Bonus for quake researcher

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 September, 2005, 12:00am

University of Hong Kong PhD student Tsang Hing-ho is on a mission to develop technologies to minimise the damage from earthquakes.

He has been helped along his path with an Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Award, which enables him to further his research in Australia.

The programme is a partnership between the Cheung Kong Group and the Australian government and provides for 300 undergraduate exchanges and 120 postgraduate or postdoctoral fellowships.

Mr Tsang, 24, is using his A$25,000 ($147,000) award to further his research into earthquake engineering at the University of Melbourne.

He began a six-month tenure at the university this week and is modelling the effects of large-scale earthquakes with a plan that could potentially save lives.

Mr Tsang hopes to develop strategies to calculate seismic hazard and risk assessment in areas unprepared for earthquakes, including Singapore and Peninsula Malaysia.

Working in the university's department of civil and environmental engineering, he said his proposed model would assess probability factors and analyse seismic data collected in the region over the past few hundred years.

His Melbourne studies build on eight years of collaboration on earthquake research between the Hong Kong and Melbourne universities.

Mr Tsang said the Boxing Day earthquake off Aceh and the tsunami that followed raised the issue worldwide and governments were now more interested in supporting research.

'Cutting-edge knowledge will be transferred to Hong Kong and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region,' he said. 'The whole methodology will be further developed and I will play an important role in those collaborative works.'

He added: 'I want to do earthquake engineering research because I want to do something challenging and meaningful.'

The Cheung Kong Group and the Australian government agreed last year to contribute A$2.25 million each over three years to create the scholarship scheme.

The awards are split evenly, with half available for Asian scholars to study in Australia and half for Australians to study in Asia.