HKUST Environmental Engineering Professor Becomes the First Hong Kong Scholar Elected as an Academician of European Academy of Sciences and Arts

Professor Irene Lo of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has been elected as an Academician (Technical and Environmental Sciences) of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA). She is the first Hong Kong scholar inducted into the EASA.

Based in Salzburg, Austria, the EASA is an interdisciplinary network of scholars from various fields focusing on scientific, social, cultural and ethical issues. The Academy’s seven branches include humanities, medicine, arts, natural sciences, social sciences/law and economics, technical and environmental sciences, and world religions. As of today, it has more than 1,500 members, including 29 Nobel Laureates.

“It is a great honor to be elected as a member of the EASA and be the first Hong Kong scholar among 1,500 members. The professional recognition from this distinguished body undoubtedly is a highlight of my career achievement and gives a strong evidence of my research contribution to the society. Being an academician, I will have more opportunities to collaborate with other members of the EASA to tackle key scientific environmental issues across disciplinary and national borders,” Prof Lo said.

Prof Lo has been devoted to environmental research related to soil, sediment and water pollution control through the application of physical, chemical and biological treatment processes for more than two decades. Recently, she has led a consultation project on the remediation of the river sediment in collaboration with the Guangdong government. The river sediments at certain locations were contaminated by various levels of organic pollutants and toxic heavy metals. The presence of organics in sediment resulted in an unpleasant smell in the entire river. After investigation, Prof Lo has proposed several alternatives for the remediation of this kind of river contamination.

In 2000, Prof Lo partnered with The Danish Environmental Protection Agency and successfully cleaned up the chlorinated hydrocarbon contaminated groundwater in Vapokon site, Denmark. In 2006, she extended her permeable reactive barrier research study to tackle groundwater pollution by toxic anionic pollutions such as chromium and arsenic. This research has led to many publications in prestigious journals including ES&T and Water Research.

Prof Lo obtained her MS and PhD degrees in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was elected Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers in 2009 and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2010. Prof Lo has been teaching in HKUST since 1992 and has garnered numerous research and teaching awards. She received the ASCE James Croes Medal (2004), the ASCE Samuel Arnold Greeley Award (2007), the ASCE Wesley W Horner Award (2009), and the ASCE EWRI Best Practice-Oriented Paper Award (2012). In 2006, she received HKUST’s highest accolade in teaching, the Michael G Gale Medal for Distinguished Teaching.

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