8 XMUM Faculty Members Receive 2020 MOHE Research Fund


Eight faculty members from Xiamen University Malaysia (XMUM) received Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) 2020 awarded by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) Malaysia, with a total allocated amount of RM 833,366.

The recipients are from School of Economics & Management, School of Energy & Chemical Engineering, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Mathematics.

This is the third batch of successful FRGS applications by XMUM, continuing a year-on-year increase of the designated funding amount. Two and three faculty members from XMUM received the Fund in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

FRGS encourages fundamental researches in areas supporting Malaysia’s strategic agenda - including Pure and Applied Sciences, Technology and Engineering, Clinical and Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Applied Art, Natural and Cultural Heritage, Information and Communication Technology - which can produce theories, concepts, and ideas for the advancement of knowledge that would contribute to the enhancement of intellectual level and the creation of new technologies.   

Detailed information of the recipients and their research projects are listed below.

School of Economics & Management

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ken Szulczyk

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ken Szulczyk proposes a research project on using algae to produce biodiesel and animal feed. The emissions from electric power plants are fed into algae ponds, where the algae breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. A biorefinery manufactures algae either into biodiesel or animal feed. Consequently, the algae mitigate carbon emissions by reducing the amount of diesel fuel used in the transportation sector and recycling the emissions from electric power plants. The algal biodiesel decreases the need for palm oil used in palm biodiesel, which Malaysia can export. Furthermore, algal animal feed reduces feed imports. Algal biodiesel improves energy security, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps Malaysia meets its commitment in the 2016 Paris Agreement. Algal animal feed offsets feed imports, enhances food security, and boosts self-sufficiency since Malaysia imports most of its animal feed.

Dr. Szulczyk received his PhD Degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University in 2007. After completing his degree, he taught at universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and the United States. Dr Szulczyk started teaching at Xiamen University Malaysia in September 2019. This is Dr Szulczyk’s third FRGS grant, and he has published articles in behavioral finance and renewable energy, such as Sustainable and Renewable Energy Reviews, Journal of Cleaner Production, Empirical Economics, and Applied Economics. Dr Szulczyk’s research was featured in several publications, such as the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Wirtschaftswoche (a German Magazine), and Morningstar.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Tan Yeng May

Assist. Prof. Dr. Tan Yeng May's research proposal revolves around an age-old but pertinent issue – can investors make money while bringing about positive changes at the same time? Malaysia launched its Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) index FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia Index in December 2014. This shows the initiative and determination of the Malaysian government in promoting a more sustainable economy. Central to the impact investment is the integration of the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects into the investment process. However, it is still debatable whether impact investing can translate into better financial metrics for investors. This research aspires to employ AI techniques to develop frameworks to address the issue of integrating ESG factors into investment portfolio management. The research outcome will be to construct a new ESG-incorporate measure that balances financial returns with environmental and social impacts. It may be used to substantiate the inclusion of ESG disclosure for public listed firms in Malaysia.

Dr. Tan received her Ph.D. Degree in Finance from University Putra Malaysia. Her earlier years of studies include an MBA degree (Finance) and a BSc. degree (Finance) from the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. Dr. Tan joined Xiamen University Malaysia in July 2016. Prior to this, she held various academic positions at universities in Malaysia. Her current research interests include China and emerging stock market studies, behavioral finance, ESG investing, and Fintech. Dr. Tan is also serving in the External Affairs Committee of the faculty, which she believes is an ideal way to apply theory to practice.

