Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Senior Advisor to the President
Chair Professor of Guangzhou Fok Ying Tung Research Institute
Departmental Research Area
Environmental Engineering: Environmental Hydraulics & Water Resources
Individual Research Interest
Environmental hydraulics/fluid mechanics; water quality modelling; flood control; environmental management; science and technology policy
Prof. Lee grew up and attended high school in Hong Kong. In 1969 he went to USA on a scholarship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he obtained his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering (1969-1977). For his postgraduate studies he conducted research in environmental hydromechanics under the supervision of Professor Donald R. F. Harleman and Professor Gerhard H. Jirka. After three years of teaching as Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware he joined University of Hong Kong (HKU) as a Lecturer in 1980, where he rose through the ranks (Senior Lecturer: 1987-1991; Reader: 1992-1994) to Redmond Chair Professor of Civil Engineering in 1995. At HKU, he was Dean of Engineering from 2000 to 2003, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Staffing) from 2004-2010. He took office as Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in November 2010 and served in that capacity for six years. He was Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (2010-2018) and Elman Family Professor of Engineering and Public Policy (2017-18). He is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair Professor of the Guangzhou Fok Ying Tung Research Institute of HKUST.
During his academic career in Hong Kong he held various visiting appointments: as a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellow at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London (1985-86), Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Institute of Hydromechanics at the University of Karlsruhe (1992-93), and Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (1998).
Prof. Lee's research revolves around the use of hydraulics to solve environmental problems, in particular the prediction and control of water quality. Awards and honours he received include the Senior Research Fellowship Award of the Croucher Foundation (1998), Innovation Award for Construction Industry of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (2002), Best paper award of the 14th IAHR APD Conference (2004), the 2010 China State Scientific and Technological Progress Award (Second Class, Principal Investigator), the 2013 Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Prize of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the 2017 Innovation Award (First Prize, Sustainability) of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council. He is also the first Asia-based academic to receive the ASCE Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award (2009). He was elected into the Royal Academy of Engineering, United Kingdom in 2008, and was bestowed Honorary Membership by the International Association for Hydro-environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) in 2015. He is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences, the American Society of Civil Engineers and Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. He is an Honorary Professor of Nankai University and Advisory Professor of Hohai University.
Prof. Lee has served on numerous national and international committees. He was Chairman of the IAHR fluid mechanics section (1996-2002), Chairman of the IAHR Asia and Pacific Division (APD) (2003-2007), and IAHR Vice-President (2007-2011). He organized the First International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics (ISEH) in Hong Kong in 1991, which became a flagship triennial conference series hosted by IAHR. In 2007 as founding Chief Editor he led the launch of the Elsevier Journal of Hydro-environment Research (JHER) – which gained SCI journal status within 3 years. He is also Associate Editor of Environmental Fluid Mechanics (2011-), Journal of Hydraulic Engineering (1997-) and China Ocean engineering (2007-). Past editorship memberships include Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Ecological Informatics and Korea Journal of Civil Engineering. He served on the International Advisory Board of the Glasgow Research Partnership in Engineering, Scottish Funding Council (2007-2012), the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Singapore (2011-2014), and the Tokyo Institute of Technology (2016-2018). He is a member of the Selection Committee of the International Climate Protection Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2009-2018) and the Science and Technology Committee of the Chinese Ministry of Education.
As the Principal Investigator of a Research Grant Council (RGC) collaborative group project on the Dynamics of Algal Blooms and Red Tides (2000-2004), and Co-PI of the Hong Kong Area of Excellence (AoE) in Marine Environment Research and Innovative Technology (MERIT; 2006-2011), he has pioneered inter-disciplinary research that led to a new understanding of the role of physical-biological interactions in the occurrence of algal blooms in sub-tropical coastal waters. He is the mastermind behind the development of the WATERMAN coastal water quality forecasting and management system funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (2009-2013), and a Co-PI on a RGC theme-based research project on Smart Urban Water Supply Systems (2016-2020). He is also the PI of a project on developing a red tide early warning system using real time phytoplankton data (2018-2021). He has served as expert consultant on numerous hydro-environmental projects and contributed to several major environmental management and flood control infrastructure in Hong Kong – including the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS), Tai Hang Tung Storage Scheme, Yuen Long Bypass Floodway, the Hong Kong Island West Storm Water Drainage Tunnel, and new practices of sustainable fisheries management.
Prof. Lee is the Chairman of the Assessment Panel of the Hong Kong Public Policy Research Scheme and a member of the Aviation Development and Three-runway System Advisory Committee of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He has previously served on the Steering Committee for Research Themes under the Research Endowment Fund of the Hong Kong Education Bureau (2009-2017), Land and Development Advisory Committee (2009-2015), Advisory Council on the Environment (2009-2012), and the Construction Industry Council (2010-2012). He has notably been appointed as independent expert in several high profile investigations that include the Environmental Impact Assessment Appeal for the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) Sheung Shui – Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (“Long Valley”) project (2000-2001), the Tai Po Sha Po Tsai Village Debris Flood (2010), and the Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water (2015).