SENG Awards Celebrate Faculty Research Excellence

Three faculty members at different stages of their careers have been honored in the latest SENG Research Excellence Awards, the School of Engineering’s prestigious accolades that highlight the world-class accomplishments of its faculty members.

New Bright Professor of Engineering Prof Qiang Yang, Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received the Distinguished Research Excellence Award, presented to an established academic with exceptional research achievements and substantial international and local impact and the highest honor awarded. Prof Yang is a world-leading authority on transfer learning, a significant area of research related to machine learning, data mining and big data. Transfer learning is the ability of a system to recognize and apply knowledge and skills learned in previous tasks to novel tasks (or new domains). While this is straightforward for humans, it is very difficult for a machine. Significant publications have included a 2007 International Conference on Machine Learning paper, written together with his students and proposing the TrAdaboost system; and “A Survey on Transfer Learning”. Prof Yang is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, among other eminent bodies, and has a Google Scholar citation record of 30,000.

This year’s winner of the Research Excellence Award was Prof Daniel P Palomar, Electronic and Computer Engineering. The award recognizes an outstanding faculty member with a proven record of research excellence. Prof Palomar is a specialist in optimization. He solved a long-standing open problem through the pioneering use of majorization theory, gaining numerous awards for this 2003 paper. He has subsequently worked on distributed optimization methods for big data systems, receiving the 2015 Young Author Best Paper Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society. He has published three books, over 70 journal papers, has attained around 9,000 citations, and is an IEEE Fellow. Prof Palomar is now applying his insights to financial engineering.

Prof Zhiyong Fan, Electronic and Computer Engineering, collected the Young Investigator Award, which highlights a rising star on the School’s faculty team. Prof Fan’s expertise lies in solar energy and nanotechnology innovation, providing valuable steps forward in the challenging quest for sustainable development. Using three-dimensional nanostructures, he has created a series of technologies to harvest sunlight more efficiently and significantly improve solar cell performance. A further technology that has attracted industry interest offers a potential self-cleaning capability for solar panels. Prof Fan has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers since joining HKUST in 2010 and in total has published over 100 journal articles with 9,000 Google Scholar citations, a remarkable achievement for a young academic.

Nominees undergo rigorous review by the Engineering Research Award Selection Committee, comprising senior faculty members. Criteria include originality, academic and social impact, provision for training research students and leadership in collaborative partnerships.