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Research Team

Dr. Olga Zayts
Project Coordinator

Olga Zayts-Spence is an Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong. She directs the Research and Impact Initiative on Communication in Healthcare (HKU RIICH). She is an interdisciplinary researcher who draws on her dual training in (socio)linguistics and public health. She has conducted extensive research in several medical and healthcare settings: genetic counselling, cancer clinics, end-of-life care. Her most recent projects explore the impact of COVID-19 on mental health of two vulnerable demographic groups in the workforce, such as working mothers and young adults (university graduates transitioning to the workforce). She collaborates closely with government and private healthcare institutions, NGOs, and business organizations in Hong Kong and internationally.

Professor Cecilia KY Chan
Co-Principal Investigator

Cecilia Chan is the Founding Director of the Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre (TALIC) and Professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). Cecilia has a dual discipline expertise in engineering and education; she has been playing a key role in enhancing engineering, and science education as well as teaching and learning in higher education. Her combined expertise in these fields and multi-cultural experience enabled her to lead and conduct research on topics such as assessment and feedback, experiential learning, technology-enhanced learning, and the development and assessment of 21st century skills spanning in education from East to West.

Dr. Zoe Fortune
Co-Principal Investigator

Zoë Fortune is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Dubai and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong. She leads the Mental Health Communication research cluster at HKU RIICH. A mixed methods researcher, she combines psychological research and evaluation methods with work to support practical implementation. She has worked across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East within charity, international development, forensic and healthcare settings with work aiming to improve healthcare and mental healthcare communication, delivery and outcomes. Her current research focuses on workplace mental health. She is interested in vulnerable populations in the workplace including students and graduates, working mothers and those who are dealing with mental health difficulties.

Dr. Christoph A. Hafner
Co-Principal Investigator

Christoph A. Hafner is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, City University of Hong Kong. He is the President of the Asia-Pacific LSP and Professional Communication Association and a past President of the Hong Kong Association for Applied Linguistics. His current research projects investigate digital multimodal pedagogies in language education contexts and the second language socialization processes of law students in Hong Kong. He has published widely in the areas of English for specific purposes, digital literacies, and language learning and technology. His books include: Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction (2nd edition) (Routledge, 2021, co-authored with Rodney Jones); and English in the Disciplines: A multidimensional model for ESP course design (Routledge, 2019, co-authored with Lindsay Miller).

Ms. Jaime Fung
Ms. FUNG, Jaime
Co-Principal Investigator

Jaime Fung was the Director of Careers and Placement of CEDARS (Centre of Development and Resources for Students) of The University of Hong Kong (HKU). She has been leading the team in offering and delivering elite career support services and training programs to HKU students and graduates in attaining promising employability and workplace effectiveness. Prior to HKU, she had assumed senior Human Resources, organization development and consulting roles in different sectors, accumulating 30 years’ of commercial and education experiences, coaching and facilitating adults and students in developing satisfying career journeys. She obtained her Master's in Social Sciences in Behaviorial Health and Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology from HKU.

Dr. Sylvia Jaworska
Co-Principal Investigator

Sylvia Jaworska is a Professor of Language and Professional Communication at the University of Reading. Her main research interest is in discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. Her research is interdisciplinary, cross-linguistic and cross-cultural. She combines corpus and computational tools with discourse-analytical techniques to study language use and linguistic practices in professional contexts including (new) media, business and health communication. She is a co-author of Language and Media (Routledge, 2020).

Dr. Rodney Jones
Co-Principal Investigator

Rodney Jones is a Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Reading. His research interests include discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, and language and digital media. He has contributed research in areas of health communication, digital literacies, and language and creativity. He has authored or edited 15 books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. His books include Health and Risk Communication: An Applied Linguistic Perspective (Routledge, 2013), Spoken Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2016), Understanding Digital Literacies: A practical introduction, 2nd edition (Routledge, 2021) and The Routledge Handbook of Language and Creativity (2015). He has recently edited Viral Discourse, a collection about the language of COVID-19, with Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Carmen Lee
Co-Principal Investigator

Carmen Lee is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is also Associate Editor of the journal Discourse, Context & Media, and co-editor of the Routledge Language and Digital Media book series. Her research on digital discourse has been concerned with the relationship between people’s online practices and their everyday lived experiences, and the impact of digital discourse on social practices. Her major publications include Language Online (2013, Routledge), Multilingualism Online (2017, Routledge), and Researching Language and Social Media (2022, Routledge). Recently, she has been researching aggressive discourses such as hate speech and doxxing online.

Dr. Pauline Luk
Co-Principal Investigator

Pauline Luk is a multidisciplinary scholar with a diverse research background in communication, medical education, and social change. She received her PhD from the National University of Singapore. Her principal research interests are medical education (professionalism, online learning, collaborative learning, and mental wellness) and health communication (alternative medicines, health information seeking, and health policy). She had worked on a variety of social justice-oriented health communication campaigns in Singapore. She taught at a university in Hong Kong and at NUS where she gained experience in teaching communication, public relations, and marketing. 

