JUSTL participant: Dr Ian Wing Yin Mo

21 May 2020

Dr Ian Wing Yin Mo recently took up the position of Lecturer in the School of Science & Technology at The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK). Dr Mo obtained his PhD in 2014 from the Department of Biology at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) working in the laboratory of Prof Ming-hung Wong where he investigated the use of municipal food waste as fish feed. He combined food waste with Chinese herbs and prebiotic fibers to formulate fish pellets, and then determined the effect of a variety of different diets on the growth and immunity of several freshwater species including the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), mud carp (Cirrhinus molitorella) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). After finishing his PhD, Dr Mo worked in Dr Anna Oi Wah Leung’s laboratory at HKBU, and then he moved to The Education University of Hong Kong in 2015, where he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow again working with Prof Ming-hung Wong, until his move to OUHK in September 2019.

Current work

Before his recent move to OUHK, Dr Mo worked at The Education University of Hong Kong, where he conducted similar research to what he began during his PhD. Rather than working with freshwater fish species, however, he was involved in developing fish feed from food waste for marine species including the Sabah giant grouper, (a hybrid species derived from crossbreeding between the tiger (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) and giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus)), the potato grouper (Epinephelus tukula), the pompano (Trachinotus blochii), and the star snapper (Lutjanus stellatus). He collaborated with a fish farm in the Sham Wan Marine Culture Zone near the Sai Kung Country Park, to optimize the size of the fish pellets to suit the larger fish species. Now that he is at OUHK, Dr Mo is proposing to continue with research as well as teaching courses on subjects such as Conservation and Biodiversity, and Green Management.

JUSTL Programme

Dr Mo was a participant in the 2012 JUSTL programme, and he worked mainly in the laboratory of Dr Richard McBride, Chief of the Population Biology Branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In Hong Kong, as part of his PhD studies, Dr Mo had been trying to prepare histological sections of the gastrointestinal tract of the fish species he was working with, in order to address if the histology of the gut might be affected by diet. However, because of his lack of experience, he wasn’t able to produce good data. He was fortunate that during his time in Woods Hole a mentor was selected who could help him achieve his goals. To this end, Dr McBride arranged for Dr Mo to visit two histology laboratories in the NOAA Centers on Rhode Island and at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, where he saw the histology equipment used and borrowed some specimens. Dr McBride also taught Dr Mo about the histology of the American Shad (Alosa sapidissima), and he encouraged Dr Mo to catch his own fish for practicing his histological technique. As a consequence, Dr Mo baited a small fish trap with vegetables and squid, and dropped it off the NMFS pier. During his time at Woods Hole, he collected a variety of fish (such as oyster toadfish, spiny dogfish and summer flounder) and invertebrates (such as lobster, spider crab and star fish), some of which he used to prepare histological specimens.

As the histology equipment at NOAA was fully occupied, Dr Mo used the facilities in the laboratory of Dr Alan Kuzirian (Marine Resources Center, MBL). He was advised by Mr George Bell in Dr Kuzirian’s laboratory, who is an expert in conducting histology and histochemistry on invertebrates. Dr Mo learned a lot about the various chemicals and procedures required for fixing and staining the different tissues and organs of the gut, and he was able to incorporate what he’d learned in Woods Hole back in Hong Kong, and use this knowledge in his PhD thesis.

Dr Mo describes his stay in Woods Hole as being “wonderful.” He told me that one highlight of his trip was when he caught a large number of different species in his trap all in the space of just one evening. Dr Mo is convinced that participating in the JUSTL programme helped to shape his career as it gave him a fantastic opportunity to interact with scientists from all over the world who all shared the same interest in fish histology.