Yuen Research Funding

The Yuen Research Grants provide awards of up to $100,000 USD to support faculty research in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area of mainland China for up to a year, with new projects funded quarterly. The purpose of the grants is to spark academic engagement between the University of Chicago and partners in the region and to increase the local impact of UChicago research and faculty experts in both academic and public settings.

For more information on the Yuen Research Grants and other internal funding opportunities for international activities at the University of Chicago, please contact Marie Bejarano, Assistant Director for Global Initiatives and Strategy, at mbejarano@uchicago.edu.

This program, generously funded by Francis Yuen (AB’75) and Rose Yuen and administered by UChicago Global, aims to highlight and strengthen the rich tradition of academic collaboration between the University of Chicago and partners in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area of mainland China. 

1. Yuen Research Projects (up to $100,000, awarded quarterly)

Yuen Research Projects should showcase the best of UChicago research in examining areas of particular interest to the target region, including but not limited to the following themes:

  • Early Childhood, Aging, and the Life Course 
  • Business, Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Urban Environments
  • Healthcare Accessibility, Technology, and Innovation
  • Data Science, Quantum Computing, and Artificial Intelligence
  • Culture and the Arts in the Greater Bay Area

Projects should either lead to a significant outcome within the grant period or serve to initiate a new and promising long-term international partnership. Project funding is available for 12 months starting the quarter after the application is submitted, with the opportunity to renew for an additional year at the conclusion of the funding period. Special consideration will be given to projects that have a potential policy application in the region.


2. COVID-19 Special Projects (variable, awarded quarterly through Winter 2021)

Special projects focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area will be awarded at the review committee’s discretion on a quarterly basis. These projects can fall into any of the categories mentioned above, and should ideally involve collaboration with a local academic partner.


3. Supplementary Research Funds (variable, awarded quarterly)

Additional funds in support of research activities in the region that do not comprise a standalone project may also be requested on a quarterly basis. These activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Collaborations or performances in the arts (up to $30,000)
  • Translational or policy-focused activities (up to $30,000)
  • Seed funding or proof of concept (up to $30,000)
  • Supplemental travel funding in support of ongoing collaborations (up to $10,000)
  • Exploratory visits to Hong Kong and/or the Greater Bay Area (up to $5,000)

Please note that these funds will not be used for stand-alone academic events. For event funding, please refer to the Provost’s Global Faculty Awards funding opportunity for Hong Kong.

The Yuen Research Grants will be distributed quarterly based on the recommendations of an interdisciplinary committee of University of Chicago faculty. Priority will be given according to the following principles:

  • High intrinsic quality. It is expected that the proposed effort will result in a definitive and important outcome that would not otherwise be possible without the level of support available from the Yuen Research Grants program.
  • Meaningful engagement with regional partners in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. The ideal proposal will have a local collaborator already identified.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to the Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area communities. The six thematic areas noted above provide some guidance on areas of particular interest in the region. The proposal should include explicit justification of why the proposed project is relevant to the region.
  • Budget requests should be reasonable, realistic, and efficiently utilized. Our team will be happy to review budgets and/or provide guidance in advance of submission.

Full-time members of the University of Chicago faculty, including tenured and tenure-track faculty, research faculty, library research employees, and special professional faculty are eligible to apply. Projects executed primarily by a graduate student or post-doctoral scholar must have sponsorship and oversight from a University of Chicago faculty member.

Awards will be granted on a quarterly basis with a 12-month duration. Awardees may reapply for additional funding at the end of their award period, which will be granted based on sufficient progress made during the first year and available funding. Augmentation of the grants by the Schools, Divisions, and Departments, as appropriate to the discipline, is allowed and encouraged.

Awarded funding will be transferred internally from the UChicago Global office to the recipient’s desired FAS account, or transferred directly to a partner institution if required (some fees or markups may apply). A Business Objects report of expenditures of these funds will be requested at the midpoint and end of the project period.

