Anita Conti Sustainable Innovation Fellowship Program 2023 Awardee


Ms. YAN Feier (PhD in Marine Environmental Science, supervised by Prof. Julian Mak), has earned a place in Anita Conti Sustainable Innovation Fellowship Program 2023.

The Anita Conti Sustainable Innovation Fellowship allows current research assistants, post-doctorates or doctoral students residing in Hong Kong and Macau from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) to spend three months conducting research related to sustainability in a laboratory in France. This mobility grant is funded by the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau to promote innovation for a sustainable future in the framework of the HKUST-France Memorandum of Understanding.

The award winning research project description:
Machine learning as applied to oceanography and climate problems
• embed neural networks in low-cost, low-resolution models, to generate more realistic ocean circulations
• combine neural networks and physical law to improve the performance of parameterized models

Miss YAN Feier will be spending September to December 2023 as a visitor at the MEOM group at IGE Grenoble, working on machine learning related research.

Congratulations to Miss YAN Feier!

More about Anita Conti
The Anita Conti Sustainable Innovation Fellowship pays tributes to Anita Conti’s scientific contribution and her commitment to the protection of the oceans, for which she has dedicated her life. Anita Conti (1899-1997), also known as « la Dame de la Mer » (« the Lady of the Sea ») was the first French woman oceanographer and a pioneer in marine ecology.

Between the two world wars, she began to draw up the first fishing maps, when only navigational maps were available. Her scientific work helped rationalise deep-sea fishing practices. In 1939, this scientist embarked for the Arctic regions for a period of three months above the 75th parallel to map fishing areas, a great first when only navigational charts were available. From the 1940s onwards, she became concerned about the effects of industrial fishing on fish stocks and shew drew very alarming conclusions about the overexploitation of the oceans. Giving rise to an awareness of environmental problems, she showed that the sea is not an inexhaustible resource.

Continuing her studies, she became even more involved in the fight against malnutrition, the preservation of fish stocks and the development of fishing in harmony with the sea. Anita Conti was outraged by the waste on board ships when so many people were dying of hunger. She campaigned for the reuse of "false fish", i.e. undesirable ones, which were often thrown back into the sea dead, and made known little-known species, such as the sabrefish. She also tried to find ways of fitting boats with selective catching systems and was a pioneer in aquaculture, proposing to raise fish for human consumption and to restock the marine environment.

During her travels, she took thousands of photos and wrote about her many experiences. In 1953, “Racleurs d'Océans” was published, in which she describes the difficulties of life on the trawler Bois-Rosé in the Arctic Ocean. In 1957, she wrote about her experience in Africa in “Géants des mers chaudes”. Then, she published in 1971 “L'Océan, les bêtes et l'homme”, in which she drew up a report on her research into the consequences of human activity on the ocean.

Extract from “Racleurs d’Océans”, 1953
“Today, after 20 years of methodical observations by all the ships of all the scientific stations around the world, we have come to the rather worrying conclusion that the ocean is vulnerable, that the marine species are not reproducing in a considerable way. And that if you make too deep, too powerful, too large drain on the animal masses, then as the accelerated numerical growth of the human species gives us hope that we will get a lot of food from the ocean, then we have... the certainty that the ocean cannot meet our hopes if we continue to plunder it in a savage way.”

About France’s Commitment to Sustainable Development
France has become a major player in protecting the environment and biodiversity and promoting sustainability, particularly since the Paris Agreement in 2015. By initiating international conferences such as the One Planet Summit (in 2017, 2018 and 2019) and the One Ocean Summit (2022), by hosting large-scale events such as the latest IUCN congress in Marseille (2021) or by co-organising with Costa Rica the next United Nations Ocean Conference in Nice (2025), France is deploying an ambitious climate diplomacy and is taking its full part in this effort by the international community to respond to the urgency of the climate and environmental crisis.

The Hong Kong University for Science and Technology and France are sharing the same commitment for the environment. The Anita Conti Sustainable Innovation Fellowship aims at strengthening our cooperation in the field of sustainability to nurture innovation to tackle the challenges caused by climate change.

Program funded by
Consulat général de France à Hong Kong et Macao