow the number of topics to be learned automatically from the data. However, the high computational complexity of HDP and the limited scalability of topic models with a manually determined number of topics make it difficult to apply the above methods to text that is updated in real time. Online topic modeling will thus be developed in this project to tackle the above issues simultaneously. Specifically, we aim to propose a parallel method of processing new documents, an online learning framework for learning model parameters, and a dynamic update mechanism for determining the number of topics, so that responses can be made in real time and the evolution of topics can be captured in online applications. The effectiveness of the techniques developed will be evaluated by introducing the dynamic information of model parameters and number of topics into fine-grained sentiment analysis models.

Parallel processing of new documents. Online platforms such as social networks generate text more frequently than other sources. Therefore, it is very important to handle new documents in a real-time manner. Considering that a thread is light and easy to create, control, and destroy, we plan to process new documents using threads. In this way, new text can be processed in parallel and the response time can be largely reduced.

Online learning of model parameters. The computational complexity of a topic model is mainly determined by the learning of model parameters. The widely used Gibbs sampling algorithm traverses all topics when assigning a topic to each word. To save time, we can split the formula in Gibbs sampling into the document-topic sampling part and the topic-word sampling part. The first part is achieved by the Alias method and the other by the Metropolis Hastings sampling algorithm. Then, the model parameters from historical data are updated with the topic sampling results of new documents. This online learning framework not only reduces the computational complexity of learning model parameters, but also improves the accuracy of topic extraction from online documents.

Hierarchical update of the number of topics. Topics in documents that are updated in real time tend to evolve, so these documents may require a flexible number of topics. We will first assign a lower bound to the initial number of topics according to the size of the current corpus, then propose a hierarchical method to determine the appropriate number of topics in real time. Through this approach, we can simultaneously speed up the model and improve the accuracy of topic extraction.

Typical application of the online topic model. Based on the above parallel processing of new documents, online learning of model parameters, and hierarchical update of the number of topics, we plan to compare the topics extracted in different time periods, and introduce the model parameters and the number of topics over time into sentiment analysis models. This will enable us to improve the accuracy of sentiment prediction by capturing the fine-grained user sentiments as a topic evolves.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H10/19
Project Title: Cyber State-Society Relations in China: The Dynamics of Patriotism and Nationalism on the Internet
Principal Investigator: Dr WANG Shiru (HSUHK)

Scholarly debate on cyber state-society relations in China primarily surrounds whether the Internet can be a platform to initiate political liberalization and, ultimately, democratization from bottom up. Cyberutopianism argues that the Internet has nurtured an online civil society and granted citizens a platform at least partially independent of the state. On the contrary, cyberdystopianism warns that the state in China obtains the capacity to penetrate the seemingly new public space on the Internet. Still other research argues for a pluralistic cyberspace that hosts competing norms and discourses. Ever since 2012, Chinese government has adopted much more proactive tactics than before to control the Internet and “ensure that Internet content more actively served the interests of the Communist Party” (Economy, 2018, p. 71). This is therefore a good time to document the dynamic relationship between the state and society in China in the digital realm, and investigate the extent to which and how the state can assert its power in cyberspace and the digital civil society preserve its potential for democracy.

Drawing upon publicly available data and differentiating the state-imposed patriotism from the nationalism engendered at the grassroots level, this project demonstrates how the Chinese state has adapted to the new media to promote patriotism, compared to its tactics on the traditional media, and how the state and society interact in their respective nationalist discourses. This project first develops a comprehensive dictionary of relevant terms and concepts from the two types of nationalistic discourses for comparison and analysis. Second, the study compares the patriotic discourse constructed on the state-controlled traditional media, particularly print newspapers, with that on digital state propaganda outlets. The disparity if any indicates the extent to which the new media has driven the state to revise its tactics of political indoctrination. Third, the patriotism on the new media, albeit tailor-made for the digital public, may still differ from the nationalism that arises from the digital grassroots level. The difference between the two will be examined in this research with the factor of time incorporated. Cyber state-society relations are manifested by how the state and the netizens respond to each other (i.e., in agreement, dialogue, and confrontation) in their patriotic and nationalist discourses over time.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B07/19
Project Title: Ostracism for the Common Good? A Social Information Processing Examination of the Effects of Workplace Ostracism on Third Party Observers
Principal Investigator: Dr WANG Yamei (HSUHK)