The following are examples of allowable budget requests:

  • Postdoctoral scholar or research assistant appointments intended to seed or support international collaborations
  • Travel and living expenses of individual faculty researchers working in the region
  • Research dissemination activities (e.g., publications)
  • Equipment or materials required to conduct the funded project
  • Support for partner institutions’ contributions to the project
  • Marketing materials for artistic performances or collaborations

The following are unallowable budget requests:

  • Salary support for University of Chicago faculty

As a reminder, please note that these funds will not be used for stand-alone academic events. For event funding, please refer to the Provost’s Global Faculty Awards funding opportunity for Hong Kong.

Please contact Marie Bejarano at mbejarano@uchicago.edu  if you have a question about whether your proposed activity is an allowable expense type.

Yuen Research Grants are awarded quarterly based on the University of Chicago’s academic calendar and funding should be used within 12 months of the award date. Application deadlines for the upcoming academic year are listed below:

  • October 1, 2020
  • December 1, 2020
  • March 1, 2021
  • June 1, 2021

Proposals should be submitted via the InfoReady Review Portal for internal funding opportunities at the University of Chicago. The following materials will be required:

  1. PI’s name, title, unit, and contact information
  2. Name, title, unit, institution (if applicable), and contact information of any collaborators at the University of Chicago or partner institutions
  3. Project type applying for (Yuen Research Project, COVID-19 Special Project, or Supplementary Research Funds)
  4. Abstract of the proposed project (≤ 300 words)
  5. Description of the proposed project justification, activities, and timeline (≤ 3000 words)
  6. A brief outline of contingency plans for the project based on a range of public health situations over the coming year.
  7. Proposed detailed budget and any additional funding sources (template available via InfoReady Review). 

All Yuen Research Grants awardees are required to complete a short final report at the conclusion of their funded project in addition to a financial summary. Information on reporting requirements will be provided to awardees.

For more information on the Yuen Research Grants and other internal funding opportunities for international activities at the University of Chicago, please contact Marie Bejarano, Assistant Director for Global Initiatives and Strategy, at mbejarano@uchicago.edu.

Funded Projects:

Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, China (EPIC-China)

PI: Michael Greenstone

Over the past three decades, China’s remarkable economic growth has raised hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and improved living standards on a scale unrivaled in economic history. But the inexpensive, reliable energy that has fueled this growth has also increased environmental pollution that is damaging human health and carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to climate change.

Chinese policymakers have begun implementing an ambitious agenda to address these challenges. Over the past five years the central government has made incredible progress in its “war on pollution” and taken positive steps to confront climate change. Yet, as policymakers continue to work toward additional improvements to reduce pollution and carbon emissions without sacrificing economic growth, it will be crucial to identify the most cost-effective and efficient policies available.

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) is an interdisciplinary research institute focused on solving the world’s most complex energy challenges through an integrated approach that combines cutting-edge research with outreach and government partnership. In 2019, EPIC launched a dedicated effort in China to work with the government entities throughout the country to identify highly effective solutions to the twin challenges of air pollution and carbon emissions. Led by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone, EPIC-China has already formed critical partnerships with regulators and local research institutions, and is positioned to rapidly expand several projects underway. EPIC-China’s team includes senior staff in Beijing and Hong Kong, including a research director based at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

BFI-China: Data Initiative for the Chinese Economy in Hong Kong

PI: Chang-Tai Hsieh

China is a vast country with a complex economy that has changed rapidly over the past four decades. The Becker Friedman Institute’s China Program is conducting ground-breaking research to provide a better understanding of the factors driving China’s extraordinary economic expansion. A key objective of this Initiative is to develop a reliable database about the impact of China’s institutional structures on economic growth, and to provide access to Chinese and US researchers, as well as scholars from around the world.

To facilitate this work, the Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) is partnering with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tsignhua University in a collaborative research project – based in the Chinese University of Hong Kong – to explore the role of various institutions in China’s economic growth model. The resulting Data Initiative for the Chinese Economy, launched in October 2018, is leveraging a unique combination of Chinese commercial data to produce rigorous, world-class research. BFI will continue this groundbreaking research and engage in a targeted outreach communications and dissemination strategy around this work, utilizing The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong for its outreach.

