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The Team 

Principal Investigator

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Olga Zayts-Spence is 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.


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Dr CHAN, Cecilia K.Y.

Cecilia Chan is Associate Professor in the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and 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.

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Professor DELLA GIUSTA, Marina

Marina Della Giusta is Professor of Economics at the University of Turin and Visiting Professor at the University of Reading. She was the Head of Department from 2013 to 2016. Her publications are in the area of behavioural and labour economics, with particular focus on gender, stigma and social norms. She has published extensively in the economics of sex work. Recent work focusses on (conscious and unconscious) bias, interventions to redress disadvantage in education, the evolution of gender preferences and their role in individual and collective outcomes, and the use of both big social data and board games to understand economic behaviour. 



Zoë Fortune is 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 are dealing with a mental health difficulty.

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Dr HAFNER, Christoph A.

Christoph A. Hafner is 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).

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Dr HO, Jenifer W.Y.

Jenifer Ho is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, City University of Hong Kong. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from UCL Institute of Education, UK. Her main research interest is informal/recreational language learning, especially language learning of adults in the digital wild. She explores out-of-class, digital teaching and learning environments using social semiotic multimodality and translanguaging as analytical tools. She also has great interests in developing innovative qualitative research methods in applied linguistics. Other research interests include multilingualism, digital multimodal composing, linguistic/semiotic landscape, digital literacies, and ethical issues related to digital research.

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Professor JAWORSKA, Sylvia

Sylvia Jaworska is Professor of Language and Professional Communication at the University of Reading. Her main research interest is in the area of 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).

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Professor JONES, Rodney

Rodney Jones is 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 authoed 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.

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Dr LEE, Carmen

Carmen Lee is Associate Professor in the Department of English at 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 is doing research on aggressive discourses such as hate speech and doxxing online.

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Dr LUK, Pauline 

Pauline Luk is a multidisciplinary scholar with 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 had taught in a university in Hong Kong and in NUS where she gained experiences in teaching communication, public relations, and marketing. 

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Dr WONG, Paul W.C.

Paul Wong is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong. He has been involving in suicide prevention research and mental health promotion and practice since 2003. His recent research projects include youth social withdrawal behavior, using animals as part of educational and psychological interventions, youth positive development of local and non-Chinese young people, and family care giving 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.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

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Dr EDMONDS, David Matthews

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). 

Research Assistants

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Mr CHOU, Jason Shang Guan

Jason Chou is the research assistant of the CRF team. He is a graduate of Clinical Psychology and a postgraduate of Behavior Health and Nonprofit Management at the University of Hong Kong. He has been a practitioner and an advocate for promoting the well-being of the childhood cancer community in Taiwan for many years. Recent work focuses on managing international aid and exchange projects at Chou Ta Kuan Foundation, which require the collaboration of various stakeholders such as government and local communities.

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Mr KONG, Brandon Chee Kin

Brandon Kong is a research assistant of the CRF Team. He has recently graduated from The University of Hong Kong with a MPhil degree on workplace mental health discourse in Hong Kong. His experience working as a research assistant with healthcare communication experts, and his African studies background motivates his current broader researcher interests on transitional discourses and mental wellbeing of the African diaspora in Hong Kong.

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