School of Energy & Chemical Engineering

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ong Wee Jun

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ong Wee Jun proposes a research on the development of tunable defective two-dimensional (2D) graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) nanomaterials for selective photocatalytic carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction reaction (CO2RR) by exploiting the inexhaustible solar energy source. As the CO2 concentration increases to 412 ppm in November 2020, it is vital to seek alternative clean and renewable fuels to combat the global and national issues. Therefore, in this project, artificial photochemical CO2RR into energy fuels, which is inspired by the biological pathway in natural photosynthesis, serves as a predominant solution to the contemporary global warming and rising energy demand. It is anticipated that the findings from this research will pave a new inroad and provide guidance for the use of nano-driven technology to drive the CO2RR. To align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – “SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy”, this proof-of-concept study will further enhance our understanding of the relationship between fundamental properties and catalytic activity at a molecular level.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ong Wee Jun received his B.Eng. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Monash University. From 2016 to 2018, he was a staff scientist at Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. In 2018, he joined XMUM as a faculty member and currently, he is an Associate Professor in School of Energy and Chemical Engineering. In 2019, he was a Visiting Scientist in the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. He is a Visiting Professor at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, from 2019 to 2020. Under his “NanoECats” group, his research direction includes smart design of nanomaterials for photo- and electrochemical H2O splitting, CO2 reduction and N2 fixation, as well as energy storage. He has won several prestigious awards, including the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, Young Researcher Awards from IChemE and the Green Talent Award from the German government. In 2019, he was named as a “Global Highly Cited Researcher” by Clarivate Analytics. To date, he has authored over 70 international journal papers, which includes top-tier journals like Chemical Reviews, Chem and Angewandte Chemie, with a citation count of over 8700 and an H-index of 40. Currently, he serves as the Chief Editor, Associate Editor, Guest Editor, and Board Member of Frontiers in Nanotechnology, Frontiers in Chemistry, Materials Horizons, Chinese Journal of Catalysis, Langmuir and Scientific Reports.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Chong Woon Gie

Assist. Prof. Dr. Chong Woon Gie proposes a research on developing a novel electrolyte for graphite dual ion battery. The objective of this work is to investigate the mechanistic behaviour and interfacial stability of the novel electrolyte with graphite over a wide temperature range using electrochemical and computation techniques. The motivation of the work is to introduce a graphite dual-ion battery (GDIB) which is (i) a cost-effective battery system consisting of only carbon-based electrodes (ii) high thermal stability (iii) high energy density to alleviate the issue of power intermittency of solar power storage system which is stable even at elevated temperature in tropical climates. 

Dr. Chong received her PhD Degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2018. She was the recipient of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship awarded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. With an Overseas Research Award support from the HKUST, she took the opportunity to spend 6 months in Zhejiang University in China as part her PhD training in 2016. After the completion of her degree, she joined School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, XMUM as an Assistant Professor in April 2019. Her research focuses on advanced materials and novel battery structures for energy storage applications. She has authored over 20 international journal and conference papers, which includes top-tier journals like Advanced Functional Materials, Advanced Energy Materials and Energy Storage Materials with a citation count of over 738 and a h-index of 15.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Vincent Woon Kok Sin 

Assist. Prof. Dr. Vincent Woon Kok Sin proposes research on developing a simple and deterministic artificial neural network and life cycle eco-efficiency model to overcome the shortcomings of data obsolescence and use of less representative surrogate data in municipal solid waste (MSW) sector. These shortcomings always hamper policymakers’ ability to conduct a locally specific study and provide accurate results. Through fundamental theories of big data mining, artificial intelligence, and life cycle eco-efficiency, the model will forecast MSW data pattern behaviour and characterize data uncertainty scientifically, thus enhancing results reliability of MSW management evaluation. It is expected that this research will create a more sustainable circularity waste strategy, resource-efficient, and greener economy in Malaysia.

Dr. Vincent Woon received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2015. He has 10-year academic and industry experiences in environmental management and green city planning. His research interests include carbon footprint analysis, life cycle assessment and life cycle costing of a product or process, recycling of resources from solid waste, green township and building development, and energy optimization. He was invited by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to represent Malaysia to provide a speech at Malaysia Pavilion during the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech in 2016. He joined XMUM as an assistant professor in 2019.