Workplace ostracism is a pervasive phenomenon that manifests itself in the workplace through common workplace behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, withholding information, and hiding resources needed for work (Wu, Wei, & Hui, 2011). Defined as the extent to which an individual is ignored or excluded from interactions in the workplace (Robinson, O’Reilly, & Wang, 2013), researchers have extensively examined workplace ostracism as a dyadic event in which the effects of ostracism on targets and their work outcomes have been overwhelmingly negative. However, further research is needed to examine workplace ostracism as a social phenomenon in which other organizational members (third-party observers) may be indirectly affected through observations and awareness. As individual employees interact with and are often nested within a team environment, ostracism may impact not only the target but also the other individuals that share the same social context (i.e. group members). Much remains unexplored about the social effects of workplace ostracism on third-party observers, work teams, and the processes through which employees react to witnessing ostracism. Moreover, further investigation is needed to clarify how and to what extent witnessing ostracism may not only affect observers’ own attitudes and behaviors, but also the outcomes of the group as a collective.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B03/19
Project Title: Sustain through the Storm of Policy Uncertainty: Evidence from Mergers and Acquisitions in China
Principal Investigator: Dr WANG Zhichen (HSUHK)

Chinese regulators alternately relax and tighten rules, formally and informally, to adapt to the ever-changing market conditions. We will empirically examine the economic consequences of such macroeconomic policy uncertainty on mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Chinese acquirers are uniquely distinguished by their ownership structures, namely, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private firms (non-SOEs). SOEs mainly use M&As to carry out the ruling Communist Party’s political agenda (i.e., politically motivated M&As), whereas non-SOEs are more likely to create synergies and maximize shareholder value (i.e., economically motivated M&As). Therefore, this project will first investigate whether China’s policy uncertainty affects SOE and non-SOE acquirers differently.

Second, we will investigate two plausible mechanisms, namely political connections and corporate social responsibility (CSR), that could mitigate the negative effects on non-SOE acquirers in China.

Non-SOEs could benefit from their key executives’ political connections at the time of an M&A. These politically connected executives are likely to have direct or indirect access to upcoming policy changes. Such political connections may extend to the policy enforcement agencies and relax the agencies’ enforcement efforts. Therefore, we predict that non-SOE acquirers with political connections suffer less from policy uncertainty.

During M&As, non-SOEs will be less exposed to policy uncertainty if they are entitled to favorable treatment due to their CSR activities. According to U.S. studies, firms either conduct CSR activities voluntarily or under pressure from activist shareholders. However, Chinese firms practice CSR to please the most important stakeholder at the top of the CSR pyramid, i.e., the Chinese government, which controls important resources such as financing, licenses, and permits. This project will seek to provide evidence on the real economic benefits that CSR brings to non-SOEs in China during periods of policy uncertainty.

Lastly, we will examine whether the two mechanisms: political connections and CSR, substitute or complement each other for non-SOE acquirers.

The findings from this proposed project should be of interest to academics, regulators, investors, and global business leaders.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/B07/19
Project Title: Is the Same Price Always Fair? Consumer Attitudes and Behavior towards Reporting Suspected Price-Fixing Activities in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr WONG Phoebe Wai-sum (PolyU SPEED)

Price-fixing is an issue of enormous economic significance influencing global sales worth of $16.6 trillion USD dollars, making products and services more expensive for consumers (Connor, 2008, Levenstein and Suslow, 2006). As an attempt to tackle this problem in Hong Kong, the Competition Ordinance came into full effect on 15 December 2015 criminalizing price-fixing (Competition Commission 2015). Problematically, in the most advanced economies, illicit price-fixing conspiracies between competitors have continued to persist despite similar competition laws, often involving some of the largest and most respected companies (Connor 2008; Levenstein and Suslow 2006; Pressey et al. 2014).

