Newsletter No. 473

本刊由香港中文大学资讯处出版,每月出版两期。截稿日期及稿例载于 。 The CUHK Newsletter is published by the Information Services Office, CUHK, on a fortnightly basis. Submission guidelines and deadlines can be found at . to safeguarding human health, can partially offset the adverse impacts of climate change on crop growth, implying that pollution control policy and the issue of food security are intimately connected. We call for greater communication and collaboration among scientists and policy makers across disciplinary boundaries, only then shall we come up with integrated solutions for public health, climate change and the food crisis. Isn’t air pollution equivalent to smog or PM2.5? Why do you turn the spotlight on ozone air pollution? People usually hear of ozone in the context of the ozone layer, which is very high up in the sky and protects living things from ultraviolet radiation of the sun. However, when it exists near the surface and in the air we breathe, it becomes a toxic pollutant. When inhaled, this powerful oxidant can damage the respiratory system and contribute to a range of diseases. The reason ozone air pollution draws less attention from the public and the press, I guess, is that ozone is an odourless and colourless gas at ambient levels. It is an invisible killer, whereas PM2.5 is a key contributor to smog that makes for sensational photos. However, it is generally agreed among scientists and policy makers that ozone and PM2.5 are equally hazardous air pollutants. You have bagged the Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award and the Faculty Exemplary Teaching Award, among others. What is your teaching style? It is paramount to think from the standpoint of my students. I remember how I used to pick up new ideas one step at a time when I was a student, so I won’t presume my class already has some knowledge about what I have to say. In addition, having been trained in drama and theatre, I often try to make my presentation more vivid and animated, and expound on recondite theories and concepts in a narrative style. It hopefully helps to hold the students’ attention and make the content comprehensible at the same time. What are some of your hobbies after work? I have always been a huge music and theatre lover. I can play the piano, and have a penchant for songs from Broadway musicals, such as Miss Saigon and Les Misérables . I also like jazz and pop, but am never a big fan of classical music. I used to act in plays but that’s ancient history. Now I enjoy being in the audience. 你是怎样走上科研路的? 我从小就喜欢探索大自然的奥妙,小时候还试过养昆虫、蜗牛等,虽 然大都给养死了。到申请大学时,我决定到美国攻读环境工程科学, 更在研究院专攻大气科学,研究气候变化和空气污染的问题。我认为 环境科学家的工作非常有意义,因为他们肩负保障人类健康、社会发 展和保护自然环境的重要使命。 你在麻省理工完成学士课程后,再到哈佛修读五年研究院课程。在这 两所顶尖学府做学问,感觉是否如天之骄子? 每天和科学界的著名教授和尖子同学在一起,我反而变得更谦虚,也 驱使我发掘自己在实用科学的长处。由于我比较喜欢身体力行去解决 问题,做研究生时曾一度想过放弃学业,去国际环保或社福机构做前 线工作。但后来发现自己还是很喜欢教学生,又渐渐发掘做科研莫大 的乐趣,就一直留在学术机构,尽力开拓人类知识的极限。 什么机缘促使你回流香港? 我一直很想教香港的学生。在麻省理工做博士后研究的那年,得知中 大正筹备开地球系统科学的课程,但当时还未有该课程的网站,只好 找研究相关范畴的中大教授询问详情,终于联络上现任地球系统科学 课程主任 黄庭芳 教授,他嘱咐我尽快递申请表。我很感恩能成功通过 面试,回到出生成长的地方,做我喜爱的工作。 可以说说去年获颁「世界气象组织青年科学家研究奖」的研究吗? 研究重点是全球暖化和空气污染之间的相互作用怎样夹击影响全球 粮食产量,加剧发展中国家营养不良问题。研究发现,严格控制空气 污染,除了可以保障人类健康,更可部分抵销气候暖化对农作物的伤 害,这表示,控制污染的环境政策其实和农业政策密切相关,着手解 决公共健康、气候变化与粮食危机不同范畴的科学家和政策制定者更 应跨越固有的分歧,联手拟定综合解决方案。 空气污染不就是雾霾和PM2.5吗?为什么臭氧污染同样值得关注? 臭氧通常令人联想到臭氧层。高空的臭氧层阻隔紫外线,是地球的 保护伞,百利而无一害。有害的臭氧空气污染指的是地表臭氧,在我 们周围存在。臭氧具极强氧化力,吸入会氧化呼吸系统,引发各种呼 吸疾病。大众及传媒对臭氧污染的关注不及PM2.5,我认为主要因为 臭氧在室外浓度正常时无色无味,是个隐形杀手;PM2.5则是可见的, 雾霾缭绕的相片更能引起哗然。但科学家和政策制定者都知道,臭氧 和PM2.5是同等危险的空气污染物。 你囊括中大的校长模范教学奖和理学院模范教学奖,你属于哪种教学 风格? 我讲课着意从学生角度出发,紧记自己当学生时怎样从一窍不通慢慢 一步步领会新知识,所以我教书不会只顾自说自话,或假定学生已有 相关基础。另外,我受过戏剧训练,上课也尝试运用比较生动活泼的 语调,像讲故事般演绎艰深的理论和概念,希望令学生听得懂之余又 觉得有趣、不沉闷。 教研以外有何嗜好? 从小到大都喜欢音乐与戏剧。我会弹钢琴,爱弹音乐剧的曲目,像 《西贡小姐》、《孤星泪》,也喜欢爵士乐和中外流行曲。小时候爱演 话剧,但已多年没粉墨登场了,那就当台下观众欣赏别人演出吧。 Why did you decide to become a scientist? I have always been fascinated by the wonders of our natural environment. I even tried to raise insects and snails when I was a child, though I hastened their deaths instead. After receiving my BSc degree, I finally chose to specialize in the field of atmospheric science in graduate school. For me, being an earth scientist is a very meaningful career as I can explore possible ways to protect both the planet and its inhabitants. You spent your undergraduate and postgraduate years at MIT and Harvard, respectively. Did you feel superior studying at such renowned institutions? I only became more humble when surrounded by renowned scholars and intelligent classmates. With an urge to make real-world impact, there was a moment early in my PhD study when I thought of quitting graduate school and work in an NGO or environmental agency instead. But later, I realized I really loved to teach and interact with students. Meanwhile, my passion for scientific research intensified over time, so I decided to continue my academic pursuit to help push the boundaries of human knowledge. What propelled you to come back and work in Hong Kong? I always thought it would be great to teach students in Hong Kong as we share a common cultural background. When I was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, I learnt of CUHK’s new programme in Earth System Science. At that time, the programme website was not even up yet and I had to ask professors in various departments for details. In the end, I was able to get in touch with Prof. Wong Teng-fong , current programme director, who then invited me to submit my application. I passed the interview and here I am, working in a city where I was born and raised. Tell us about the research that won you the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Research Award for Young Scientists. The main thrust of the research is the interplay between global warming and air pollution, and how it jeopardizes global food production and exacerbates the problem of malnutrition in developing countries. Our research shows that stringent controls on air pollution, in addition Photo by ISO staff 理学院地球系统科学课程 Earth System Science Programme, Faculty of Science 戴沛权教授 Prof. Amos Tai 香港首位「世界气象组织青年科学家研究奖」得主 First Hong Kong Winner of the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists ’ 口谈实录 Viva Voce 8 473 • 4.3.2016