Scholarships take doctoral candidates to US

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am

Local science student on overseas sojourn is working closely with space agency Nasa on monitoring air pollution using satellite imagery, with a specific view to Hong Kong

GENEROUS SCHOLARSHIPS have allowed doctoral degree candidates to further their research in the United States.

Polytechnic University doctoral student Charles Wong Man-sing is enjoying his stint at the University of Maryland. As a beneficiary of the young Fulbright scholar scheme, he and the other recipient of the award scheme - Gu Weixia from the University of Hong Kong, who specialises in international commercial arbitration - each receive a grant of US$1,350 a month.

Mr Wong is engaged in a collaborative project with Nasa on monitoring air pollution using satellite images. This is part of his dissertation project aimed at improving the monitoring of air pollution in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. The doctoral candidate at PolyU's department of land surveying and geo-informatics left last September for a 10-month stint in the US.

He said: 'Doing research in a country which is the world leader in space science is exciting and challenging. It will broaden my horizons and consolidate my knowledge. I am fortunate to have selected the University of Maryland, not only because of its awesome campus and intelligent scientists, but also for the marvellous weather, with lots of blue sky.'

The Hong Kong America Centre, which administers the Fulbright Junior Research Awards, has raised the number of awards to five for 2007-2008, for which it received 36 applications. One of the awards is supported by Citigroup and will be reserved for candidates in the fields related to banking and finance. The awards enable students to spend from six to 10 months at American universities. Tuition fees at the overseas institution will be waived, as recipients are expected to have paid their fees here.

Director Glenn Shive said the scheme was intended to give outstanding local PhD candidates international exposure.

'Hong Kong universities are attracting strong local and mainland talents for their PhD programmes. What we want to do is create opportunities to give them some international experience.

'Knowledge is international. It is good to have direct experience in working with the world's best academics in one's field. No one place has it all. An overseas sojourn during one's graduate studies allows for networking and improves one's prospects for finding a job at a university or in the private sector.'

The Research Grants Council is matching funds raised by the centre for the awards.

Dr Shive added that the centre would try to raise funds to create awards targeted at disciplines important to Hong Kong in the coming years, such as logistics. Applications for the awards are usually received between September and mid-November.

Various American institutions also offer residence fellowships for research by foreign students. The Washington-based Brookings Institution Governance Studies Programme, for example, provides one-year awards for PhD students, nominated by their graduate departments, who are conducting research on government public policy ( Information on offers by other institutions can be found at the following websites:;

An initiative of the Australian Government, the Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Awards provides financial support for high-achieving postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows to undertake research in any field of study for four to six months. (www.australianscholarships.