Professor Chan assumed his role as the third president of KAUST in September 2018 after nearly a decade as president of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He led a strategic planning process to lead KAUST into its second decade, including growing the faculty and students by up to 50%. He has expanded KAUST’s research emphasis from energy, water, food and environment to include digital and health, launching new initiatives in Artificial Intelligence, Smart Health, Cyber Security and Circular Carbon. He is increasing investment and capacity in innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer. By positioning the University to leverage Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 strategic plan, he is strengthening its engagement with the nation. Finally, he is leading efforts to enhance the global and national visibility of KAUST.
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. He taught Computer Science at Yale University before joining UCLA as Professor of Mathematics in 1986 and was Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and later Dean of Physical Sciences. He was a co-founder and Director of the US NSF funded National Math Institute IPAM.
He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, followed by a Research Fellowship at Caltech. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde. He is a member of US National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of IEEE, AAAS and SIAM. He was awarded the 2020 SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession.
He serves as a member of the Board/Council/Directors of the Future Investment Initiative Institute; King Abdulaziz City of Science & Technology; the Biotechnology City Initiative of Riyadh; the Supreme Committee for Research, Development and Innovation (RDI SC), Skolkovo, Russia; Yidan Prize Foundation, Hong Kong; IPAM, UCLA and the Hong Kong Academy of Science. He also serves on the Advisory Board/Committee of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals; NEOM; KAPARC College, the Supervisory National Strategy Committee of Data and AI of the Saudi Data & AI Authority; KAIST, Korea; RIKEN, Japan; Hang Lung Mathematics Awards, China, SUSTech, China; and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, China.