Dr Franco Leung King-Chi (left) and Dr He Jian (right)

Croucher Awards Presentation Ceremony 2021

8 December 2021

Croucher Foundation held a ceremony on 8 December 2021 to present awards to the recipients of the Croucher Senior Research Fellowships 2020 and 2021, Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowships 2020 and 2021, Croucher Innovation Awards 2019 and 2020, and to two recipients of the newly announced Croucher Innovation Awards 2021, in recognition of their excellent scientific research achievements.

Croucher Innovation Awards 2021

Croucher Innovation Awards aim to identify a small number of exceptionally talented scientists working at an internationally competitive level and to offer substantial support to these “rising stars” at a formative stage in their careers. The Awards are designed to enable recipients to pursue their own scientific, intellectual and professional inclinations, to advance their expertise, to engage in bold new work, and to contribute to the development of education and research in Hong Kong. Each award carries a value of up to HK$5 million over 5 years for research expenses of the award winner.

This year’s Innovation Awards went to Dr He Jian and Dr Franco Leung King-Chi.

Dr He Jian, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong

While numerous organic transformations have been achieved in homogeneous catalytic systems over the past decades, the needs for addressing their synthetic limitations, such as high catalyst loadings, poor selectivity, and employment of toxic and expensive reagents, represent challenges and opportunities for the coming generation of chemists. With a wide range of expertise in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and materials science, Dr He and his team have successfully developed several stable and highly reactive heterogeneous copper catalysts for radical coupling reactions. The catalyst loadings are about 100 times lower than those of their homogeneous counterparts, paving the way for large-scale synthetic applications. Supported by the Croucher Foundation, Dr He’s research team will design and synthesize a series of novel metal-organic framework and nanocluster-based heterogeneous catalysts to tackle multiple long-standing problems in organic synthesis.

Dr Leung King Chi, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Since starting at PolyU, Dr Leung’s research programmes are designed and orientated to exploit the full intrinsic potential of synthetic organic chemistry to build new supramolecular structures, functions and hierarchical systems. Inspired by nature’s structural beauty and sophisticated functional processes, the major goal of his research is to design novel supramolecular functional systems, across length-scale, into stimuli-responsive functional soft materials with a focus on the following two major areas: (I) Life-like Supramolecular Soft Actuators - This research programme aims to develop highly dynamic, reversible, and biocompatible supramolecular soft actuators, which are complementary to existing polymeric soft actuators; (II) Controlled Supramolecular Transformations of Hierarchical Systems - This research programme is designed to control reversible transformations of supramolecular assembly and organizations at different hierarchical levels, in supramolecular soft materials and self-assembled two-dimensional structures on various substrate surfaces.