Hong Kong government’s strategy to enforce competition laws relies extensively upon Hong Kong people voluntarily reporting suspected price-fixing activities to authorities. By receiving reports from the public of suspected price-fixing cases, Competition Commission can enforce the competition laws more efficiently. Problematically, there are no previous empirical marketing studies regarding consumer behaviour in relation to price-fixing, including how and why consumers may report suspected price-fixing cases to the government. Also, we have little knowledge regarding consumers’ ability to detect price-fixing and consumer perception of price fairness, in relation to price-fixing. This gap in knowledge is surprising, as price-fixing relates directly to a core marketing mix component, pricing (Borden 1964). Also, price-fixing relates directly to consumer perception of price unfairness, which is a prominent area of consumer marketing research (e.g. Kahneman et al., 1986; Campbell, 1999; Xia et al., 2004, Bolton et al., 2003). Overall, price-fixing has a direct adverse influence on consumer well-being by raising the price of products and services, while reducing choice available to consumers (Levenstein and Suslow 2006).

Addressing this gap in literature, the present study is the first empirical study investigating consumer behaviour in relation to price-fixing. In line with Hong Kong government strategy, this research seeks to find more effective ways to nudge consumers to report suspected price-fixing situations. The planned intervention is based on 3 separate research methods, combining an experiment, a survey and a qualitative focus group investigation. Our experiment will seek to understand causality in relation to the consumer’s reporting of price-fixing, including consumer construal of price-fixing, price fairness and behavioural responses. In addition, our survey will use the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen 1991) to investigate consumer attitudes and behaviour in relation to price-fixing. Finally, a focus group study will be used to finalize a nudging intervention, to further clarify the insights gained the experiment and survey results. The ultimate long-term objective of this study is a reduction in price-fixing activities in Hong Kong resulting in lower consumer prices and more choices for the consumers. Also, there will be educational implications in relation to both secondary and tertiary education. In addition, we seek to stimulate a new line of consumer marketing research in relation to price-fixing.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H17/19
Project Title: The Hidden Costs of the Use of Compliance Tactics in Repeated Negotiation
Principal Investigator: Dr WONG Ricky Siu-kuen (HSUHK)

Past studies on negotiation strategy have emphasised the benefits of different compliance techniques, for example, door-in-the-face, foot-in-the-door, the low-balling techniques, anchoring effect, etc. A growing body of research has shown how negotiators using compliance tactic may obtain better negotiated outcomes. Undoubtedly, the use of these tactics is beneficial when there involves only a one-off negotiation. Now we have seen that many opportunities for negotiation training are available at universities and corporate training courses. And, in a real-life setting, it is often that negotiators involve in repeated negotiation. Coupling this with people's knowledge in negotiation tactics, it is contentious that the use of compliance tactic is beneficial in the longer run. The adverse effects of compliance tactic have been neglected in research on negotiation. A more thorough understanding of the potential costs resulting from the use of compliance tactics is important for negotiators or practitioners to make an informed decision.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E07/19
Project Title: Modelling Relevance using Document-Context and Deep Neural Networks in Ad-hoc Information Retrieval
Principal Investigator: Dr WU Ho-chung (THEi)

This project addresses the research question of modelling relevance in ad-hoc retrieval using deep neural networks. Despite the tremendous success of machine learning techniques in recent years (especially deep learning using artificial neural networks) in various fields such as computer vision and natural language processing, there are only few success results in using those techniques in ad-hoc information retrieval. It is argued that while deep learning methods are effective in representation (feature) learning, they have limited power in relevance learning (i.e., determining the relevance of a document to a given query).

In order to incorporate the notion of relevance in ad-hoc retrieval using deep learning methods, document-context is considered in the learning process. Document-context refers to the terms occurred in locations around the query terms in a document. Document-context has long been studied in retrieval models using handcrafted features. The usage of document-context is based on the query-centric assumption which states that relevant information for a query in a document is located around the query terms. Recently, the query-centric assumption is verified by studying the human behavior in the relevance judgment process (Li et al., 2018).

