Dr. Chak Chan is appointed new dean of the Physical Science and Engineering (PSE) division at KAUST

Portrait of KAUST PSE Dean Dr. Chak K. Chan. Photo courtesy City University of Hong Kong

​In July 2022, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) commenced a global search for the dean of its Physical Science and Engineering (PSE) division, and this week announced the appointment of Dr. Chak Chan as its new dean. Chan will commence at KAUST in May 2023. He brings extensive leadership and administration experience to KAUST.

Chan recently completed his second term as Dean of the School of Energy and Environment (SEE) at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). Dr. Chan obtained his bachelor's and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, and Caltech, respectively. After studying in the United States, he joined the Chemical Engineering Department of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), rising in ranks from lecturer and assistant professor to professor in chemical engineering and associate head. In 2009, he became the founding head of the Division of Environment (ENVR), a new interdisciplinary academic unit focusing on the science and technology of the environment and its impacts. Professor Chan joined CityU in December 2015 as the second dean of SEE. He has more than 14 years of administrative experience as an associate head, head and dean in interdisciplinary research and academic programs.

Chan's research focuses on the atmosphere's physical chemistry, particularly the chemistry of airborne particulate matter. Academic achievements include:

  • He has published over 250 SCI journal papers, more than half as the corresponding author.
  • His SCOPUS citation to date is over 16,000 with an h-index of 61, and his Google scholar citation is more than 20,000 with an h-index of 66.
  • He served as editor-in-chief of Atmospheric Environment from 2008 to 2019, and was the first EIC from outside Europe and North America in more than 60 years of the journal's history
  • He won the Haagen Smit Award of Atmospheric Environment in 2015, Best Paper Award of Environmental Science and Technology Letters in 2019, and several regional and mainland Chinese Awards.

Chan's academic background in chemical engineering, research experience in air pollution and atmospheric chemistry, and extensive administrative experience in interdisciplinary academic units will help further promote extensive collaboration among different PSE programs, and with the BESE and CEMSE divisions and beyond, while maintaining strength in core disciplines. His research focus also aligns well with activities at KAUST in climate, livability and sustainability, and his expertise will be valuable for the Kingdom's priorities.

He also has rich experience in the recruitment, mentoring, development and retention of faculty members, and has worked closely with multidisciplinary teams of faculty members of engineers. During his deanship at CityU, he recruited 20 international faculty members.  Among these, three are Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers and 15 are Stanford Top 2% Researchers. Furthermore, more than 20% have been female.Increasing the number of female faculty is a key priority for KAUST. In mentoring, Chan focuses on helping colleagues in their teaching, sharpening their direction of research, and fostering industrial and government collaborations, all very relevant to the KAUST context.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Gilles Lubineau, who currently serves as interim dean and has provided leadership at KAUST in many ways from its inception, will remain in this role during the transition period until Dr. Chan arrives next spring.