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Science and University Development in China: Some Personal Observations

About the series


  • President, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Former NSF Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Former Dean of Physical Sciences, UCLA


With China's rapid economic development and heightened visibility on the global stage, a great deal of speculation surrounds China's prospects in science, technological innovation, and higher education.  In the US, generalizations, hype, and an incomplete awareness of the domestic political, economic, and cultural context cause discussions of these topics to obscure as much as they illuminate.  Based on his unique vantage point over the past six years as President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the speaker will give some personal observations on recent developments, policies, prospects, and challenges for Chinese science innovation and education systems.  Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, governed under a unique "One-Country-Two-Systems" framework.


Professor Tony F. Chan assumed the presidency of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 2009. From 2006-2009 he was Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in charge of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate. 

Professor Chan's scientific background is in mathematics, computer science and engineering. He received his BS and MS degrees in engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and his PhD in computer science from Stanford University. He pursued postdoctoral research at Caltech and taught computer science at Yale University before joining the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as Professor of Mathematics in 1986. He was appointed Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and served as Dean of Physical Sciences from 2001 to 2006. He also holds honorary joint appointments with the University's Bioengineering Department and Computer Science Department.

Professor Chan is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  He is an elected Fellow and member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served on the editorial boards of many journals in mathematics and computing.

Professor Chan is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, member of President's Advisory Council of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna, and member of the United States Committee of 100. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong Government and of the Steering Committee of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.

Professor Chan's current research interests include mathematical image processing and computer vision, very-large-scale-integration physical design, and computational brain mapping. He has published over 200 refereed papers and is one of ISI's most cited mathematicians. He has mentored over 35 PhD students and 25 postdoctoral fellows.


Advance registration is required for this lecture.  Please submit your name and affiliation to alovinge@nsf.gov.  Badges may be picked up at the NSF Reception Desk (ground floor, corner of 9th and Stuart Streets, Arlington).

This Distinguished Lecture is co-sponsored by the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Office of International Science and Engineering.

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