Six Distinguished Academics and Community Leaders
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) held its 24th Congregation today (18 November) and conferred honorary doctorates on six eminent academics and community leaders. The Honorable Andrew Liao Cheung-sing, Chairman of the University Council, presided over today’s ceremony. HKUST honorary doctorates were awarded to six outstanding individuals in recognition of their distinguished achievements and contributions. This year’s recipients were (in alphabetical order):
Addressing the ceremony, President Prof Tony F Chan congratulated the graduates and exhorted them on the attitude and thinking they should adopt when they are stuck at a crossroads. “Hong Kong today faces many issues, extreme ideologies included, which threaten to change our society profoundly,” he said. “I believe, we would be doing our future generations a great disservice if we do not form our opinion and response carefully and critically. As a select member of society and a university graduate who has received so much education, you should have acquired a critical mind and know not to follow blindly.”
Following President Chan’s address and conferment of the honorary doctorate degrees, Dr Gerald L Chan delivered a commencement speech on the culture of science. He said the key to Hong Kong’s future success is that we ensure a culture of science be fostered among the city’s young people.
“Growing up in Hong Kong, I was inspired by Chen-ning Yang and Tsung-dao Lee winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. It was a powerful inspiration for young people then to study science,” Dr Chan said. “Today, the power of science to captivate the young minds in Hong Kong has waned just as science and technology has become the most important driver of economic growth and human progress throughout the world. If Hong Kong is to build a science and technology-based economy, we must first build a culture of science and technology among the young people. HKUST should take the lead in fulfilling this historic mission.”
Dr Gerald L Chan co-founded in 1987 the Morningside Group, a diversified investment group engages in private equity and venture capital investments, and is a Director of the publicly listed Hong Kong property giant Hang Lung Group. He holds BS and MS degrees in Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles, a Master of Science degree in Medical Radiological Physics, and a Doctor of Science degree in Radiation Biology from Harvard University. Dr Chan has consistently been at the forefront of innovation in biotechnology, developing such novel technologies as oncolytic virus for treating cancer, new chemistry for making polysaccharide vaccines, mitochondrial medicine, the gut microbiota as an avenue for therapeutic intervention, and novel treatments for dementia. Long before it became mainstream to invest in biotech companies in China, Morningside was the backer of many of the first generation of such companies. In 2013, Nature magazine recognized Morningside as the top venture investor behind innovative life science companies in China.
Prof Ingrid Daubechies is James B Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. She gained her PhD in quantum mechanics from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium in 1980. In 1987, she achieved her seminal contribution to the field of wavelets and went to work at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. She joined Princeton University in 1994 and moved to Duke University in 2010. Her work has contributed to making medical scans faster and safer, helping art historians spot forgeries through digital analysis, and reducing the storage needs for the FBI’s huge e-database of fingerprints. Her numerous accolades include the Leroy P Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition from the American Mathematical Society, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, the Nemmers Prize in Mathematicsand Jack S Kilby Signal Processing Medal. She is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Engineering. In 2012, she was made a Baroness by the King of Belgium.
Prof Robert S Langer is David H Koch Institute Professor and Head of the Langer Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Graduating from bachelor and doctoral chemical engineering degrees at Cornell University and MIT in the early 1970s, Prof Langer first made his name with a polymer-based research breakthrough on controlled drug delivery in the mid-1970s. The technology then went on to form the basis for treatments for conditions from brain cancer and schizophrenia to diabetes, and later into food and agricultural applications and even cosmetics uses. Prof Langer’s lab is now the world’s largest academic biomedical engineering facility, exploring drug development, novel biomaterials, tissue engineering, stem cells and nanoscale drug delivery. He has published over 1,300 papers and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of 15 innovators worldwide who will reinvent our future. He has received 29 honorary doctorates and over 220 major prizes, awards and medals. He now has 1,100 patents granted or pending.
Mr Liu Chuanzhi is Chairman of the Board of Legend Holdings Corporation and Founder of Lenovo Group Limited. Mr Liu studied radar navigation and had his first introduction to computing at Xidian University in the 1960s. In the mid-1980s, he started his own company. In 1994, Lenovo was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2005, Mr Liu became the first Chinese Chairman to lead the takeover of an iconic US firm by buying IBM’s global PC business. Lenovo has remained top in the global PC market since 2013. He took Legend Holdings on to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2015. Mr Liu’s acumen and far-sighted decision-making brought a slew of accolades. He was among Financial Times’ Fifty Faces That Shaped a Decade in 2009. He also received the Businessman of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award from CCTV in 2011.
Prof Kam-biu Luk is Professor of Physics at University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from the University of Hong Kong in the 1970s and later obtained a PhD degree from the Rutgers University. He is now a Faculty Senior Scientist of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US, and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study. Prof Luk conceived an experiment to explore neutrino oscillation in 2002. The experiment began to stage at the powerful reactors at Daya Bay a year later, marking the first impactful mega Sino-American scientific research collaboration based in China – the project involves over 200 scientists from more than 35 institutions in six countries and regions, including Hong Kong. Prof Luk received the 2014 W K H Panofsky Prize from the American Physical Society, and the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the far-reaching attainments of his work. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Divisional Coordinator of High-Energy Physics for the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers, and was a China Ministry of Education Cheung Kong Scholar from 2007-2010.
Prof Elizabeth J Perry is Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government at Harvard University and Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Her affiliation with the Asian region is life-long. Born in Shanghai in 1948 and grew up in Japan in the 1950s, she came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, amid the upsurge of social protest, anti-Vietnam War rallies on US campuses and the outbreak of China’s Cultural Revolution. She completed her bachelor studies in political science at William Smith College, graduating summa cum laude. After receiving her master’s degree from the University of Washington and PhD from the University of Michigan, both in political science and she became the first group of American visiting scholars to head for open-door China in 1979. In 1993, she received the prestigious John King Fairbank prize from the American Historical Association, and the Heinz Eulau Award in 2008 from the American Political Science Association. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy.
The Congregation also saw two awards presented to faculty and students.
Prof Garvin Percy Dias, Associate Professor of Business Education in the Department of Information Systems, Business Statistics and Operations Management, was awarded the Michael G Gale Medal for Distinguished Teaching – HKUST’s highest accolade in teaching. Professor Dias has made a broad contribution to the development of teaching and learning at the University since he joined in 1999. His dedicated and continual effort to develop and enhance BBA in Information Systems (BBA-IS), has made it the first program in Asia Pacific to be aligned with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) model curriculum. He plays a key role in re-structuring the four-year BBA-IS degree as the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator for the Department of ISOM since 2001.
Meanwhile, Global China Studies graduate Karen Wong Ka-wun was awarded the Stephen Cheong Kam-chuen Medal for Distinguished Service to the Student Body, for her outstanding achievements as the Vice-Chairperson of the HKUSTSU Council in 2015 – 2016. She played a leadership role in multiple tasks and projects related to the Students’ Union and the HKUSTSU Council; during Registration Days and the Orientation Period, Karen made great efforts to represent students’ interest and views, and worked closely with the University in achieving desired outcomes.
The 24th Congregation conferred 2,243 bachelor’s degrees, 2,144 master’s degrees, and 232 doctoral degrees, expanding the HKUST alumni community to over 62,600.
For address by President Prof Tony F Chan and citation of the six Honorary Doctorates recipients:
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