Dr. Tan Jian Ping

Lecturer Dr. Tan Jian Ping proposes research on manipulation of central metabolic fluxes of biocatalyst towards high productivity of succinic acid from durian waste. Although durian industry is still in its infancy stage, it possesses enormous potential due to the spiking demand from China. Since the edible portion of the fruit only accounts for 15-30% of the entire weight of the fruit, there is considerable amount of durian waste produced. This research aims to establish a high yield conversion of durian waste into high value-added succinic acid. It involves the hydrolysis of durian biomass waste for sugar recovery before being converted into fine chemical succinic acid.

Dr. Tan was awarded scientific researcher with real industrial R&D experience, high impact scientific publications and inventor for patents. He graduated from National University of Malaysia (UKM) for degree in 2013 and PhD in 2017. Dr. Tan also co-researched several multi-million projects from industry and MOHE.

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Assist. Prof. Dr. Mohammad Arif Sobhan Bhuiyan

Assist. Prof. Dr. Mohammad Arif Sobhan Bhuiyan proposes a research on transistor structural analysis for Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Based transceivers for remote infectious disease monitoring system for the critical patients (especially those who need isolation or quarantine like corona infected patient) who need continuous remote monitoring of their health parameters to ensure proper diagnosis and medication. But existing monitoring stations with wired sensors need continuous monitoring of doctors or nurses and are not convenient at all for infected patients. The emerging technologies like IoT and cloud computing can be integrated to develop a real-time healthcare monitoring system with several wireless sensors. These sensors will exchange data to the cloud using reliable and high-performance radio frequency (RF) communication transceivers. The existing transceivers are needed to be customized to be fitted in an automatic health monitoring system. In RF transceiver circuits, on-chip passive components like resistor, capacitor, inductor etc. results in bulky and power hungry circuitries which are usually replaced with active components like transistors. Therefore, the transistor structure plays a vital role to determine the performance, size and power dissipation of the wireless transceiver. In this research, an efficient and proper transistor structures will be identified through equivalent circuit analysis of the delay cells and to validate the model, a three-stage divide-by-2 frequency divider circuit will be used for 2.4 GHz phase Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor (CMOS). Upon completion of this study, the transistor structure analysis will be utilized in all other modules of the transceiver which will allow the researchers to build power efficient and accurate remote health care monitoring system. 

Dr. Mohammad Arif Sobhan Bhuiyan is from Chittagong, Bangladesh. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Applied Physics, Electronics and Communication Engineering from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 2006 and 2007, respectively. He received his PhD from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia in 2017. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Xiamen University Malaysia. His current research interest is in the field of Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) and Wireless Communication. He has over 10 years of active teaching and research experience and authored over 70 indexed international journal and conference articles with a citation count of over 450 and an h-index of 12.


Department of Mathematics

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Peter Zeiner

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Peter Zeiner proposes a research project on understanding the interplay of various properties of quasicrystals. The latter are a new type of material that is highly ordered but lacks the periodicity properties of ordinary crystals. As such, they show some similarities to ordinary crystals but differ in some other aspects. One way to find out the structure of a material is to perform diffraction experiments, for instance using X-rays, electrons, neutrons. These diffraction patterns reveal the amount of order of a structure, with sharp peaks corresponding to high order and diffuse scattering corresponding to some kind of disorder. On the other hand, the energy spectrum determines the electronic properties of the material and allows one to infer such properties as electric conductance, heat conductance and optical properties among many others. The present project shall investigate the relationship between the diffraction pattern and the energy spectrum for certain aperiodic systems. The aim is to get rigorous mathematical results that improve the present heuristic understanding.

Dr. Zeiner studied physics at Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), Austria, where he graduated in 1994. After he had received his PhD in theoretical physics from TU Vienna he worked as post-doc at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands). In 2005, he joined the Department of Mathematics at Bielefeld University (Germany), where he got his habilitation in mathematics in 2015. Since 2018, Dr. Peter Zeiner is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at XMUM. His research interests include mathematical physics, mathematical crystallography and number theory.

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