This project proposes a new framework to use document-context in three specific components during the learning process for modelling relevance, they are (i) representation learning for documents and queries; (ii) weight distribution learning for query and document terms; and (iii) diverse pattern learning for query terms occurred in documents. For representation learning, tensors capturing the relationship between query and document using document-context are used as the input to convolutional neural networks. For weight distribution learning, a new strategy for fine tuning the distributed representation in query-dependent word embeddings for specific query is proposed. For diverse pattern learning, listwise matching learning-to-rank strategy using contexts is proposed. The framework uses a combination of the three components to derive retrieval models which incorporate the notion of relevance.

This project aims to contribute to the state-of-the-art ad-hoc retrieval models by incorporating document-context in the machine learning process. The results of this project can help us better understand how to model relevance using machines, the derived retrieval models can be applied in various domain-specific ad-hoc retrieval tasks such as searching for user reviews, social media posts and question and answering threads on the Internet.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B12/19
Project Title: Response Strategy to Negative Online Reviews in the Services Industry: Accommodative or Defensive?
Principal Investigator: Dr YANG Xin (HSUHK)

In this digital era, the service industry is vulnerable to negative online reviews (NORs). Service consumers, more so than product consumers, tend to write NORs because service failure is for all practical purposes inevitable (Levy, Duan, & Boo, 2013). Moreover, service consumers rely on online reviews—and NORs in particular—to a larger extent than do product consumers because service quality is more difficult to assess than product quality (Xie, Zhang, & Zhang, 2014). According to a report from TripAdvisor (2014), 77% of consumers always or usually read online reviews before choosing a hotel. Given the widespread and significant impacts of NORs on brand evaluation (Van Noort & Willemsen, 2012) and purchase intention (Chiou & Cheng, 2003), the proposed research addresses a timely and important topic, one that pertains to understanding how service managers may develop effective managerial responses (MRs) to NORs.

The proposed research has significant managerial implications for Hong Kong, which is “the world’s most services-oriented economy, with services sectors accounting for more than 90% of GDP” (HKTDC, 2019). The findings of this research will help local (as well as global) service firms to more effectively manage the inevitable NORs. They will also offer cutting-edge insights for teaching contemporary courses such as services marketing and digital marketing.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B20/19
Project Title: The Effects of Improved Trade Facilitation and Physical Connectivity of OBOR's Six Economic Corridors on Trade and the Spillovers Effects from the Economic Corridors
Principal Investigator: Dr Yeung Chi-hei (OUHK)

The current study proposes two analyses to evaluate the effects of two main features of the OBOR initiative on the export performance of the six economic corridors and the participant countries. We use data extracted from the World Economic Forum Reports and build gravity models to examine the effects of strengthened infrastructural facilities connectivity and unimpeded trade on exports among countries along the routes. We focus on identifying the differences in the effects of the variable of interest across the six economic corridors. Additionally, we examine the potential spillovers from the six economic corridors to the neighboring countries and the global economy. All these are designed to help China and the participating countries to evaluate if the initiative was a China-first initiative and to assess the regional and global economic influences of the initiative.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M05/19
Project Title: Soil Properties and Microbial Communities in Relation to Tree Performance across Urban Green Space (UGS) Types in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr ZHANG Hao (THEi)

More and more governments worldwide are putting greenery into their national development plan as one of the significant assessments, in order to provide a sustainable living condition to citizens. Urban green spaces (UGS), including urban parks, private and governmental gardens, roadside tree-pits, lawns, and green roofs are major containers of greenery. The UGS brings citizens many benefits both psychologically and physically, contributes to urban biodiversity, serves as technological solutions to environmental problems (such as air pollution and noise). Hong Kong is a highly compact city with a limited amount of land (approximately 24.2%) suitable for build-up areas. The requirements of UGS by citizens are mostly diminished by the need of land. The conditions of UGS are inferior due to insufficient management and poor site conditions in the city. In spite of this, residents in Hong Kong showed their willingness to pay for the UGS to improve air quality, aesthetic, and health, ameliorate air temperature, and provide space between buildings. In order to utilize the UGS in an effective way for a compact city, evaluation and improvement of the quality and management of the UGS in Hong Kong are of great importance.

