People Stories

Talent & Sector Development

Studying the atmosphere to improve the future of mankind

Sally Ng: “First, you have to find out what you are most passionate about, devote yourself to it wholeheartedly. Then you are already the most successful person, no matter what comes next.”

Pursuing her passion for chemistry, mathematics and environmental protection, Sally chose the Chemical and Environmental Engineering programme offered by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for her first degree. That was 20 years ago when the programme was still rather unfamiliar to the general public, so her parents and teachers were somewhat sceptical about her choice. Sally then wrote a letter to the chair of the department. The thoughtful and sincere reply she received encouraged her to keep following her passion and goals.

A Jockey Club Scholarship meant Sally had sufficient funds to pay the university fees, as well as more opportunities to explore the world. An exchange programme in the United States gave her the chance to attend one of the country’s top chemical engineering department in Minnesota. Her exposure there sowed the seeds for her future as an atmospheric scientist. “That was one of the best things to happen in my life,” she says.

Sally has always been fascinated by the study of suspended particles. “Suspended particles play an important role in climate change and air pollution which causes the death of millions of people every year,” she notes. Wanting to contribute to the world and inspire future generations, she decided to become a professor. “A professor is forever a teacher and student,” Sally observes. She much enjoyed her teaching life, interacting with her students while pursuing her interest in research. Today, many of her students have become university professors themselves in Hong Kong or overseas, continuing to nurture new talent.

In 2021, Sally was granted by the National Science Foundation in the US with the funding of US$12 million to be the principal investigator leading a cross-university team to establish the Atmospheric Science and Chemistry Measurement Network (ASCENT). Aiming to find long-term solutions to air pollution and global warming, the team set up instruments in 12 locations in the country to monitor changes in suspended particles round the clock. Today, Sally and her team continue to make influential contributions to the academic field and human welfare.

Did you know?

Established in 1998, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarships are one of the Club’s programmes to nurture local talent. To date, some HK$870 million in scholarships have been approved, supporting more than 1,000 students. Apart from undergraduate students, the scheme was expanded in 2015 to include students with special educational needs and those in vocational education. It also supports postgraduate students to pursue further studies at top notch universities in the world. The Club has extended the Scholarships to two further schemes in 2023 to support outstanding students with top scores in the public examinations and students who have achieved excellence while demonstrating resilience and strength of mind to overcome adversities in life to pursue their studies in Hong Kong. The Club also provides JC Scholars with opportunities for further learning, personal development and social service.

Information updated to Nov 2023