Yuen Research Funding

We are pleased to announce a new call for proposals for collaborative research and academic forums to be conducted at the Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The Francis and Rose Yuen University of Chicago Campus in Hong Kong or in the Greater Bay Area.

Faculty at UChicago have long striven to address the most important global challenges through research and scholarship. In recent years, Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area have emerged as important players in addressing these global challenges. This is largely due to Hong Kong’s historical role as a service center and financial hub in Asia and its geographic connectivity to the dynamic industrial and technological engine of southern China. These characteristics converge to place the Greater Bay Area at the nexus of rapid technological and sociological change.

As an eminent research institution, the University of Chicago has a unique opportunity to leverage its new regional base in Hong Kong and direct its collective expertise toward researching trends and phenomena precipitated by this great change. By partnering with local institutions, the University can simultaneously work to enrich lives and explore new avenues for academic excellence.

Yuen Research Grants

The Yuen Research Grants will directly fund research around themes most relevant to Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (see list below). Proposals must involve collaborative work in the Greater Bay Area with a local partner institution which works to describe the region and the current trends playing out there, although we welcome research producing widely applicable insights. Preference will be given to work whose preliminary findings will become available within 18 months.

Yuen Research Academic Forums

Yuen Research Academic Forums will provide faculty the opportunity to engage with local collaborators via academic conferences and workshops. These events should represent more advanced research initiatives based around themes most relevant to Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (see list below). Cost sharing with local partners and collaborating institutions is required. Conference proposals should include discussion of the potential for future collaboration.

Both Yuen Research Grants and Yuen Research Academic Forums should be based around the 8 key themes identified as most important to the Greater Bay Area:

  • Early Childhood
  • Aging
  • Innovation
  • Business and Economics
  • Cities and Environment
  • Health and Healthcare
  • Data Science
  • Culture and the Arts

Please follow the submission instructions as indicated on the UChicago Funding Portal (http://fundingopportunities.uchicago.edu). Budget templates will also be provided as part of the submission process through the portal.  Each proposal should include: names and affiliations of main organizers/participants (from the University and other institutions); discussion of aims, significance, and rationale; expected timeline; and preliminary budget.

Our current resources may require us to offer less than what is asked for in some proposals, and allow us to consider awarding upwards of USD $100,000 as our contribution to any one project. We welcome proposals requesting any amount up to that maximum and for every proposal we urge applicants to seek appropriate sources of additional funding.  Faculty will be asked to include additional funding sources in the application.

Proposals must be sponsored by at least one person holding a current academic appointment at the University of Chicago, although collaborative cross-institutional teams are encouraged. Current members of the review committee are eligible to apply, provided that they recuse themselves during the review and voting on their proposal.

Proposals focusing on student activities must be submitted by faculty members directly supervising the students, and awards cannot support graduate student research that is coextensive with ongoing doctoral dissertation work.

Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis through 2019 for projects up to 24 months, although those which can begin activities in Summer and Fall 2019 will receive priority consideration.

Proposals and budgets will be reviewed on a rolling basis by a faculty committee using the following criteria:

  • originality and intellectual significance
  • collaborative research, including appropriate support from partners in the region, and with the potential to lead to ongoing collaboration
  • well-designed research, likely to succeed in reaching its goals
  • reasonable and well-justified budgets
  • beneficial outcomes for both the University of Chicago community and the community in the Greater Bay Area

UChicago Global will administer the application and review process and provide guidance as needed. The campus in Hong Kong will provide assistance in planning and managing the logistics for selected projects, including communications and access to campus facilities. Funded projects must submit a mid-point progress report, a final report assessing the projects’ success and impact upon completion and a final financial report. Reporting must be received at the end of the quarter in which the project was completed.

For information about past and upcoming activities at the University of Chicago’s campus in Hong Kong, please visit https://www.uchicago.hk. Faculty and researchers receiving this invitation are encouraged to distribute this call for proposals to other members of the University community. If you require any additional guidance, please reach out to Kate Moore, Senior Associate Director for Global Initiatives and Strategy, at katemoore@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.