This proposal adopted an integrated study on tree performance and soil properties in the UGS of Hong Kong to fill the information gaps and assess the correlation of the above features. The tree communities and performance are significant factors to evaluate the biodiversity of the UGS and the most obvious assessing feature to evaluate the UGS. The soil physicochemical properties and microbial communities are essential for the living of plants or can significantly affect the performance of plants in the UGS. Therefore, it is necessary to first have an overall evaluation of the tree characteristics and health conditions and soil properties in the UGS and then assess their correlation. The proposed study aims to examine the in-depth correlation among UGS types, tree performance, and soil properties; the findings can provide recommendations on the design, planning, and management of the UGS in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS13/H02/19
Project Title: A Cutural and Ecological Analysis of Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace
Principal Investigator: Dr ZHANG Hui (Chu Hai)

The significance and value of "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" is very important. The academic community has no intention of authenticity. This controversy is explaining its importance. Most of the scholars who believe that they are true or tend to be true are from the perspective of auction records, painting and calligraphy, and Cao XueQin's friends. There are fewer analysts from the painting itself, and most of them are for a certain painting or a certain poem. It has not yet conducted a holistic study of the Eight paintings. Furthermore, there is no paper linking "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" and his "Dream of Red Mansions" novel.

This plan believes that "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" should not be studied from the perspective of an isolated album. Therefore, this plan takes the eight paintings with poems together from "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" as a whole, and conducts a comprehensive study using the method of cultural ecology with Cao Xueqin's family history and friendship as a historical life space. The originally written novel named "Dream of Red Mansions" by Cao XueQin, the artistic works named "Nanyao Beiyuan Kaogongzhi" and "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" were studied together as an integrated ecology. With a comprehensive vision, the more detailed explanation of "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace" would be presented its root, expression and inner sustenance.

Therefore, this plan will combine the botany in the natural environment, the cultural background of the Ethnic origin from Cao family and the poetry of the social environment, and the originally written novel named "Dream of Red Mansions" by Cao XueQin to comprehensively study the origin, development and cultural and ecological connotation of "Zhongqinren Caozhan Huace".

After the completion of this plan, the novel research and author research of "Dream of Red Mansions" would have been expanded and improved.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/E03/19
Project Title: Energy-efficient joint resource scheduling for wireless networked control systems
Principal Investigator: Dr ZHAO Yingchao (Caritas)

Wireless networked control system (WNCS) is a control system wherein the control loops are closed through a wireless network. The defining feature of a WNCS is that different system components (including sensors, actuators, and controllers) exchange the control signals and feedback signals among them in the form of information packages via the wireless network. There are many sensing and control applications like self-driving vehicles, where the environmental data is collected periodically and control decisions are made by the control algorithms and delivered to actuators afterward. These tasks must satisfy the real-time constraints. The sensors and actuators use wireless network to communicate with the controllers, while the controllers use CPU to handle the data and calculate the best decision.

To measure the Quality of Service (QoS) offered by a WNCS, we usually count how many tasks executed satisfy the end-to-end time constraints.

If we take the self-driving vehicle as an example, the typical tasks work as follows: the sensors (including cameras, radars and lasers) first perform the critical function of detecting the dynamic conditions surrounding the vehicle, and send the data to the controllers. The controllers (processors) handle data received from the vehicles’ sensors and calculate the best decision. Finally, the decision (control signal) is sent to the actuators which physically perform actions such as changing gears, applying brakes, steering, and so on.

How to schedule these real-time tasks in WNCS to make every task satisfy the time constraints as well as to reduce the energy consumption is a key issue in WNCS. There are two kinds of resources involved: the network resource and the computing resource. Traditional approaches schedule the two resources separately. They either assume that the execution time of the control algorithm is negligible or consider it as a constant. Therefore, most of the previous works only focus on how to model the constraints of transmission conflicts, but do not consider the computation time of the control algorithms while enforcing the end-to-end deadlines.

