• BSc Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • MSc Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • PhD Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Research Interests

Environmental hydraulics/fluid mechanics; water quality modelling; flood control; environmental management; science and technology policy

Recent Events/Links


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 the 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, 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. He was elected as the 19th President of the International Association for Hydro-environmental Engineering and Research (IAHR) (www.iahr.org) at the 28th World Congress held in Panama City in September 2019.

During his academic career in Hong Kong he held various visiting appointments: 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. He is internationally recognized for his work on the theory of buoyant jets and its environmental applications. 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 and Past President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences. He is an Honorary Professor of Hohai University and Nankai 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 pioneered 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 Tokyo Institute of Technology (2016-2018), Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Singapore (2011-2014), and the Glasgow Research Partnership in Engineering, Scottish Funding Council (2007-2012). He also served on the Selection Committee of the International Climate Protection Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2009-2018). He is also a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (2008-2017) and the Science and Technology Committee of the Ministry of Education, Beijing, China (2017-).

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 science-based sustainable fisheries management. . He has notably been appointed as independent international expert by the Hong Kong Government in several high profile investigations that include the Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water in public rental housing buildings (2015).

Prof. Lee’s work on environmental hydraulics can be viewed in a 2017 Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) production: Travelling with Water – Joseph LEE (I), and Travelling with Water – Joseph LEE (II). The Chinese version of the video can be found here.

李行偉教授是國際水利與環境工程学会 (IAHR) 主席。香港工程科學院院士和前院長,英國皇家工程院院士。香港科技大學前副校長(研發及研究生教育,2010-16),土木及環境工程系講座教授。李教授30年來在香港從事環境水利工程研究,是該領域的世界知名學者,國際期刊「Journal of Hydro-environment Research」創刊主編。曾獲1998年裘槎基金會「香港優秀科研學者」獎。2009年美國土木工程師學會ASCE Hunter Rouse水力工程獎、及2010年「國家科學技術進步獎」二等獎(第一完成人)。2015年獲國際水利與環境工程硏究學會 (IAHR) 頒發永久榮譽會員獎。他曾擔任多項大型工程計劃的專家顧問,及許多香港及國際諮詢及評核任務。對香港環境水利工程,創新防洪及漁業管理作出顯著貢獻。

Publications and Research Funding (updated December 2019)

178 papers published in international refereed journals; 2 research monographs; 8 edited books; 3 edited special journal issues. External competitive basic research funding (1989-2019): 25 projects as PI ($62.74 M), 5 projects as Co-PI ($37.3 M); 24 keynote lectures given in international conferences (2012-2019); specialist consultant to Hong Kong Government and international consulting engineers on over 40 projects in water environment engineering (1987-2019).