An image created for the ASI on AI for weather forecasting

Croucher launches 2024 advanced study institutes

6 June 2024

Run in partnership with universities in Hong Kong, Croucher Advanced Institutes (ASIs) are carefully curated by leading experts from Hong Kong and taught by world-leading scientists. This year (with one course slipping into the start of 2025), there are five ASIs:

AI for weather forecasting

Cellular structural biology

Electrochemical energy storage

Ground-based LiDAR networks

Technology in development and disease

Croucher News spoke to some of the scientists leading the ASIs to get some insights into what these courses mean for them—and for scientists in their field in Hong Kong.

One of the features of the ASIs is the very high calibre of the scientists who come to teach on them. Guohua Chen, Director of the ASI on electrochemical energy storage, told us that there were “giants” in this field who would be attending. And Edward Ng, Director of the ASI on ground-based LiDAR networks, said of his course: “The best in the field will be here in Hong Kong.”

Hui Su, Director of the ASI on AI for weather forecasting, told us, “I am very excited that the ASI will bring together world-class atmospheric scientists and computer scientists to discuss how to utilise AI to improve extreme weather forecasts… It is a rare opportunity to gather the brightest minds in the field of AI modelling for weather and climate.”

Liwen Jiang, Director of the ASI on cellular structural biology, was equally delighted with his list of speakers: “They’re truly the internationally recognised leading experts in the field.”

Although these courses are high-level and push the frontiers of current science, some of them also deal with very immediate concerns. Hui Su explained that one of the major challenges the ASI on AI and weather forecasting will tackle is that “current skills for predicting extreme rainfall are very low. The ASI will explore ways to improve extreme rainfall forecasting using AI.”

We asked Edward Ng how he ensured an innovative and collaborative experience on the course. “We invite academics (creators of knowledge) and professionals (users of knowledge) to share needs and wishes, thus, theories and practices of the discipline can be tabled and discussed. And allow ample time for discussions and informal exchanges,” he told us.

Guohua Chen said, “There are lots of challenges and opportunities for young scientists to grasp and conquer. Interaction with the well-established researchers will accelerate the speed of their career development. There might be new ideas generated from the interaction.” He added that “the participation of experts from different fields in exchanging ideas will lead to innovation in research as well as development. We have quite a number of entrepreneurs among the speakers and participants.”

It’s clear that the course directors have plans for building on the impact of their ASIs. According to Hui Su, “We will summarise the findings of the ASI in a journal article and organise follow-on research collaborations. A cross-model comparison project will be implemented and held annually. I hope to organise similar ASI or workshops annually in Hong Kong.”

And Liwen Jiang was equally optimistic of the longer-term impact of the course, seeing it “as a first step for the international-leading experts to know more about Hong Kong and our research, as well as for our local young scientists and researchers to meet the speakers to explore future collaboration. In addition, we also expect that some of the speakers will continue to support our research and education programmes in Hong Kong.”

Sir Gregory Winter, Chairman of Croucher Foundation, said, “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Hong Kong’s outstanding universities to make these in-depth and cutting-edge courses available to young researchers. Helping to bring world-class scientists to Hong Kong to interact with their local counterparts as well as early-career researchers, is a great way for Croucher Foundation to further our purpose of promoting the standard of the natural sciences, technology, and medicine in the city.”

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