Robust & Augmented Intelligence: Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Security & Human Life

PI: Michael Franklin

Artificial intelligence is poised to radically reorient nearly every research field and aspect of society from the medical treatment we receive to how we vote in elections. Augmented Intelligence is the view that humans can leverage these emerging technological changes to improve human life through advances in such fields as medicine, education, and technology. Simultaneously, as AI technology advances, new risks to human security will arise requiring new security systems, as well as robust and explainable AI. The University of Chicago’s rapidly expanding data science and computer science ecosystem and our strategic partnership with the Yuen Campus in Hong Kong will position us to deepen our partnerships with key Hong Kong research institutions, attract significant external funding, and define the emerging field of robust and augmented AI.

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China International Symposium

PI: Wu Hung

The Smart Museum of Art will hold a public lecture and roundtable discussion intended to highlight the intellectual and theoretical foundations of The Allure of Matter: Material Art in China, the Smart Museum of Art’s most ambitious exhibition to date. The Smart Museum’s presentation of The Allure of Matter will open February 7, 2020 and represents over six years of research by Professor and Curator Wu Hung. Through the lens of materiality, works by 27 contemporary artists from China, known for their uses of unconventional materials will be presented. Through the serious and enduring use of these materials, these artists have developed an individualized visual language. When taken together, this constitutes a major movement in contemporary Chinese art that has been identified for the first time in this exhibition.

The Smart will host an academic forum and public lecture at the Hong Kong Center to celebrate the rigorous academic and curatorial research that provided the foundation for this groundbreaking exhibition and introduce the exhibition for audiences in Hong Kong. The academic forum and public lecture will bring together the exhibition’s curators Wu Hung and Orianna
Cacchione in conversation with artists and a theorist.

Comparative Cantonese Acquisition: Ethnic Minorities, Recent Immigrants, and Local Chinese Families in Hong Kong

PI: Alan Yu

Hong Kong has seen a continuous increase in the number of local children born to ethnic minority families with South Asian heritage and Chinese families that migrated from the mainland. These children speak a minority language as their mother tongue and belong to a minority culture within a larger community. Learning Cantonese, the dominant language of Hong Kong, is a crucial step for them to integrate into a community of peers and acquire academic skills. Measures like language class and new curriculum have been available to help these populations to learn Cantonese. Yet, they only apply to older individuals. There is a complete absence of direct support allocated to younger children to learn Cantonese, although early years are the most crucial for language acquisition. This gap in policy planning may be due to a lack of knowledge regarding the language environment of these children, particularly with respect to Cantonese as one of their first languages. This study will work to fill the gap by examining the relationship between the language input received by these young children and the language the children are producing. Specifically, we will study the quantity and quality of the Cantonese used by the children towards their caregivers and the Cantonese input from those caregivers.

Language Contact and Change in the Greater Bay Area

PI: Ming Xiang

The linguistic landscape in China is highly diverse, even though standard Mandarin Chinese is the only official language in mainland China. Along the southern coastline of China, including the Greater Bay Area, a number of different languages are spoken in the local communities. Economic development in the Greater Bay area has led to tremendous changes in the social, cultural and political environments, all of which have profound implications for language diversity and change. Rapid urbanization of rural areas and increased mobility of workers created many multilingual communities, giving rise to a large number of communities with rich language mixing. Yet, large-scale, research-based knowledge about this phenomenon and its consequences for language development and learning, language vitality and attribution, as well as language use and change, is scarce. Traditional research on language diversity has
focused more on grammar description and documentation, drawing evidence from observational and introspective data; but the complexity of the issues calls for both theoretical and methodological innovation.

The current project integrates theoretical insights from formal linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology and sociolinguistics to study the language contact and shift situation in Guangzhou, China, with state-of-the-art experimental and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. The long-term goal of this research project is to construct both qualitative and quantitative models that account for how language shift takes place in complex social networks, as the result of the intensive interaction between culture, society and human psychology and cognition.