Dr. Paul Wong
Co-Principal Investigator

Paul Wong is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at The University of Hong Kong. He has been involved in suicide prevention research and mental health promotion and practice since 2003. His recent research projects include youth social withdrawal behaviour, using animals as part of educational and psychological interventions, youth positive development of local and non-Chinese young people, and family caregiving for people with psychological issues. His main research theme aims to promote social inclusion in our society and has published about 90 academic articles and book chapters.

Dr. David Edmonds
Post-Doctoral Fellow

David Matthew Edmonds is currently a post-doctoral fellow with HKU RIICH. His primary research interest centers on utilizing sociolinguistic methods to understand healthcare communication in different contexts. His current research project involves investigating the mental health experiences of people working in end-of-life care settings. In addition, he also conducts research on gender in interaction and science and technology studies (STS). 

Dr. POWELL, Candice

Dr. Candice Powell is the Chief Executive Officer Mind HK which aims to raise awareness and provide support for mental health in Hong Kong. She has nearly 15 years of experience in clinical psychology, specializing in transdiagnostic therapy, low-intensity psychological intervention, mindful parenting, and internet therapy. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist in the Accredited Register of the Hong Kong Government and fellow of The Hong Kong Psychological Society. In addition to her leadership role at Mind HK, she is an active contributor to the academic and research community. Dr. Powell is an Honorary Lecturer at The University of Hong Kong and collaborates on multiple research projects with local and international institutes. Her mission is to advance the field of mental health by applying and disseminating evidence-based interventions and mindfulness practices in the Hong Kong context.

Ms. Odile Thiang

Odile Thiang is a Paediatric Nurse Practitioner, having completed her undergraduate and graduate education at The University of Toronto, and coming to Hong Kong with 8 years of clinical experience at Sick Kids Hospital, in Toronto. In Hong Kong, Odile has focused on mental health and education. At Mind HK Odile is a clinical advisor focusing on youth mental health and anti-stigma. Odile is also a teaching fellow at the HK PolyU, School of Nursing, and an Honorary Nurse Consultant at the HK Children’s Hospital. Her commitment to serving marginalised communities led her to work on the improvement of mental health care, as well as working with vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth. 

Mr. Angus Chan
Research Assistant

Angus Chan manages the administrative functions of the CRF project, and provides research support to project team members. He is alson concurrently a Teaching Assistant in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong, where he contributes to the delivery of English Language and Linguistics and Language and Communication courses.  He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in English Studies at the University of Hong Kong. From 2021 to 2022, he held a Visiting Studentship at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, where he studied English Language and Literature. Angus’ teaching and research interests centre broadly on sociolinguistics, with particular foci in historical sociolinguistics, variationist sociolinguistics and World Englishes (specifically in Asian contexts). Other areas of interest include discourse analysis and pragmatics. 

Ms. Afina Nafisa Jasmine
Ms. Afina-Nafisah-Jasmine
Research Assistant

Jasmine graduated from HKU in 2023 as part of the inaugural cohort of the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and English Studies. Throughout her undergraduate education, she was interested in interdisciplinary research and focused her final year project on representations of ethnic minorities (EM) in Hong Kong. She is an active advocate for better opportunities for EMs and works to amplify already existing marginalised voices. Jasmine holds a strong interest in contemporary literary and arts cultures and is an avid reader and writer in her spare time. She has previously worked for NGOs and literary festivals. Her academic interests focus on the inclusion of marginalised narratives.

Ms. Apple Kwok
Ms. KWOK, Apple
Research Assistant

Apple Kwok is a BA graduate from The University of Hong Kong. Having majored and minored in Language and Communications and History, respectively, Apple's interests centre around sociolinguistics, visual communication, and history. She is enthusiastic about researching COVID-19's impact on students' university experience and their transition to the workforce. Prior to working at HKU, Apple was an assistant instructor in the education industry, where she gained valuable insights into how information is consumed. This experience has enabled her to curate and present complex topics to diverse audiences effectively.

Ms. Michelle Blit
Student Intern

Michelle Blit is a Student Intern at the Research and Impact Initiative on Communication in Healthcare at the University of Hong Kong (HKU RIICH). She currently reads Psychology at the University of Nottingham. Prior to pursuing her undergraduate studies, she spent 8 years living in Hong Kong. She is extremely interested in conducting research regarding mental health, especially for students. She has a fond interest in video editing and has been involved in live-editing multi-camera music performances and shows at BISHK. She also enjoys learning new languages and exploring different cultures. Michelle is very excited to contribute to the CRF project and to gain first hand experience working in a research team. 

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