School of Physics - Universiti Sains Malaysia

2023 Wu Ta-You Science Camp: The Booming Astronomy and Space Exploration!

13 – 18 Aug 2023 - Three students representing the School of Physics: Chan Xian Hwa, Wee Mao Jie and I (Ngai Wan Qi) were shortlisted and fully-funded to attend the 6-day Wu Ta-You Science Camp held in Nantou, Taiwan. Wu Ta-You Science Camp is an annual science camp organized by the Wu Ta-You Foundation of Academia Sinica in Taiwan. It aims to invite internationally renowned experts to Taiwan, to impart their experiences, research methodologies, and the current state and prospects of cutting-edge scientific fields to young students in Taiwan, mainland China, and Hong Kong, as well as to bridge and nurture future scientific elites. In 2023, the theme was centered around astronomy and space development and took place in the Sun-Link-Sea Nature Reserve Area, Taiwan. There were as many as 15 presenters were invited and among them were Professor Wei-Hsin Sun, Professor Matthew A. Malkan, Professor Chia-Wei Li, and so on. 


【Figure 1】The 2023 19th Wu Ta-You Science Camp poster: The Booming and Space Exploration!

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【Figure 2】Three undergraduates of USM posing signs indicating ‘USM’ in front of the Sun-Link-Sea Hotel.

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A total of 94 participants from Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Malaysia were handpicked by the organizers. Aside from the participation of three USM undergraduate students, several private varsities (TarUC, Taylor’s University Lakeside & Sunway College) were involved in the camp. There were also several Malaysian students studying abroad and private high-school teachers had joined the camp as well. Throughout the five-day camp, prestigious experts from astronomy, space science, and other related fields presented cutting-edge talks, forums, and discussions, provoking creative and critical thinking skills in each participant. Overall, this event has facilitated intellectual growth by promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion, while also encouraging international friendships under the guise of booming astronomy and space exploration!

【Figure 3】Professor Matthew A. Malkan was giving his account of new surprises in extragalactic astronomy from JWST.

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【Figure 4】A roundtable discussion with Professor. Lou-Chuang Lee, distinguished visiting chair of the Institute of Earth Science, Academia Sinica.

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【Figure 5】Quiz showdown was held on the last day of the camp to test the engagement of participants throughout the whole camp. The buzzers in this segment were made by behind-the-scenes personnel themselves!

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Mao Jie: “I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to join this event where people from all walks of life gathered in one space, united by a common thread of interest. At the heart of the event, speakers shared their stories and insights, inspiring new generations of youth to pursue the field of Astronomy. One of my greatest takeaways is the ability to tackle challenges through different perspectives, turn adversity into opportunity, and learn that sometimes even intricate problems can often be resolved through simple elegant solutions. All in all, we have the incredible luck to exist at the perfect moment in time to see not only our future but also our most distant past just by looking into the night sky.”

【Figure 6】Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA, Prof. Matthew A. Malkan (left) posing with USM undergraduate Wee Mao Jie (right).

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【Figure 7】A 45 minutes star trail on top of Sun-Link-Sea Hotel (credited to Wee Mao Jie).

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Xian Hwa: “By completing the Wu Ta-You Science Camp 2023, I picked up a lot of new knowledge that I could not obtain in normal lessons. I enjoyed having discussions with the smartest brains across East Asia, like China, Taiwan, etc. It allowed me to open up a new door to astronomy, learning about the latest technologies and updates of astronomy in other countries. I hope to share all these exciting bits of knowledge with all my friends!”


【Figure 8】Adjunct Professor of Physics and Institute of Astrophysics at National Taiwan University as well as the moderator of the camp, Prof. Wei-Hsin Sun posing with USM undergraduate Chan Xian Hwa.

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【Figure 9】Hiking session around the Sun-Link-Sea Forest Recreation Area trail with group members.

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【Figure 10】Xian Hwa (far left) and her friends in the National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung City with the theme of The Gravity Realm: Unveiling the Secrets of Black Holes and Gravitational Waves.

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【Figure 11】Prof. Chia-Wei Li (left), Hou Chin-Tui Chair Professor of the Department of Life Science at National Tsing Hua University with USM undergraduate Ngai Wan Qi (right).

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Wan Qi: “This Wu Ta-You science camp was a very enriching and novel experience for me, as it marked my first-ever camping experience, and that too in another country! What I appreciated most about the camp was the engaging discussions on cutting-edge topics. Not only was I able to listen to numerous great ideas from the participants, but I also gained the ability to approach a single topic from multiple perspectives. Surprisingly, I even acquired some knowledge in geophysics, such as the South Atlantic Anomaly, in an astronomy-themed camp! As I depart from this camp, I carry with me a newfound sense of purpose and am eager to embark on future endeavors.”

Photos credited to: Wee Mao Jie, Chan Xian Hwa, and Ngai Wan Qi.

Text by: Ngai Wan Qi


The Dean, School of Physics,
Universiti Sains Malaysia,
11800 USM,
Penang, Malaysia

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