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President Designate

Office of the President

Dr. Tony F Chan

  • Biography
  • Curriculum Vitae

President Chan will assume his role as the third president of KAUST on September 1, 2018. Chan joins KAUST after nearly a decade as president of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Chan assumed the presidency of HKUST on 1 September 2009. Under his leadership, HKUST's global visibility and recognition significantly increased, with wide international media coverage, strategic partnerships established with world-renowned institutions and invitations to global platforms such as the World Economic Forum in Davos. The University's global ranking also improved consistently. 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 has increased from about 30 percent to over 50 percent and HKUST has 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. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He pursued postdoctoral research at Caltech as Research Fellow, and taught Computer Science at Yale University before joining UCLA as Professor of Mathematics in 1986. 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.

Chan is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Fellow, 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 till 2012. 

President Chan is currently 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 Committee on 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.

President Chan's professional field is computational mathematics, with interests including image processing and computer vision, physical circuit design and computational brain mapping. He has published over 200 refereed papers and was one of the most cited mathematicians in the world. He has mentored over 35 Ph.D. students and 25 postdoctoral fellows.

​Curriculum Vitae

  • Ph.D. in Computer Science, Stanford University, United States, 1978
  • M.S. (Aeronautics), Caltech, United States, 1973
  • B.S. (Engineering, Honors), Caltech, United States, 1973.

Professional Profile

  • Sept. 2018: President Designate, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • 2009 - 2018: President, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong
  • 2006 – 2009: Assistant Director, Directorate for Math & Physical Sciences, US National Science Foundation, United States
  • 2001 – 2006: Dean, Div. of Physical Sciences, UCLA, United States
  • 2000 – 2001: Director, Institute for Pure and Applied Math (IPAM), UCLA, United States
  • 1997 – 2000: Chair, Dept. of Math., UCLA, United States
  • 1996 – 1997: Graduate Vice Chair, Dept. of Math, UCLA, United States
  • 1986 – 2009: Professor, Dept. of Math., UCLA, United States
  • 1983 – 1986: Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Comp. Sci., Yale University, United States
  • 1979 – 1983: Assistant Prof, Dept. of Comp.Sci., Yale University, United States
  • 1978 – 1979: Research Fellow, Applied Math. Dept., Caltech, United States

Awards and Recognition:

  • Elected Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), 2016
  • Founding Member & Board of Directors, Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, 2015-present
  • Fellow, Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences (HKAES), 2015-present
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia), 2015-present
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom, November 2015
  • Elected Member, US National Academy of Engineering, 2014
  • Senior Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), 2014
  • Elected Fellow, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), 2010
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2011
  • Fellow and President of Executive Board, Hong Kong Institution of Science (HKIS), 2011-present
  • Member, United States Committee of 100, 2009-present
  • Southern California Chinese American Faculty Association Achievement Award, 2007
  • Best Paper Award, International Symposium on Physical Design, April 2005
  • Best Paper Award, IEEE Signal Processing Society, 2003
  • Distinguished Visitor, United College, Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong, 2002
  • Faculty/Staff Partnership Award, 3rd Annual Staff Assembly, UCLA, 2000 

Professional Activities:

  • Chair, Nevanlinna Prize Committee for the International Congress of Mathematicians 2018 (ICM 2018) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Member, Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industralisation of the HK Government, 2017-present
  • Member, International Advisory Council, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), Shenzhen, 2017-present
  • Member, Advisory Council, RIKEN, Japan, 2016-present
  • Member, International Advisory Board of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2015-present
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Innovation and Technology, HK Government, 2015-2017
  • Member, President's Scientific Advisory Board, University of Vienna, 2014-present
  • Member, External Prize Committee, Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics (SIAM), 2014
  • Member, Global University Leaders Forum, World Economic Forum, 2013-present
  • Member, Technology Pioneers Selection Committee, World Economic Forum, 2014-present
  • Member, Selection Committee for the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences, 2011-2013
  • Member, Board of Trustees, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, 2011-present
  • Member, President's Advisory Council, Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), 2011-present
  • Representative of HKUST, Association of University Presidents of China, 2009-present
  • Representative of HKUST, Association of East Asian Research Universities (AEARU), 2009-present. Chair, AEARU, 2010-2011
  • Representative of HKUST, Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), 2009-present. Member of Steering Committee, 2015-present
  • Representative of HKUST, Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM), Hong Kong, 2009-present
  • Board of Trustees, Institute For Pure & Applied Math, UCLA, 2009-present
  • Editor in Chief (with F. Bresis and M. Griebel), Numer. Math., 2002 - present 

Research Record:

  • 2nd most highly cited publication in 2016 in Computational Mathematics (Google Scholar)
  • H-index 90. Citations for top 5 papers: 9441, 4422, 2532, 2272, 1338 (Google Scholar, Sep 2017)
  • One of the world's highly cited mathematicians from 2003-2014
  • H-index 86. Over 641 publications. Citations for top 5 papers: 8685, 4177, 2330, 2034, 1224 (Data from Google Scholar, Jan 2017)
  • Best paper awards: IEEE Signal Processing Society 2004; Int'l Symposium on Physical Design 2005
  • Fully supported by competitive federal grants throughout career without interruption: summer salaries, graduate student and postdoc support. NSF, NIH, DOE, AFOSR, ARO, ONR, DARPA, NASA
  • Supervised 36 PhDs, 25 postdocs
  • Co-Director (with Art Toga, UCLA Neurology Dept), Center for Computational Biology, UCLA. One of first 4 NIH Roadmap National Centers, 2004-2009

Major Invited Plenary/ Named Lecture:

  • Plenary speaker, National SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Math) 60th Anniversary Conference, July 2012, Minneapolis
  • Plenary panelist, European University Association Annual Meeting, Warwick, UK, 2012
  • Michalik Distinguished Lectures, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2009
  • Ostrom Lecturer, Washington State Univ., Pullman, 2009
  • Rees Distinguished Lecturer, Univ. of Delaware, 2006
  • Plenary speaker: Asian Math Conf., Singapore, 2005
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2005
  • Plenary speaker: Joint Math Meeting, San Diego, United States, 2002
  • Plenary speaker: Int'l Conf. of Chinese Mathematicians, Taipei, Dec 2001.
  • Plenary speaker: SIAM National Meeting, San Diego, 1989. 

Consulting Activities:

  • "Numb3rs", NBC prime time TV pilot, 2004. Main math consultant.
  • TechFinity, Los Angeles 2004-2006.
  • Chevron Research, La Habra, Los Angeles, 1998-99.
  • Intel, 1998-99.
  • MathSoft, Seattle, 1997-99.
  • Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, 1996-98.
  • ICASE, NASA Langley, 1995-97.
  • RIACS, NASA Ames, 1986-98.
  • SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, 1986-92.