Novel Marine Research Organisms Forum

PI: Nipam Patel

The study of “model organisms” reveals the basic biological mechanisms underlying reproduction, healing, and behavior, often leading to new insights for human health and wellbeing. The wealth of biological diversity in aquatic environments serves as a rich frontier for discovery of new research models and their biology in ways that have not yet been observed in more traditional animal models such as mice and fruit flies. The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA strives to be a world leader in model organisms research by accelerating the discovery of new marine models. Since its founding over a century ago, the MBL has provided distinctive advantages for leading scientists from around the world, offering both laboratory space and a unique and unencumbered research environment through resident and visiting research scientist programs as well as advanced research training courses that draw hundreds of scientists to Woods Hole each year.

The MBL will host a forum in Hong Kong that will bring together a consortium of scientific leaders from the MBL, Bay Area, and other leading international institutions that will collectively tackle some of the most challenging, fascinating, and impactful questions about marine research organisms. Furthermore, the MBL will provide an infrastructure template for other institutions wishing to establish new research programs and facilities for marine research organism development. A major focus of the forum will be the establishment of centers for marine model discovery and research in both Woods Hole and the Bay Area.

Microbiome Medicine Workshop: Gateway to Innovation and Precision Care

PI: Eugene Chang

UChicago and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have started a new international research initiative aimed at promoting innovation, discovery, and technology in Microbiome Medicine for human health and disease. This program has been selected by the InnoHK program of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to develop Hong Kong as a hub for global research collaboration. “Microbiome medicine” is a field of study and future practice that leverages basic science discovery of human microbiomes for application to clinical care and management aimed at promoting health and well-being. Tangible goals we envision include optimizing childhood development, reducing disease risk and improving treatment outcomes, and preventing age-related decline of states of health.

The Impact of Language Use on Health Decisions

PI: Boaz Keysar

Cervical cancer causes the death of around 250,000 women each year, mainly due to human papillomavirus (HPV). Although early screening could prevent such deaths, in Hong Kong many women have never participated in cervical cancer screening due to barriers such as stigmatization and lack of understanding. Our goal is to investigate communication interventions to overcome such barriers to promote the health and wellbeing of women in Hong Kong.

HPV self-testing is an effective, low cost means of detecting HPV as first step in cervical cancer screening. We propose investigating how different methods of communicating health information about HPV and cervical cancer impact the uptake of HPV testing on self-collected samples. We will focus on Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong because they are less likely to undergo preventative health measures than their native born peers. We will take advantage of our recent discoveries in the psychology of communication and decision making in order to investigate how communicating information influences uptake. Specifically, we will rely on our discovery that people make less biased decisions in a foreign language than their native tongue, and that people perceive less risk when they hear than when they read information. We will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Hong Kong on a field study that will involve real health-related choices by Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong. The study will inform health care providers and policy makers about effective communication regarding HPV self-testing among migrant women, and about encouraging cancer screening more generally.

Development and Preliminary Evaluation of a Program of Peer Supporters for Guangzhou, China

PI: Zhiying Ma

This project seeks to develop and evaluate a peer support training, certification, and supervision program for persons with serious mental illnesses in Guangzhou, China. Peer support has been shown to be effective in raising mental health service users’ levels of hope, empowerment, and quality of life, and in improving peer supporters’ social skills and economic conditions. It is especially needed in mainland China, where mental health services are still pharmaceutically driven, symptom-focused, paternalistic, and institution-based.

We will use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to develop the peer support program (PSP). The PSP will be culturally responsive and power-sharing; integrative of global expertise; rights-based and oriented toward community inclusion; focused on peers’ personal growth and poverty alleviation; as well as systematic and evidence-based. This partnership will give local stakeholders adequate ownership of the program and ensure that it will be scaled up to other social service agencies in Guangzhou, the Greater Bay Area, and across China. This project will also systematically introduce peer support and CBPR to health and human services in China.