MU Connect issue 4 (page 22 to 23)

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Young female scientist
delves into 6G network technology

With a sincere and profound fascination with network technology, Dr Fu Yaru obtained her PhD in Electronic Engineering in 2018. Since joining HKMU as an Assistant Professor in 2020, she has so far bagged the University's Katie Shu Sui Pui Charitable Trust — Outstanding Research Publication Award twice, and was listed among the world's top 2% of the most-cited scientists by Stanford University. As a young female researcher, Dr Fu has hopes and aspirations for innovation and technology.

Smart wireless communication technology

Dr Fu's teaching areas and research interests lie in Intelligent Communications and Networking, Machine Learning, Edge Caching and Edge Computing. Currently focusing on the development of smart wireless communication technology, she has just started two projects, both of which bear on Edge Intelligence. 'We're doing research on integrating networking, storage and computing, hoping to solve the problems of 6G mobile communication technology, including network congestion caused by huge data traffic, as well as to enhance computing power,' she explains.


The University has also been actively promoting applied research in recent years. This not only supports Dr Fu's research financially but also broadens her research horizons, helping the young scientist shift her research focus to practical application and explore new directions for her research expedition. 'The University encourages applied research,' Dr Fu continues, 'and this has created an atmosphere which allows me to explore research directions from new perspectives, shifting to practical application and including artificial intelligence calculations in the research.'


Although summed up in just a few words, the course of exploration is indeed a  sophisticated process. Dr Fu admits that it has been a bumpy journey, but she still relishes and appreciates it. 'When you find a problem that needs to be solved and you can come up with ways to improve it, that is the greatest joy of doing research.'

When you find a problem that needs to be solved, and you can come up with ways to improve it, that is the greatest joy of doing research.

Dr Fu Yaru
School of Science and Technology

Applied research

Dr Fu once participated in scientific research work in France and Singapore, and the experience greatly inspired her. 'The training in data processing and analytical skills, in particular, helped me lay a solid foundation.' The research environment in France integrates the efforts of both universities and industries, placing emphasis on developing technical application projects. Dr Fu believes that this benefits teachers and students by helping them get their bearings and establish their research directions. She herself will also go down this same path, focusing on applied research.

As the University expands its research profile into various new and practical fields, it is important that its best research initiatives have the opportunity to be applied for good social and economic outcomes. While the team led by Dr Fu is still mainly engaged in theoretical research at present, it also seeks to collaborate with the business sector at the same time. 'At this stage, I am more concerned about applying theory to practical systems, and putting research results on the market for commercial applications. I will spend more time and effort seeking opportunities for collaboration.'

Dr Fu Yaru
School of Science and Technology

Among the top scientists in the world

Adopting a new direction has led to earlier achievements for Dr Fu in the research field, helping her become one of the top scientists in the world. She says in an excited yet humble manner, 'I was very surprised. After all, I'm still young, and I'm very glad that the research I did was discussed and cited. This propels me to branch out and work harder in scientific research.' She is also keen to contribute to a number of academic journals as editor and reviewer, and was awarded the 2022 Best Editor Award of IEEE Wireless Communications Letters.

Nurturing new blood

Dr Fu is currently the Head of the Centre for Research in Advanced Network Technologies under the University's Institute for Research in Innovative Technology and Sustainability (IRITS). In order to enhance the research atmosphere, she is working assiduously on two aspects. The first is to cultivate colleagues’ interest and widen their horizons in scientific research by, for instance, regularly inviting industry experts to give lectures and introduce cutting-edge research projects. The second is to expand the pool of postgraduate students in order to attract young people with research ability to join the team to back research development.

'Now that I have my own research team, I'm gradually shifting to nurturing doctoral students,' she expounds. 'If a university lacks trained researchers, talent shortage will make research development very difficult.' Yet there is still a long way to go. Upcoming priorities include recruiting more young postgraduate students and streamlining management processes to improve efficiency.

Gender gaps in the science field

Male researchers vastly outnumber female ones in most STEM fields, and this is true around the globe. As a young female scientist, Dr Fu first responds with a resigned smile and then earnestly says, 'This is a key topic, and it deserves to be addressed squarely.' She has never been discriminated against or treated with prejudice on her journey of scientific research. Yet she reckons that the conception and design of products will often be limited to male perspectives if the majority of industry practitioners are male, and the output would inevitably be skewed. Dr Fu quoted seat belts as an example: women will be more likely to get injured in a traffic accident if the seat belt's design does not fit the female body shape. 'That's not woman-friendly,' she says. 'It has to do with social conventions as well as women's self-awareness and inherent thinking. For instance, many women leave the workforce and return to their families at a certain stage of life.' She considers it a very complicated issue, and solving the problem would require collaborative efforts from society and even legislative support.

Opportunities are out there

Compared to surrounding areas, Hong Kong is a late starter in innovation and technology research where software and hardware development as well as talent training are lagging behind. Dr Fu agrees that the Government has drawn up a clearer blueprint in recent years. 'Introducing policies to attract talent and promoting collaboration with the Greater Bay Area will help develop Hong Kong as an international innovation and technology centre,' she comments. 'Our international influence will be greatly augmented if it can be achieved.' Dr Fu is optimistic about the city's future scientific development and as a doctoral supervisor, she assures students with sincerity: 'Young people will have many opportunities.'