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Speaker Profile

Tony Chan

President of KAUST


Dr. Tony F. Chan is the third president of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He has been a member of the KAUST Board of Trustees since 2011. He joined KAUST as president on September 1, 2018, after nearly a decade as president of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Dr. Chan has been one of the most cited mathematicians in the world and published over 200 refereed papers. His professional field is computational mathematics, with interests including image processing and computer vision, physical circuit design and computational brain mapping. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University.

Chan is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Fellow, and a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served on the editorial boards of many journals, including SIAM Review, SIAM Journal of Scientific Computing, the Asian Journal of Mathematics, and is one of the three Editors-in-Chief of Numerische Mathematik. He co-wrote the proposal to start a new SIAM Journal of Imaging Sciences and served on its inaugural editorial board until 2012.

Prior to assuming the presidency of KAUST, Chan served as president of HKUST from 2009 to 2018. Under his leadership, HKUST's global visibility, recognition rankings improved significantly. In 2018 it ranked 36th in the world (QS), 4th in Asia (QS), 2nd in young universities globally (QS & THE) and 13th in the Global Employability University Ranking.

During his time as president, the University transitioned from a three-year to a four-year curriculum, with major changes such as adopting a university-wide core curriculum and School-based admission. In the most recent (2014) UGC-led HK-wide Research Assessment Exercise, 70 percent of HKUST achievements rated world-leading or internationally recognized, 19 percent higher than the next highest.

Chan also championed the use of new technology in education and HKUST was the first university in Asia to offer MOOCs on both Coursera and EdX. The percentage of undergraduates who exchange overseas for at least one semester increased from about 30 percent to over 50 percent and HKUST had the highest percentage of international undergraduates of all universities in HK (about 10 percent).

In addition, he led the development and fundraising to build several new major infrastructure projects for the University to achieve its academic and research mission, including three major academic buildings, a Conference Lodge, a 500-bed graduate residence hall, a water sports center, a second sports Hall, an innovation building and a 1000-seat multi-purpose auditorium.

The number of endowed professorships increased from 8 to 36. He led the development of two 5-year Strategic Plans, as well as the University's first set of Core Values. He has led the further development of the University's Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), including recruiting two directors and several prominent IAS professors, and bringing the siting of the Gordon Research Conferences and the International Secretariat of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) to IAS.

Before joining HKUST, President Chan was Assistant Director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the US National Science Foundation from 2006 to 2009, the largest directorate at NSF, and guided and managed research funding in astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematical science, and material science. Prior to NSF, he was Professor of Mathematics at UCLA from 1986 to 2006. At UCLA, Chan was appointed Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and served as Dean of Physical Sciences from 2001 to 2006. He was one of the principal investigators who made the successful proposal to the NSF to form the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, and served as its Director from 2000-2001. Before that he pursued postdoctoral research at Caltech as Research Fellow, and taught Computer Science at Yale University.

President Chan continues to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, President's Advisory Council of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna, International Advisory Board of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Board of Trustees of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia, RIKEN Advisory Council of Japan, and the United States Committee of 100.

He is also a Founding Member and Board Director of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, the President of the Hong Kong Institution of Science, a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences and a member of the Committeeon Innovation, Technology and Re-industralisation of the Hong Kong Government. He was a member of the Selection Committee for the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences in 2012 and 2013, and a member of the Advisory Committee on Innovation and Technology of the Hong Kong Government for 2015 to 2017. He is the Chair of Nevanlinna Prize Committee for the International Congress of Mathematicians 2018 (ICM 2018) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.

He has mentored over 35 Ph.D. students and 25 postdoctoral fellows.

All sessions by Tony Chan

  • MondayFebruary 25
8:45 AM

Welcome address & Introductory remarks