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Two PolyU scholars conferred as RGC Senior Research Fellow and Research Fellow

25 Jul 2023

Awards and Achievements

Prof. Meng Ni (left) and Prof. Buyang Li (right) were conferred the title “RGC Senior Research Fellow” and “RGC Research Fellow” respectively.

Two scholars from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have been awarded Fellowships under the Research Grants Council’s (RGC) Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS) and Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) 2023/24 respectively for their excellence in cross-disciplinary research.

Prof. Meng NI, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment and Professor of the Department of Building and Real Estate, has been awarded SRFS funding, while also being conferred the title “RGC Senior Research Fellow”. His cross-field research project aims to promote sustainable and clean energy generation.

Situated across the disciplines of energy engineering and environment, Prof. Ni’s research interests include fuel cells, rechargeable metal-air batteries, electrochemical water-splitting and electrochemical systems for low-grade waste heat utilization. Additionally, he serves as a reviewer for more than 80 academic journals including top-tier publications such as Science, Nature Energy, Nature Communications, Joule and Advanced Materials.

Prof. Buyang LI, Professor of the Department of Applied Mathematics, has received funding under the RFS and is conferred the title “RGC Research Fellow”. His research focuses on addressing pioneering mathematics questions.

Prof. Li’s research endeavours in applied, numerical and computational mathematics have led to the discovery of solutions to a wide variety of mathematics questions. His contributions to the field of mathematics have also earned him the Hong Kong Mathematical Society Young Scholars Award 2022, which recognised his excellence in both research and academia within the mathematics domain.

Prof. Christopher CHAO, PolyU Vice President (Research and Innovation), extended his congratulations to the awardees and said, “The accomplishments of the successful scholars highlight PolyU’s exceptional capacity and competitiveness in promoting and conducting multifaceted research across various academic disciplines. Their achievements serve as an inspiration to other researchers, encouraging them to persist in pursuing impactful research for the betterment of society.”

The achievements of the two researchers demonstrate PolyU’s outstanding academic and research capabilities in interdisciplinary fields, as well as the University’s commitment to scientific research with the goal of addressing global societal needs.

The SRFS and RFS aim to provide sustained support to exceptionally outstanding researchers at the UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong. Each scheme provides ten grants to scholars from any academic discipline, with funding support for a period of 60 months. The supporting university receives a fellowship grant of around HK$7.8 million for SRFS and HK$5.2 million for RFS per award.

Details of the two awardees’ research:

Senior Research Fellow Scheme

Project Coordinator:

Prof. Meng Ni, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment and Professor of the Department of Building and Real Estate

Project Title:

“Protonic ceramic fuel cells for clean power generation: From new cathode materials to new stack designs”


Characterised by their high efficiency and low emission, protonic ceramic fuel cells (PCFCs) are power sources that promise to replace conventional thermal power plants. Despite this, the practical performance of a PCFC stack remains limited due to high energy at the cathode and the non-uniform distribution of reactants in a traditional PCFC stack.
The project adopts both the trial-and-error and machine learning-based approaches to facilitate new cathode material development. Through multi-physics modelling and optimisation techniques, unconventional stack designs, including several nature-inspired stack configurations, will be evaluated for PCFC. The research integrates engineering, chemistry, physics and material science to address the complex challenges of using PCFC for clean power generation.

Research Fellow Scheme

Project Coordinator:

Prof. Buyang Li, Professor of the Department of Applied Mathematics

Project Title:

“Challenges, numerical analysis and new computational methods for curvature-driven surface evolutions and related problems”


This project aims to address a series of long-standing mathematical questions related to the stability and convergence of parametric finite element algorithms for approximating surface evolution under geometric flows and interface evolution under two-phase Navier-Stokes flows (such as gas bubbles in liquids).
The research is expected to produce novel insights into the foundational algorithms for curvature-driven surface evolutions and new computational methods that can improve the accuracy, stability and mesh quality in approximating surface evolutions.

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