This motivates us to study the Joint Resource Scheduling (JRS) model where two resources are allocated to the tasks, and the three segments of each task have precedence constraints. In this project, we model each real-time task as a three-phase job that consists of three segments: a sensing segment which transmits sensed data to the controller, a computing segment which computes the control decisions, and an actuating segment which transmits the control signals to the actuators. For each three-phase job, its computing segment cannot start until the sensing segment completes, while the actuating segment cannot start until the computing segment completes. Both sensing and actuating segments are processed on the network resource while the computing segments are executed on the computing resource. If all the three segments have arbitrary processing times, it is hard to get the optimal schedule in polynomial time. However, the processing times of the sensing and actuating segments may have some patterns because the amount of data sent to the controllers from sensors of the same type is the same which implies that these sensing segments have the same processing time. Similar argument goes for actuators with the same type. If the patterns of sensing and actuating segments are known, it is possible to design polynomial time optimal algorithms. Our goal is to decide whether all of these tasks can be scheduled while all the constraints are satisfied. If yes, then we want to find an optimal schedule to complete the tasks as soon as possible. Otherwise, we need to adjust the speed of the processors so that they can calculate faster but then the power consumption will be larger. How to balance the processor speed-up and power consumption is another key objective in our project. The proposed scheduling problem is one of the fundamental problems not only in WNCS, but also in other systems that present similar patterns. Any improvement of the joint scheduling method could increase the utilization rate of the system and therefore improve the system performance.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/M03/19
Project Title: An Effectiveness Study of a Narrative Life-design Vocational Counselling Paradigm for High-functioning Youth with Psychosis
Principal Investigator: Dr ZHOU Dehui (Shue Yan)

According to Hong Kong Census and Statistic Department (2018), the number of people aged from 15 to 24 who were using psychiatric specialty hospital service was gradually increased from 50,990 in 2015 to 58,016 in 2017. Along with high-quality evidence-based intervention treatments, vocational recovery that encourages them to embrace a life with meaningful purpose and make a social contribution are equally important to their recovery. In vocational rehabilitation, current supported employment services cater more to adults with mental illness in increasing their employment and job retention while the career life-planning education programme in mainstream schools rarely reach out to young people with psychosis. There is a lack of vocational counselling model and service for this group with the aim to help them create their career and life that are consistent with their dreams and preferred identities. In this interdisciplinary collaboration study, a narrative practitioner, a vocational counsellor, a mental health social worker, two occupational therapists and a psychiatrist will work closely together to develop a new vocational counselling paradigm for high-functioning young people with psychosis on the basis of Savickas’ Life-design Discourse. Guided by the narrative life-design paradigm, we propose a constellation of 3I+2G+1I (three 60-minute individual sessions plus two 120-minute group sessions, and plus one more 90-minute individual session) to help the young people map out their life portraits according to their unique talents and preferred identity, and formulate a life design with an action plan that opens up a flexible psychosocial space consistent with their preferred identities. To promote evidence-based intervention, a mixed design of longitudinal quantitative and qualitative study will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme. The hypothesis is that the proposed narrative life-design vocational counselling programme is effective to help high-functioning young people with psychosis increase their self-esteem, their employment readiness, their career adaptability, their awareness of their inner resource, their understanding of their preferred identities and the motivation for searching for meaningful work. In quantitative study, one hundred and two 15-to-25- year-old Chinese high functioning youth with psychosis will be recruited from a local mental health hospital and then randomly assigned to the intervention group or the control group. A set of standardised psychometric scales at four time points (pre-test, post-test, three-month follow-up and six-month follow up) will be administrated to the participants. the qualitative part of study is crucially important. Through narrative inquiry, we will collect and analyse stories from young participants about their experiences of psychosis, career, personal values, life dream, and hopes for recovery from the narrative life-design group and individual sessions, the semi-structured individual interview at four different time points and the Future Career Autobiographies written by the young participants. The potential outcome of the Narrative Life-design Vocational Counselling programme will be aimed at helping high-functioning youth with psychosis to increase their aspiration for career and make a dare-to-dream step-by-step career plan that matches their unique interests, talents, and preferred identities. The development and testing of this paradigm are expected to inform government and service providers on the vitality of recovery-based career counseling service for high-functioning young people with psychosis.